I survived a suicide attempt. However my friend, he did not. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself, right before he died. February 25th 2010. The difference between us is nothing, except our resources.
I have been thinking about my posts, how bluntly open I am about my experiences/knowledge of drugs, and how quickly many adults can be immediately turned off knowing I smoked pot in high school. Well, parents, this is the rest of the story that you don’t understand.
It is no secret that 1960-1970 birth cohort has experienced their fair share of experimentation with drugs. Back then, no one knew the effects of these drugs. So many people were using drugs and smoking cigarettes that the thought of saying “no” hardly even came to mind. My parents were born in the early and late 60’s. To this day, I do not know the extent of their drug experimentations, and to be quite frank, I do not think I should ever know, being as I’m their daughter. I can assume that they joined in on illicit activities with friends, but it is something I will never know for a fact. We never talked about drug use in my home, never mentioned ‘cocaine’ or ‘crack’ or anything like that. The one time the word ‘pot’ was ever used in my home was when I was about 13-years-old and my brother 16-years-old.
My mom sat us down and said, “Are any kids in your grade smoking dope?” With a very, very confused face, I looked at her and said, “What does that mean?”
To me, ‘dope’ was a term used to describe a goofy, outlandish, strange person. (i.e. the “Grandpa is a dope!” notes I left scattered around my Grandparent’s home as a playful prank.) She then corrected herself with more ‘hip’ language and said, “Do kids at school ever smoke pot? Do you know how much a dime bag costs?”
Note to parents: Kids do not say ‘dime bag’ or ‘dope’ anymore. ‘Dope’ is now a term used to describe something awesome, cool, or ‘far out’ as some of you would call it. Also, a ‘dime bag’ is no longer a thing. I found out 2 weeks ago that dime bag means it costs $10, and not the amount of marijuana you receive is the size of a dime. I’m 21.
At age 13, I did not know what a dime bag was, where to get marijuana, and no one I knew openly talked to me about smoking weed. My older brother was more shy in high school, and also looked at my mother like she was crazy and felt very uncomfortable during the entire conversation. It was very apparent that we had no knowledge of ‘dope.’ That was the end of drug conversations in my household.
While writing these blog posts, my parents, as well as all of you strangers, found out for the first time that I had smoked pot in the past. I commented on the how uncomfortable it was telling my parents, and apologized in my post as well. In the same post, I mentioned seeing cocaine in college, and knowing several people who have done that and beyond.
Here’s the kicker, parents. Your kid has too.
You can be as naive as you would like and continue to tell yourself that whatever college your child attends “doesn’t have that problem,” your kid “would never associate with people who do stuff like that,” “he/she doesn’t go to parties where that stuff is present, they would leave.” Ok, let’s put it like this. Kids here at Iowa, snort cocaine in the library. Iowa State, same thing. “Well, he/she has never seen that before.” Ok, let’s move on to the party scene. You have to be 21 to be in a bar, which leave house parties, lots and lots of house parties. House parties do not have security roaming around, do not require an ID or really even an invitation, and do not have people regulating your drinks. House parties make a very great place for drugs. Surprise, surprise. I was at a house party in college when I first saw cocaine. I walked into the bathroom to find two girls with a $100 bill up their nose. I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, and I have never seen them since. Welcome to college, parents. Your kid has seen drugs.
My major is criminology, so I would say I’m pretty well-versed in the topic of drugs. However, many students are well-curious in the topic of drugs, due to lack of knowledge. The way kids describe drugs, it sounds like a great time. “Take these caps, your body feels so good, and you will have so much fun, just laugh all the time, and hug everybody!” Who wouldn’t want to do that, right? Oh, but you are going to be pounding water like a fish. Oh wait, and don’t drink too much water, a bunch of kids keep over-hydrating themselves causing their brain to swell, and now they’re dead. But you’ll feel so great!!!
I had no clue what the difference between ‘molly’ and ‘ecstasy’ was prior to coming to college. You could show me two pills, one ibuprofen and one ecstasy, and to this day I won’t be able to tell you which one is which. (pictures of drugs are VERY outdated in my textbooks.) Freshman year, I didn’t know girls who were going to the bathroom together, were actually doing lines together. I would have no clue that my friend’s random roommate was stashing blow in her desk drawer. I didn’t know how much a gram cost, or that the group of kids behind me just did a drug deal under the table.
But parents, you do know these things. You know the differences between these drugs, things to look out for, behaviors that are correlated with different drugs. You know what deadly additives can be in cocaine. The bad side effects of a ‘bad trip.’ These are all things your kid doesn’t know and needs to know. How is it that you can sit your kid down, tell them how babies are made and not to have sex, at age 13 when she first gets her period, but you can’t sit your 15-year-old kid down and explain to him the dangerous opportunities every single one of us has experienced? Isn’t that less traumatic; warning your kid about something that they may never even come in contact with, opposed to handing over condoms and praying they don’t use them until after age 30?
I have a very close relationship with my little brother, and am very open with him about how persuasive someone can be when describing drugs, but how dangerous they really are. He knows he can ask me anything about drugs, dangers, etc, and I am more than willing to explain it to him. I will get down to the very last, nitty-gritty detail of what I know about drugs, in an effort to completely diminish his curiosity (and to traumatize him with the idea that simply looking at drugs causes immediate death). Tell your kids whatever it is you think will scare them away from using drugs, ever. I believed that a Christmas elf was writing me letters during his break from making toys until I was 11-years-old, because my parents told me they also had elves visit them when they were kids, so obviously our family was just extra special. Your kid is going to believe whatever it is you have to say, as long as you make it sound legitimate. When other kids say, “No man, that’s not true.” Your child is still going to have that little voice in the back of their head reminding them of their Mom’s friend that overdosed on MDMA her first time and died at age 15. Trust me, disappointing your parent is 100 times worse than being the lame kid at the party. The guilt your child will feel knowing how disappointed you would be if you knew they did Molly will eat away at them enough that they won’t do it again.
Drugs are far too available, unpredictable, and intriguing for you to still think your kid is immune. The least you could do is have a conversation with your child, even if you know for a fact they aren’t using drugs, maybe they know someone who is very curious about drugs and don’t know what to do. The best thing you can do for your child is to be open to their curiosity. Let them ask you questions, otherwise they are going to ask friends’ questions… Next thing you know, they have the pill in their hand.
This semester I’m taking a creative writing class. We are supposed to be writing ‘short stories’ that we will be turning in at the end of the semester. However, I don’t want to write short stories. I don’t want to make stuff up in order to have an affect on people. I want to tell people the harsh reality of life, the way things really are, and how easy all of your lives are compared to the man sitting next to you, and the woman next to him, so on and so forth.
Our assignment today was to read a short story titled Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It is a good read, but requires that you have a very strong stomach and a mind open to acceptance. During our conversation about the story, my professor read off some of his favorite quotes. One of them being something about if your writing doesn’t offend someone, than there really is no point to your work, it is more important to have someone absolutely hate your writing, than for them to just put it on the shelf and never remember it. He also mentioned that some of the best works come from authors that talk about the one topic that no one wants to hear about, talk about, or even know about- just as Going to Meet the Man had done. When I was talking about my feelings on the story I had just mentioned how much I felt that the best part of the story was the fact that he was so openly speaking of such a harsh, hidden topic. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, this blog and the responses I have got from people jumped into my head.
I have had people thanking me for writing, appreciative for giving others a different outlook on addicts, and just thanking me for the information they otherwise wouldn’t have known. The information on my blog isn’t new information, I didn’t find these statistics or feelings or create any of this. Everything I am writing are things that have been felt by several other people, statistics that were found by someone else– I am simply putting the information out there since no one else has. If I hadn’t lost Anna, I wouldn’t have learned this statistics. I wouldn’t be able to share this information if my best friend didn’t die. Heroin use was nothing I ever wanted to talk about, know about, and a death by overdose was absolutely something I never wanted to experience in my life. It is not something I would ever wish for any other person to experience in their life, however, it is absolutely something I love writing about. I love writing about it, in hopes that none of you do have to experience it in your life. In hopes that you will all see that pain, hurt, and disaster that is created from this monster. If you can stop one person in your life, if you can give one person any sort of information on how to help their loved one- I have succeeded. Although my posts are kind of all over the place- sad here, happy here, REALLY sad there- all in all, I hope you all can find something to share with another person, one thing that will help one person.
I have had a couple people message me with their personal thoughts on my writing (which I love hearing!! hint, hint), but the messages I have received are amazing. One of the first messages I received, an old high school classmate shared her experience with alcohol and pain killer addiction. First of all, I can only imagine the amount of strength it takes from someone suffering from an addiction to share that with someone who she was never super close with, so I was already impressed. She continued to share her story, and by the end I read, “So thank you for talking about it, and telling people what it’s like. My family won’t even talk to me anymore because of it.” I couldn’t believe it. She just told me some of her most intimate thoughts, and then thanked me?! To me, hearing her story and how she related to my posts was plenty enough. That is all I ever wanted from this, was to effect one person and to help them in their recovery, overcoming their addiction, anything. I just wanted one person to listen.
So you can imagine my reaction when I then received another message from another high school classmate. This time, she thanked me for being friends with Bryant. Thanked me for being friends with Bry, and thanked me for talking about how amazing he was and just telling his story. The next sentence I read, “I don’t know where I would be without that eye opener, so I probably owe him (and you) my life.” Wow. I had to read the message about four times before I could actually process what I was reading, and afterwards, I had no words. I could not believe it. “I probably owe Bryant my life. MY LIFE.” Bryant is gone and he is still here. He saved this persons life. I can’t stop repeating it in my head. I can’t tell you the happiness, the sadness, the joy, and just the overall overwhelming feeling I got from reading that message. I could not have been more proud to be his friend in my life.
Both of these messages I received were things no one wants to talk openly about, most people don’t want to hear about, and the person on the other side absolutely does not (but needs to) speak about. They are very personal, very real, and very hard to tell another person. That’s what makes it so important. That’s why we need to share these things. That’s what makes each and every one of us so important- the stuff that we don’t want to tell people, is the stuff we need to tell people. I never would have thought of myself as ‘a writer.’ I remember in high school, my parents would always get so frustrated that I had a better grade in German than I did in English! “You speak english! How does that happen?!” It was because I hated to read and write! So I have no idea how this blog comes out, I just know that it is important for other to hear it. This is my reality. This is happening. This happened to me. Everyone needs to know, just as much as you need to share your story. You never know who will be effected.
Another one of my friends who passed in an unjust way… Please read
After the Coroner’s inquest concluded Thursday Sept. 4 in Versailles, Craig Ellingson, father of drowning victim Brandon Ellingson, called the jury’s decision a “hometown verdict”. The Morgan County jury was seated to review the death of Brandon Ellingson, a 20 year-old native of Clive, Iowa and Arizona State University student, who died while in custody of the Missouri State Water Patrol on May 31 at the popular Midwest tourist destination, the Lake of the Ozarks. The Ellingson family was disappointed in the jury’s determination that Brandon’s death by drowning while handcuffed and in custody of Missouri State Highway Patrolman Anthony Piercy was ‘accidental’.
“I still think the inquest was a joke.” Craig Ellingson said following the decision Thursday. “Basically what they were trying to do was get Piercy off the hook so he…
View original post 10,765 more words
Why not brag to the world about how much strength, determination, and self-discipline you have, that allowed you to overcome such a horrible addiction? Why be shy about the fact that you are no longer that person anymore?
I ran into a familiar face and his girlfriend around Iowa City last week, one thing led to another and it turned out he knew Anna and was an addict in recovery himself. He knew Anna before the heroin, and during the heroin. He has been clean for a couple months now, but he hadn’t heard the whole story on Anna’s passing. I told him the whole story, and so many times he just kept saying, “That was me, I would do that too,” “Yeah, it so hard. I can’t even explain,” “No one else even can try to understand.” The conversation went on, and I was explaining to him the research I’m doing now, what I’ve learned, and how I want to change another person’s life. Throughout the conversation, he was sharing very personal details with me and his girlfriend about the dark thoughts and situations of heroin addicts, and the uncontrollable mentality that he so deeply regrets.
It got to a point about an hour into the conversation, his girlfriend randomly burst into tears and walked away. He ran to follow her, and I followed as well to make sure everything was okay. She kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s just… I can’t imagine him being that way, and I just love him and it just really hurts to hear him talk like that. Its scary to know that’s him.”
It took her awhile to clam down, but when she did I tried my best to explain to her that he is not that person anymore. He doesn’t even have the same mental processes he did back then. The fact that he is willing to talk about those things in front of her and who he was, is a very important thing. There is such a stigma against speaking out and the judgement that comes along with heroin addiction, no one wants to admit that they were in that place. My best friend couldn’t tell me either, and she is my best friend. Personally, I think people who overcome heroin addiction are some of the strongest, most amazing people in this world- not only heroin addiction but all addictions. It is such a monster, and so difficult to beat- they should be able to walk around sharing with the world what they went through and we should be congratulating them on becoming themselves again, not shunning them for who they used to be. Be proud of who you are, were, want to be. No matter what that is, share your stories with the world. I bet this world would be a much better place if we weren’t so scared of what other people are going to think of us for our actions.
Every day I am more and more amazed by our society and their complete lack of respect for themselves, and especially for others around them. Ignorance and disrespect is nothing new to our society, and it has been happening for many years. With all of the changes we have implemented, trying desperately to make ourselves into a whole, equal society- how come we never seem to find respect for each other?
During the time of slavery and discrimination, people obviously had no respect for each other. What’s worse, they had no logical reasoning behind their actions. Simply ‘because he/she is black,’ was a fair enough reason to spit on somebody as they walked by. How? What makes their inside any different than your inside? Nothing. MLK Jr. made that point, and proved to the world that we are all exactly the same. When my mother was younger, (after MLK Jr. had changed the idea of discrimination) as a mixed baby being raised by two white parents, others would continue to say disrespectful comments to her parents. In the seventies, my grandparents were walking through the grocery store with my mother in the cart. Another person had the nerve to ask, “What are you doing with a nigger in your cart?” They were speaking of a four-year-old baby. Can you imagine? How can you disrespect such an innocent soul, at such a young age.
We all wish to think that disrespect in these ways cease to exist in today’s society. Homosexual couples are now allow to be married, our president is black, so clearly the world has changed! People hardly even see color any more, and if they do- it’s typically to compliment someone on their beautiful skin tone.
If only that were true. If it isn’t one type of discrimination it’s another. If someone is rude to us at the store we automatically assume that are a huge b**** and they deserve whatever horrible karma comes their way- but what if they just lost their job? Lost their house? Is trying to leave an abusive relationship? You have no idea what is happening in their life. You have no reason to shun them for one rude action. What if you respond to their action by saying, “I hope you have a better day.” And that person bursts into tears because you are the first person in their life to care for them.
The discrimination that now hurts me the most in today’s society is the way people view addicts and recovering addicts. Many of you know that Des Moines has suffered multiple heroin overdose deaths since Anna died, and most recently was a young man from Roosevelt High School. The story was on the local news, and Anna/Anna’s Warriors was mentioned in the story. The stiry is absolutely horrendous and so wrong it makes me sick- but that is for another post. The part that really got to me was the online comments being made about the story on the KCCI website.
I quote, “Look at the bright side: with every overdose death there’s one less addict.”
How can you, as another person living in the dark world we live in, honestly think that way? What makes your live more valuable than the one who accidentally died? What are YOU doing with YOUR life that gives you the right to find the death of another person has a ‘bright side?’ It is mind boggling to me that people actually think this way of another human. Especially when they are saying it about my best friend. We are all people. People are people. We are not defined by the choices we have made, and no one should be judged by the mistakes they have made. Half of the people living on the streets, half of the people using drugs, they all have a bigger heart and more love than most of you reading this- because they are living in the worst hell they could ever imagine. Many of them are in this hell because they are masking such intense emotions. They would never wish that upon anyone else, and because of that- their love for others is amazing. They know they have made wrong choices, they are not proud of their drug use, but they are proud of each and every one of you who have never used drugs and most of them would give anything to be sure that you never do use drugs. So please- think about what you’re saying, think about how you’re comparing and judging people, think outside the box about who they could have been before and after using drugs or becoming an addict. The one who died of cocaine overdose because he was in med-school up studying all night on cocaine- could have cured cancer. Yes they made a wrong choice, but that doesn’t mean their life is not worth living.
Think about it. Think about who you are and how you look at those around you.
And never judge someone by their actions again.
I had to share with you a real life example of why the world needs Anna’s Warriors, Anna’s story, and a complete attitude change.
I work two jobs in order to pay for school, rent, and life in general. One of them is a receptionist at a hair salon, and the other is working at one of the better known bars in my college town as a bartender. Part of doing your job well, (without a required uniform) is adjusting yourself so that you ‘fit’ the position you hold. When I go to the salon, I wear conservative clothes, jewelry, cover my tattoos, fresh make up, hair done, and I’m prepared to interact with clients from age two to ninety-two. When I work at the bar, I change into a whole different mold. If I were to show up to the bar the same way I show up to the salon- students would either make fun of me for looking like an old woman, not order anything but water from me for fear that I had no idea what I was doing, or.. my boss would probably just fire me for losing more money than selling. If I were to show up to the salon the same way I show up to the bar, I’m pretty sure Ethel would have a heart attack on sight. Therefore, when I go to the bar, I wear more college-friendly clothes. Dresses (with shorts on underneath because I’m too much of a tomboy to trust myself without), short shorts (not too short, but you understand), crop tops, etc. I have no worries about showing my tattoos, and usually end up getting complimented on my ink. Because I am constantly flipping bottles, scooping ice, running back and forth, grabbing, stacking, and shaking things around with 180 students screaming, sweating out their alcohol consumption, and giving off more body heat than usual- it gets really hot behind the bar, so I always try to wear outfits that are going to keep me as cool as possible in fear of customers running from me because of my sweaty armpit B.O. (hot, I know). One tip for future bar employees: definitely NO full length pants, NO long sleeves, and as much as you hate them- crop tops and high waisted shorts ARE your friend. I cringe just thinking about my first shift while wearing jeans and a cute t-shirt (luckily it was black, so you couldn’t see the pit stains that reached to my waistline). Ugh.
The other night I was waiting for the bar to get busy and I could start working my shift. I usually sit at the bar, so I can still chat with other coworkers and friends around me. I was sitting alone at the time and an old friend walked in and sat next to me with his buddies. We were chatting and eventually he introduced me to one of the friends (we’ll call him Henry). Henry and I were chatting about school, where we are from, just normal, small talk things. He grew up in Texas, but his parents now live in Singapore due to a job transfer, because of this he told me about his envy of me for growing up so close to our college town that many of my childhood friends are still nearby. I chuckled a bit, and he said, “Well I mean, just like you could have childhood friends, I moved a lot so I never really got to have any, but yeah.” I’m assuming he thought I was a huge loser who actually didn’t have friends growing up, but I smiled again and said, “Yeah, I do. A few of my friends study here as well so it’s pretty cool to have people I know so well around, but unfortunately, I’ve had to bury a few of the others. I know they are still with me in spirit though.” His face just froze while he brainstormed an appropriate response. He apologized for my loss, and asked what had happened. I told him my best friend died of a heroin overdose in April, and I’ve had a couple other friends die of suicide. He apologized again, and told me about how he had to watch his father die of cancer when he was 19, so he knows what it’s like to lose someone so close.
As we kept talking, I told him it definitely is a very hard thing to go through, and that I was in a terrible place after Anna’s death. I then explained how I have finally come to find that I can do something good from her death, and I am now interested in DEA or drug rehabilitation counseling, since my degrees are in Criminology and Psychology.
He looked at me, laughed, and said, “You’re wearing a snap-back hat backwards, you have tattoos, you’re wearing that, you work in a bar and you want to be DEA? Ha! How does that work?”
With a little attitude, I promptly and conceitedly replied “Ask me how many times I’ve gone out drinking in the past 8 months. Then ask me how many drugs I’ve done in my life.”
Henry pondered for a bit, “Li- wait, you’re going to say 0 aren’t you?”
“Yep. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out drinking, I just don’t think it’s very fun anymore. I smoked weed before (sorry Grandma, Mom, and Dad & Elisa), but I don’t like it because I have a very controlling personality and it just wasn’t fun. That’s the only drug I’ve ever done. And my best friend since I was nine still managed to overdose on Heroin. Didn’t expect that did ya?”
Henry was shocked. “Wow,” he said, “I just completely judged you so differently and wrong. I thought you were like a typical college party girl who gets smashed like every night.”
Nope! I’m very far from it. I personally don’t understand the fun in spending an hour to get ready just to go sit in an extremely loud, crowded, dark place where you can’t hear each other, and having people not even look at my hair or face that I just spent an hour beautifying, but instead everywhere below that I haven’t spent twenty minutes on in the past month. That just really does not sound like my idea of a good time, personally.
After I had explained all of this to him, I began to giggle saying, “You know, it’s funny. I had written a blog about this same exact thing a bit ago. Anna’s family started a non-profit for this exact reason. People don’t know about heroin, don’t know who is doing heroin, and judge people by their outer appearance- often being so far from the truth. You just proved to me exactly why I am doing this, to educate people and show them the way their society really does judge people instead of love and listen to people. I told you Anna is with me all the time!”
After getting to spend the last couple weekends home, it’s amazing how much I have learned.. about everything! We were so lucky that Anna’s best friends from Nevada were able to come visit and stay with Carla, and I was able to spend a lot of my time over there catching up with the girls.
We had our share of ups and downs during the trip, but I soon learned it was all part of Anna’s plan. Nancy and Kathryn have been such a help in explaining to me how the mind of an addict and addict in recovery works. They have allowed me to ask nosey questions in order to pick their brains as an attempt to understand. They explained the details of addiction in a ‘dumbed’ down version, so that my (very innocent to addiction) self could better understand what they meant. Everything, good and bad, that happens now seems to always relate back to something Anna said before or some scheme she’s up to in heaven. I, personally, over the last couple weeks have learned a very hands on approach to what addictive behaviors look like. How the behaviors and mind of an addict are truly warped from this world and so far out of their control. After explaining all of the occurrences to Carla, she said to me, “Can you imagine Anna being that way?” That’s when I knew that Anna was trying to show me what it was like for her and how hard she struggled without any control over what she was doing, so that I can share that with you and help you to also understand what goes on.
Not every addict is exactly the same- some steal, some don’t. some manipulate with tears, some manipulate with pity, some feed off the people that love them most, some feed off of the helpful people who don’t know them at all, some are incredibly mean, some overly nice in order to receive care and affection, some push their families and friends away, some keep them close and use them as a crutch. Now matter the form in which the behaviors are being done, they are still doing them one way or another.
For me to really see it hands on was quite the experience! I fell into the trap as quickly as I’m sure most parents and close friends would. When I saw the way people that had previously dealt with addicts could spot these behaviors, their reactions to the behaviors, and observations the could make almost instantly- I was amazed! Even just saying something a different way, would change the behavior of the addict. If I were to say, “Don’t worry, I can lend you $5 for toothpaste and a soda.” The response would be, “Well, I actually need $10 because I really want to stop and get McDonald’s too.” But when someone can spot the behaviors of an addict, their response is, “Let’s go get you what you need, and nothing more. No you’re not going in alone I’m going with you.” and suddenly, that was the end of it. No more manipulation to suck more out of someone. When an addict says, “I’m going to a meeting now.” You can’t just hand them the keys and off they go. The correct behavior is for you to drop them off, walk them in, and pick them up afterwards. (Or have your sneaky friends with connections check up on who is attending the meeting that day.) Many parents have no idea how to respond to the behaviors of an addict. Even when their child is clean for days, weeks, months- the behaviors still tend to come out on occasion. As a friend, I would have no idea how to deal with the behaviors. That is a scary thought to know that we are allowing them to continue these behaviors without making a change, simply because we don’t know how to respond. We don’t want our child/friend to think that we don’t love them, don’t trust them even though they did make such a big life change, or that we don’t want to help them now that they’ve been sober. So what do we do?? When it seems like they are suffering so badly, do we just let them suffer? No, you get them proper help and care. Take them to a professional who knows what they are doing. Unfortunately, many financial means do not allow for everyone to get immediate, professional care. There are resources to help for free! Check out this link for a list of centers around you.
Addiction is truly, truly not something that one can control on their own. Most of the time, the addict doesn’t even realize what they’re doing until someone snaps them out of it. They don’t catch onto their behaviors because everyone is feeding into them and not telling them they are wrong. We don’t want to cause any pain to our loved one, or send them into a place where they are contemplating relapse, so instead we just go along with the behaviors and allow them to treat us poorly. That is not the right thing to do. People who have friends that are addicts or family members that are addicts should have a class or resource for online lessons that will teach them how to cope and behavior with recovering addicts in the home (another one of my personal issues with addiction facilities and treatment centers). Right now, we are sending the addict home from rehab, family thinking they are perfectly healed and can go about business as usual, but that is not the case. The need boundaries. In rehab, they have a set time to wake up, a set time for lunch, group meetings at certain times- a very strict schedule. In order for the recovery process to continue working so well, these things need to continue to be implemented when they leave the center. Giving them a free schedule with plenty of free time allows the addict to pick up old behaviors and friends almost immediately. The recovering addict also cannot be stuck in a little box while trying to figure out how to live life while being clean. It can lead to depression, causing another psychological issue that needs to be treated, and again leading to a relapse.
Living with an addict very closely resembles living with a handicap that can function alone, but needs to be monitored for the half of the day. It is not an easy task. I applaud any family that is willing to take their child back in and give them the help and stability they need because it is not easy for them to do. I can imagine it would be very frustrating having to babysit your thirty-year-old son the same way you did when he was thirteen- but it has to be done for a least the first few months post inpatient rehab. They need to get back on their feet, meet new people that aren’t triggers, and create a schedule for themselves that includes commitments they simply cannot miss (i.e. a close knit AA group that counts on their arrival, exercising with their sponsor who picks them up from home, a concrete work schedule, volunteering in places they enjoy and want to be, etc.) Anything to keep them busy and on track, without suffocating them completely from normal life. I can imagine it would be hard as the addict to do come home and have to do all of these things that they are not accustomed to, and I’m sure they often fight back- causing more stress and tension between family members, but it is so necessary. It’s not as easy as it seems, and people don’t understand the stress and difficulty behind it for the friends and family involved. Families and friends need to be educated on these things; only educating the addict and putting them right back into their trigger city is not going to keep them clean forever- some people, yes, but many young people need more motivation and supervision than only relying on themselves.
Not only do people look at attractive people and assume their lives are perfect, but we look at homeless, unkept, suffering people and assume they are too lazy to get a job or too strung out on a meth binge and it’s their own fault they are standing on the street begging for money.
Yesterday, while sitting out back at work, a few co-workers and I were chatting. There is a red house behind the salon, and there is always five kids running around- from ten months old to eleven years old. This time, however, Granny walks out. She says, “Hey y’all can I come over there? I just wanna talk!”
Although the “good employee” thing to do would be go back inside and not chit chat for an hour, (sorry Mike), but it was honestly just too awkward to leave after we all hesitated to answer and she said, “It’s ok, I just wanted to talk, I can go back inside.” So of course we invited her over, and she begins pouring out her life story.
She was an older black woman, the teeth she had left were clearly meth teeth, but she was so sweet it was hard to pay attention to that stuff. She started out telling us that her ‘mama raised her to respect peoples, no matter they color.’ She was from the south-side projects of Chicago (very rough area) and her father was a player. She has brothers and sisters all over the nation- not the world, the nation. Her father was good about making her get home and do her homework, but he often beat her mom and sister. She would always fight back when she saw her Dad beating on her Mom, and the last time she saw her father- she slammed him into a door and hit him with a baseball bat after he beat her mother.
She kept asking, “Is that bad? Am I wrong for that?” And I told her, absolutely not. Any man who is beating on a woman deserves to get knocked out with a bat. Preferably metal with a bunch of knives poking off of it, but that’s just me.
Anyway, she has a few children- including a son, who was born with a bad heart. He made it through 8 different heart surgeries- which Wanda called a blessing. The last one didn’t take.
This woman had come from the Chicago projects in hopes of a better life. She didn’t chose to grow up on the streets, and it was not her bad choices originally that put her there. When you were raised on the street, and our society labels you as ‘homeless’ or ‘a druggy,’ it is very difficult to think of yourself any other way. If society labels you deviant, you become deviant. With as little help that we have for people on the streets, and how uncontrollable the streets are- where was she supposed to go? How does she get an education when her school doesn’t even have books to give? Who is really to blame in these situations?
Now, I don’t expect any “sympathy” or want anyone to pity me. That’s not why I did this. However, often times we walk around looking at other people, and in our heads we can play out their entire life story. We see a beautifully tan, thin, attractive girl walking around campus with Michael Korrs shoes, watch, and purse, sun glasses on, and her hair freshly hi-lited– in our heads she has a perfect family in her Chicago suburb home, mommy and daddy are sending her money every week, she doesn’t have to work for anything and she has never been told “no” in her life. Well, I’m telling you no. Would you believe me if I told you her Mom was in jail two weeks ago? That she hardly sees her Dad? She doesn’t have a bedroom at her Mom’s house? Her MOM has stolen over one thousand dollars from HER in the past month? She has dealt with more police showing up at her house than friends? She bought those Michael Korrs luxuries herself. Her job allows her to have free hair services. She works almost 40 hours a week, while earning a degree in biochemistry.
Didn’t see that coming did you?
THAT’S why I wrote this blog. I’m sick of people looking at me like I have a perfect life, and when I am crying, sober, in a bar- they look at me like I should be embarrassed of my horrific behavior. Little do they know, I just found out a friend had drown.
Get your heads out of your @$$es and TALK to people. Ask if they are okay. Hear their stories. You might learn something.