Total Pageviews

Friday, June 3, 2011

It is just different when you have other kids at home.

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.


  1. Anyone who would comment, "how could you turn your back on your daughter", doesn't have a clue about addiction. I initially did the same as you, sacrificing the rest of my family to fix the addict. I finally saw the light and told my addict that addiction had already destroyed him, and if I didn't make changes in our family life, the addiction would take down the rest of us as well. We have to learn to do whatever it takes to prevent further devastation from this disease.
    I have been following your blog for some time. I appreciate your brutal honesty.

  2. My son is in recovery and currently living at home. He is doing well, but I am starting to feel the fallout from the hurt he's inflicted on his younger siblings. To call us dysfunctional would be an understatement. He has just starting working full time. I'm hoping he will be in a position to move out soon. On the other hand, I will do whatever it takes to support his recovery. He uses again and he's out.

  3. I am not so sure that you have abandoned your addicted daughter. You just stopped trying to fix her. As I recall you do talk to her but you do not give her money.

    It is sometimes impossible to live in the same house with another person even though we love them.

    You have done a lot for your daughter by raising her children and supervising her visits with them.

    I hope you can exoress your love to her sometimes as I believe you still love her. In my opinion, your love will neither cure her nor harm her. It just is and that is a positive thing.

    On the other hand, if you do not feel much love for her anymore, you go way above and beyond with those grandchildren. That too, is an exprssion of your love for the mother and her children.

    I have experienced many deaths recently and I have been surprised at the depth of my feelings even in the face of some difficult relationships. I do not regret in the least having always loved my mother in spite of some major issues along the way. Many times when she was alive I thought she could have done better. Now that she is dead I am convinced that she always loved me and always did the best she could.

  4. Even if you only have one child, you still have to save yourself. It just plain sucks to be the mother of an addict.

  5. @CameToBelieve, there are many who criticize me for voicing my feelings, or lack thereof. To them I say, "walk a mile in my shoes. All parents of addicts are not in the same situation. therefore, do not be too judgmental. If I had only one child, and she were an addict, I would do things differently. If there were no children involved, I would have done things differently. But she wasn't an only child, and there WERE babies, defenseless babies, involved. IT is what it is. Thank you.

  6. @NotMyBoy. You know, when I started out, I thought it would show the other kids what the definition of FAMILY was. That you do what you have to do, you don't turn your back on one of your own. I really believed that. Then, I saw how much THEY were suffering at the hands of their sister's addiction. Talk about a mind F**K. I felt like I had to choose, one of my children over the others. Not a good place to be for any mom. EVER.

    All I could remember was that quote from High School that I couldn't even remember who said it. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

    Then, I remembered something a friend of mine had said to me a few years back about HER children. She told them, "you are like a baking project. I put the ingredients together carefully. I stirred the right amount, added lots and lots of little things to improve the basic recipe, I made sure the pan was right, the temperature was right, and I watched you cook and took you out at exactly the right time. you are now fully baked. I can't go back and add 'this' or subtract 'that'. The baking is finished, you are now fully cooked. You either turned out okay, and are delicious, or you didn't. If you didn't, it is up to you to garnish the finished product to make it palatable and good."

    I did all those things with my daughter, as did most of us. the recipe didn't turn out quite right. But, I realized that I really couldn't add or subtract any of the ingredients. It was now simply up to her to finish the garnish.

    I hate my memory.

  7. @Anna. It's really difficult. It has taken years, but I have caught myself almost, ALMOST saying "i love you too" at the end of a conversation, or when she leaves. But, I do not.

    Am I punishing her? Probably. She talks about how she wishes that we could love each other like we used to and all I can think about is "yah, and I wish you hadn't stuck needles full of heroin in your arm too, wish in one hand, SH*T in the other, let me know which one fills up first?"

    Sometimes, I really hate myself. Then I realize, I just am NOT THERE yet.

    Will I ever be? I honestly don't know.

    I did tell her about a month ago. "Remember when you were pregnant the first time, and after the baby was born you were upset because your body didn't return to it's pre-pregnancy state right away? And the doctor told you..."it took 9 months for your body to get this stretched out, it is going to take the full 9 months for it to bounce back..."

    Then I said, I am kind of like that now. It took 10 years of damage to get to HERE. It is probably going to take the full 10 years of NOT damage for us to return to where we used to be.

    she just looked at me.

    and I looked at her.

    and then I said,

    maybe, maybe, we will both still be alive for that.

  8. @MomTryingToDetachWithLove.

    YES. it certainly does suck. No ifs, ands or buts about it. It just sucks.

  9. Dawn, You are missing one very important fact in this equation. J isn't using, he is in general thriving. He has friends, had a job??? spending his money wisely and helping around the house, getting up like a normal human being. In fact just being kind of normal. I get that this could all change on a dime but I am not prepared to sell him down the river because he might relapse. I can't do that.

    What I am experiencing may have a lot to do with the worry that he will relapse BUT, J is thriving but I am not. My problems with my husband are just magnified. My lack of attention given to my other children have become crystal clear. Mostly because my attention and feelings are not being sucked into J's active addiction. These are my problems, I am not heaving them on to any one elses shoulders just because J fucked with all our lives for two years. I need to figure this out without blaming or accusing. I watch my husband do it EVERYDAY, I know this is not working. I am not joining in.

    Thank you for writing this post. I recognize that it is about me but I can not just say "J you suck you have made my life miserable and messed everything up....Get out! Glad you are doing great but get the hell out." I can't.

    Maybe next week...maybe tomorrow but not today.

    Another part of me wonders if all these emotions of doom and gloom are intuition telling me to prepare for the worst because it is most certainly coming. I really hope not because I think honestly I may need to be hospitalized.

  10. @Mady. I know. honest to God, I really do. I wish I was there to help you. {{{{hugs}}}}

  11. I think we all have to deal with our addicts differently. We are different and so are they. I spent about 5 years trying to fix mine but that was when he was getting into trouble not crazed on drugs. It was about 1 1/2 yrs I took of him living here on drugs with his several attempts to get clean, commit suicide, etc. I still have too much to do with him, I know I do, but I don't give him money and I do my best to not let his actions affect my younger son,or me but I have only one younger son. It is so hard to know what to do but Dawn you spent years AND have her children to take care of. I don't know what I would do in that position. I am sure I would take the kids but I would feel extremely angry towards my son. Like @Mady, I would probably let him move back in if he went to a minimum 3 month rehab and 3 month sober living OR help him pay for a room to rent or something. Only if he was clean....but then again I don't know I haven't been lucky enough for him to be clean long enough to make that decision. I love what you write and your honesty.

  12. You know it does my head in when I see those online adverts (nearly all from America) waving the prospect of it all being made better for a mere $20,000 or so (rehab). No!!!

    I wish I could think up some other solution: NA? Methadone? Maybe?

    You put your finger right on it when you said "didn't want to be helped".

    I only started getting ANYWHERE after ten years. All that time!