“Angie worked at one part-time job after another, saving her money in the bank. I bought her an old car so she could drive to school and she never abused the privilege. Friends were important to her, but she remained focused on school and work. Angie was endlessly thoughtful to both her parents and grandparents on special occasions. And the list goes on.
If I was surprised by my daughter’s drug addiction in 2001, this is why. Later on once her addiction had taken hold of her, I would be incredulous at the dysfunctional behavior I was seeing. It’s as though she had become possessed. She had problems, but I thought I was helping her deal with them responsibly. There were no visible red flags. She didn’t stay in bed every day and pull the covers over her head. She diligently saw her therapist every week, facing every day with discipline and good humor. She never missed her classes and she never quit her jobs. Her grades were excellent. Maybe—and this is important to recognize now—this was the beginning of the denial that would hamper me throughout Angie’s addiction, preventing me from dealing with her illness intelligently and effectively.
Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words. Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped it.”