beware the walrus..

Two years ago, my daughter was admitted to the psych ward, where she stayed a couple of weeks before she was well enough to transfer to an inpatient facility.  Sometime in the first couple of days, she was taken to the Sun Room, and she drew, with chalk, what you see below, and gave it to me.  She has no memory of doing so, or of those lost days.

Though she’s always been a Beatle lover, she’s never mentioned this album or song.  The word balloon from the submarine may have been an afterthought – it’s the only thing in pencil. McCartney has always said it was a light-hearted song (hence Ringo singing), not remotely about drugs, and that yellow is a happy color – it’s a psychedelic ode to silliness.

I’ve wondered and wondered about her subconscious (then and now), and what’s up with the walrus warning. God knows her music collection is over ripe with vein opening, angst ridden,  write-love-on-her-arms images.  Why this silly, innocent picture?

yellow sub

I love this kid more than my life.

(15 minutes later) Cue the time-space continuum. As I typed those words, my phone rang and I answered it without looking.  I have not been answering “restricted” calls for many weeks…as she was in and out of emergency rooms, and then back in detox, and there’s not a damn thing I could do except decide not to listen to her vitriolic rage and hate filled diatribes.  And you guessed it, it was her, except what we call the “old” her was speaking to me in that articulate, fluid, lyrical voice I’ve missed.    How fucking ironic is this…do I buy a ticket to ride, again?

writing out loud

Why the hell am I writing this? shutterstock_122485786-1024x640

First, spare me and yourself the it’s so sad, how did this happen garbage.

Second, there is no shame, no blame, no hate, no embarrassment, no resentment that I bear my daughter.  On the contrary, my love for her is immeasurable, my respect for her immense, she is in my heart and soul, unconditionally.  She has a disease.  I am humbled at how she continues to endure what is a life-long hell on earth.  She is a beautiful, artistic, graceful, fragile creature of air and light who didn’t choose bi-polar, heroin addiction as a life path.  She has a disease, for which this country offers jail, institutions, or death as the treatments of choice.

Third, I, we, her family, finally have our backs against the wall;  the only way we can help her now is to deliberately, even callously,  leave her to her own devices.  And baby, that sucks every ounce of strength I have.  So I thought, write.  I know there are so many people out there in the same stinking boat, feeling the same stinking way, so I thought, write it out loud, write the truth, because it’s not just about me anymore.  And maybe, somewhere in these words, I’ll find some peace of mind, some piece of my mind. And maybe more people will realize that her disease is not a crime, not a choice, and that families are no more equipped to treat this disease on our own than we could cancer.

Fourth, and utterly essential to my survival, is because if she can suffer this, I can goddamn well be her mother through it, even if it’s from a self-imposed, soul-tearing distance, and I can goddamn well not pretend she doesn’t exist, or that everything’s peachy-keen, or that I have a clue how to keep it together.

just a little pin prick

I came to my teen years during the late sixties, the decade of protest and change. No parent of my age is naive to the trinity of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll…we invented it, we lived through the fads – grass to cocaine to pills.  The sixties and seventies were rife with hard-core drug songs: Lucy in the Sky, Cold Turkey, White Rabbit, Sister Morphine, Gold Dust Woman, and Heroin.  Neil Young’s The Needle and the Damage Done was likely one of the earliest drug-warning laments.  Nathaniel Rateliff’s S.O.B. aint nothing new.  My parents both hailed from a long line of alcoholics, but the addiction gene went past me without so much as a glance.

My sons, born in the early eighties, also dodged the gene bullet.  My daughter, born in the late eighties,  rose through her teen years as a privileged, suburban, white collar college student, who loved ballet, art, social causes, and her friends.  That she is bi-polar wasn’t something obvious until too late.  The gene did not pass her by – it wrapped itself around her and practically invited the college boyfriend to introduce her to his close personal friend, the devil.  Opiates, the needle, and hell on earth. It can happen to anybody…brutal comfort.

I wonder if my generation didn’t just take the counter-culture-became-our-culture for granted, and not for the sordid warning it should have been?  So smack (no fucking pun, believe me) me in the face with a shovel, and  our kids are dying in a heroin plague.  My daughter is still dancing with the devil, but my son’s best friend, over a dozen young women I’ve met through my daughter’s programs, young men and women my kids went to high school and college with, are all overdosed and gone – all in the arms of an Angel, and God bless her, but Sarah McLachlan was not writing about heaven, but about a friend’s heroin death.

May they find some comfort there.

My name is Lynne, I’m the mother of an addict…

At the many ‘meetings’ I’ve attended over the years, I’ve learned the proper introduction.  “My name is Lynne, I’m the mother of an addict”.  And the response greeting  “Hi Lynne”.  The benediction is “keep coming back”.  My only daughter is a mentally ill addict.  Years of world-class enabling, co-depending, tough love, therapy, medication, meetings, emergencies, in-patient, blood, sweat, and tears.  A spiral of hopeless to hopeful to numb..nothing goddamn comfortable about it.

Intellectually, I know I can’t control it, didn’t cause it, can’t cure it…yada yada yada.  Not bloody acceptable.  The life of an addict’s mother often mimics the life of the addict – the panic, the illnesses, the drama, the family issues, losing time from work and life issues, the self-medicating, the manipulating, the despair, the anxiety, the depression, the impassivity, the denial, the disruptions, the false fronts…the crash and burn.  My counselor says I’ve hit the wall at warp speed…every tragedy in my life has been aroused to join the
physical, emotional, and intellectual toll taking…it’s my own personal fucked up limbic system hit parade.  I can’t, won’t opt out of this relationship…I’m in it ’til one of us is gone, and beyond.

And I don’t need to be told “keep coming back”, because I’ve never left; I have no perspective, and  I’ve forgotten how to love and support myself…to protect myself.