My junkie was the second child of five. It started out four, but we gained an extra long about her age 12.
At the time of "discovery" our other children were age 10, 14, 20 and 22. We had two grandchildren at home, ages newborn and 1.
It took me three years of having the junkie in our home to realize how damaging it was becoming for the other kids. It took the birth of an addicted baby, the arrest of the junkie's husband.
It took the pain of my youngest daughter starting middle school where her sister was the "star" pupil and everyone in the school now knew that she was a heroin addict in a small town. It took the pain of my son starting high school with the same thing hanging over his head. his sister had been valedictorian of her class.
I slowly watched my children becoming surly, mad at everyone, resentful. I blamed it on puberty, the angst of high school, the business of a large family.
Then I pulled my head out of my ass and realized that it was the addict, poisoning the rest of the family dynamics and ME allowing it to happen.
I wasn't THERE for my other kids. I was too much THERE for the addict, trying to save her. The money wasn't there for the other kids, for school trips, for first cars, for abercrombie clothes. It all went to 'saving' the addict, who didn't really want to be saved.
My other kids deserved the same mom that the addict got. they deserved the same amount of attention to their little and insignifcant (to me) problems that I was devoting to the huge problems of the addict.
And, I wasn't giving them what their birthright called for. A mother who is there for them.
It's just different when there are other kids in the home. 10 years later, my other kids are okay. They have come to me and thanked me for taking their sister out of the home, out of their lives. 3 of the other four kids have graduated college and are doing very well. The youngest is still in college. The babies are doing well in school. They all still go to counseling, but they are good and honest and decent people.
I saved them. I couldn't save their sister. I had to make hard, hurting choices. They were all my babies.
But I couldn't sacrifice four to save one. I had to sacrifice one to save four. Sometimes, it just comes down to plain old math.
I don't regret it.
Maybe, if I only had one child. But I didn't. Some do not understand. They say, HOW can you turn your back on your daughter? Because I refused to TURN MY BACK on her siblings. Her siblings who were NOT into drugs, but were slowly going down the road of emotional abandonment, resentfulness and pain. that would have LED them right into the frame of mind necessary to start with drugs.
That would have led to the childish thoughts (but they were children, after all) of WELL, maybe if I use drugs I will get the same attention my idiot sister gets.
I couldn't have that.
That was my choice. It won't work for many, but it worked for a large and loving family who had a Mom who was being drained by the addict, leaving only a bare and empty husk to give my other kids. I had to refill the husk and make it a vibrant and full person capable of loving again.
And that's just the way it was.