The Cupboards Were Bare

Memoir Excerpt:
“When I called Angie in Richmond, she said they were in the middle of moving to a better apartment and not to come down right away. I guess that bought her a couple of weeks. Short of being in China, she knew she’d have to face me sooner or later.I drove down to see them when school was out: hardly any furniture in this new place. Moving toward a closed door across the room, Angie warned me,

“Don’t go in the bedroom!”

OK, I thought to myself, what’s she hiding now? So I changed the subject.

“I’m starving, Angie, what’s to eat?” I asked.

There was nothing to eat in the whole house. I drove two hours to see her, and after twenty minutes of being polite, she went to vomit in the bathroom and asked me to leave because she was feeling really sick. Uh-huh. Now I was remembering like a bad dream that lost half hour when Angie disappeared in Miami six months earlier. Now I could see with my own eyes what was eating her alive like a nasty virus. Heroin addicts don’t always die from overdoses. Many die from starvation.

I said goodbye, I love you, take care of yourselves. I’d gotten very good at bravely moving forward with my life, doing the next right thing for myself, leaving her to manage by herself, even though I knew she was on a suicide mission. Five years in the Program were starting to sink in. But not fast enough. I would have to grow a lot more hair on my chest before I would be able to let go of trying to save her and surrender to the all-powerful disease that was consuming her.”

Carpe Diem

Don’t Worry

“There are two days in every week about which we should not worry. One is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

The other day is tomorrow, with its possible adversities and blunders. Until its sun rises we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

That leaves only one day—today. Anyone can fight the battle of just one day.

It is only when we add the burden of those two awful eternities—yesterday and tomorrow—that contentment will escape us.”


Memoir Excerpt:

“In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle:

‘I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it.

I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared to death for them. I became so distrusting of my children that I showed them no respect. I would meddle and invade their privacy looking for any excuse to challenge and confront them.

When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place. (29)'”


Drug Den

Memoir Excerpt:

“Well, the drug-free honeymoon didn’t last. The trouble with NA meetings is there are often lots of using junkies there just looking for contacts—and new drug buddies. So she made a new friend named Hope, with a house, a car, and lots of heroin. If you were Angie, with enough remorse to sink a ship and equal amounts of shame, this would be just what the doctor ordered.

Hope’s house, I soon discovered, was a small, two-room dump right next to the beltway in Takoma Park, Maryland. I went to visit them before Gene and I left for a backpacking trip in California. I don’t know what it is about drug addicts. Do they need to be surrounded by chaos or are they just hopelessly oblivious? Angie grew up in a tidy home that was cleaned regularly. She never went to bed without a shower. Who was this person?

Two guard dogs, sentinels of this strange domicile, scared me half to death until my daughter pulled them away. There was no path to walk so I climbed over furniture and strewn clothes to find a place to squat.

“Where’s Hope, Angie? I’d like to meet your friend.”

“Oh, she doesn’t feel well, Mom. She needed to sleep this morning.”

This morning, this afternoon, probably all day, I thought to myself. I knew as I sat there in my daughter’s presence exactly where I was and what was going on: Angie and Hope were living in a drug den and they were using drugs. Such clarity—such utter powerlessness. I had a choice right then and there: drag her into my car and kidnap her; or leave her to the life she had chosen. It was 2006, five years into her addiction, and I knew that any intervention on my part would be nothing more than a band-aid on a serious wound unless she, heart and soul, wanted to recover and give up drugs. I was powerless to change her—I was powerless over her addiction.”


I Was Addicted To My Addict

Memoir Excerpt:

“I was on such a fast moving train that I was dizzy with the drama of it all, and very much caught up in it as well. I was addicted to my addict; I felt important because I was needed (translate: used, like an ATM machine). When she got pregnant, why did I make it my problem? When she broke the law, why didn’t I let her face the consequences?

When my kids were young, I used to pride myself on my parenting. I took Parent Effectiveness Training classes, and joined preschool coops so I could participate in what was going on from a very young age. Oh boy, did I think I had my mother beat! I was going to do it right this time! And for all those years even after the divorce, they were really good kids. I thought, because they seemed OK, that I was a good parent. I measured myself against them. I think many parents do that. So now, when my skills were sorely tested, I was falling apart. It was as if I thought that if I let her fall down that rabbit hole, without trying to stop her, that I deserved to go with her too. And I did, a bit later on, when my heart and my nerves gave out, and I was finally, at long last, on my knees.”