During this time, in this Tangled Tulip’s fashion, I delved in as deep as I could process at the time to the world of addiction and recovery. I began reading and studying everything I could find so that we could nip this in the bud and move on. Before this, I am ashamed to say what I thought drug addicts were like and what I associated them with. Because my eyes have been opened so much wider now. I don’t even know if I could fully articulate today what I thought addiction was then. I was so judgmental and simplistically minded about it. That makes me sad, but it is the truth. I can say that I wasn’t closely engaged with drug use or addicts to my knowledge. We never had drugs in or around our home. I have never even smoked a cigarette and barely take medication even when it’s prescribed. Sure, I went to school with people who I heard had gotten ‘strung out’ or I would hear about ‘methheads’ in the news. J’s dad and I, a high school rebellion romance, had parted ways when she was just a few weeks old. He started smoking crack in his twenties. He has since stopped using, but I was clueless to what it really even meant for him. I would hear rumors of him stealing lawnmowers and coming in his mom’s house at all hours of the night, but not much beyond that. Other than making him more of a bum, that was the extent of comprehension I had of him as a ‘crackhead’. He also had not held any significant presence in her life so his issues were very distant to us.
I didn’t have personal affiliation with ‘dopeheads’ in my family or extended circle. I use these terms loosely because that was the naive, unaware, unaffected me. Until now, that’s what I thought of it as, just a simple loser label with a bum mentality–not really much more than that. It is what I associated with that lifestyle before I knew better, before I knew it firsthand. It was before my heart was changed, because, my heart, literally was plagued by this monster I once thought was simple as a derogatory label. I never realized the six degrees of separation would or could possibly zoom in so close to my world. I never dreamed my beautiful daughter would use a drug, illegal or otherwise, much less be a drug addict. It’s funny, but not, it wasn’t until completing admission paperwork for J’s first treatment did I ever correlate her Dad’s drug use as a potential red flag for her being predisposed to a high risk for addiction. Sure, I gave all the parenting speeches on Just Say No and Drugs are Bad, etc. But, I never dreamed this would touch our world because I thought I had placed us in a bubble of protection–far from that world. Y’all, I was clueless. I knew what I had watched on Intervention and my heart ached for ‘those people’, the drug users and their families. I was sad that it happened to them, but I never grasped the magnitude of what it all meant. The gravity of how it consumed not only the addict, but everyone around who loved them. I was oblivious rot the path of destruction, heartache, and turmoil that it unleashed on everyone in its path. That happened to other people in other places, not in my home, not my baby. Even at this point, I remember thinking – after these little 90 days J will get all bandaged up, this will be behind us and everything will be all better. She can start fresh and this nightmare will be over. Done-zo! Can you tell how ‘miss fix it you just don’t get it” I was?
Over the next 45 days, J detoxed and began the initial phase of recovery in a huge estate like home nestled in a picturesque setting of North Georgia. It was nothing like the institutional sterile cinderblock lockdown unit I envisioned. I’m telling you, I was Clueless Cutie here. She was with 20 or so other women of all ages and backgrounds. As her discharge neared, she agreed to follow the treatment recommendation for aftercare. I began making arrangements for J to continue the next phase of her treatment at a step down facility. They only recommended options out-of-state. This placement was trickier than the first, but not overly complicated. We put her on a plane to fly to Florida alone, delivering her from door to door treatment and she spent the next 30 days in an intensive outpatient program. Nearing the end of her time allotted there, discharge discussions recommended the next stop for rehabilitation to a sober living home. Being completely ignorant to addiction and recovery and muddling through a crash course in learning the ins and outs of this new world (literally) I fluttered through the devastation and emotionally turbulent reality of this life changing new normal. After dozens of phone calls and numerous roadblocks followed by countless dead ends, I finally secured a sober living that was credible, within a price range even with a major sacrifice we could barely make happen, and they had bed availability—if you have ever done this kind of homework, you know what a daunting nearly impossible task this truly is.
J had been committed to the process over the first 75 days of what I learned was her longest length of sobriety in the last 4 years. Crazy that I was not aware of this until now! This Tangled Tulip was a totally an in your face, up close and personal, all in your business, 100 question asking, CIA operative, Inspector Gadget ain’t got nothing on me kind of mama. And I still missed it. Anyway, J had dug in and was doing a lot of emotional work. She seemed to be moving in the right direction. Past traumas I had misunderstood or minimized the impact of were coming to the surface and being worked through. We both were learning so much. I was learning a lot about her and even more about myself. In mid July of 2016, J completed her work in Florida and flew back to Georgia. We accomplished another successful door to door treatment transfer.
On a hot mid-July afternoon we moved J into the sober living much like you would move a recent graduate into a college dorm for the first time. She was living with 3 roommates and a house manager. It was a modernly decorated townhome tucked away in the suburbs of our home state less than an hour from our home. J was clear minded, optimistic, and appeared truly engaged in her sobriety. We were both started to digest this new world we found ourselves in the midst of. Things appeared to be trending up. It finally felt like we were getting closer to putting this nightmare in our rearview mirror.
To be continued….
The Tangled Tulip