“Early in Angie’s illness, I flailed around in denial, sometimes strong, as when I handed her logical consequences for being abusive. I felt like a moth turned into a butterfly then. But I later added, ‘Oh how this butterfly would flutter and die in the years that followed, as I backtracked over and over again, trading in my courage for equal does of martyrdom.’” ~except from A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Maggie C. Romero
It’s been quite a roller coaster ride these past fifteen years. At first I wouldn’t believe it was really happening. “This sort of thing happens to other people’s children,” I wrote in my memoir. What arrogance! I simply couldn’t accept it.
But when she was living with me and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down, it was hard to ignore. So for a while I got tough, even told her to live elsewhere more than once. But addicts are, if nothing else, resourceful.
I often write that deep pockets are dangerous, enabling us to be generous and feel good about it. I was able to put Angie through rehab four times, but one time would have been enough to teach her the tools of recovery. For recovery to be successful, whether it’s once or ten times, the addict has to be ready. I was just buying time, trying to keep her off the streets long enough to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
In the program there’s a wry saying: “Sit there. Don’t do anything.” And so I was the one who was getting sick and tired. I stopped doing anything, mostly because it didn’t really matter what I did. Angie was a runaway train, and I couldn’t stop her in the grips of addiction.
I stopped trying to control a situation that was clearly out of my control. I stopped obsessing and enabling. I started focusing on other people in my life who deserved my attention. I learned to practice gratitude for all I have. And though my changed attitude hasn’t brought my daughter back, it has shown me how to live better.
“We don’t always get what we want in life. But to make the best of what we have is the only way to be happy.” ~Jenny Jerome Churchill