“I am an addict. I fucking love shooting heroin. I love it. You would love it too if you tried it.” – My daughter, April 13, 2015, calling home from Arbor Hospital in N. Attleboro
Until I heard these words I had not fully believed she was an addict. I thought depression, anxiety, poor impulse control and the wrong crowd had led to a misuse of substances. But addiction? To heroin?
The next day she refused further treatment and checked out of the dual diagnosis facility the ambulance had transported her to just a few days prior. The power of her spoken words just a memory. How could they let her leave? Why would she choose to leave? She called once more explaining that she would be staying with an unnamed girlfriend in New Bedford: “There won’t be any problems. She will teach me to drive. There is a community college nearby. I will go to a Suboxone clinic.”
Who was this mystery person who would house my homeless daughter? How can you practice driving without a permit? How can you go to college when you dropped out of high school? How can you start a new life in hospital scrubs? All those motherly questions remained unanswered.
I wanted to believe this new friend was safe; but her last “safe” roomie was dead. Do addicts believe the yarns they spin?
Then my texted treatises begin. I had become as manic and as lost as my daughter. I warned that she couldn’t live a happy, healthy life on dope. I explained why “home is not an option,” and I begged her to reconsider treatment. I feared her death and every morning I asked myself “will this be the day?” I didn’t want her to leave this world hating me or not seeing a way out of the paper bag she had put herself in. I wanted to clear the mind debris; hers… and mine.
But my words got no response. Eventually I just texted that I loved her unconditionally…. even if she couldn’t kick this. Each time I wrote it I felt like I was signing a death warrant. But we all die. But not all of us die feeling loved. I wanted her to know that her mother would always, always love her.
For weeks upon weeks I got no reply.
My daughter was a young adult of nineteen years. The law, the courts, the healthcare system all had decided that it was none of my business. My sick child was now the captain of her own ship.
After a month or two – I received a reply. She did not tell me where she was. But instead wrote, “you will always be the greatest mom in the whole wide world.”
I did not feel grateful. Instead, I felt sick. My daughter was now doing the equivalent of what I had been doing: making sure all of our interactions were kind because we may not have many left. I knew her words would save me if the worst came to pass. But I did not want to hear them.
This disease is so heart achingly difficult to process that sometimes silence gives more comfort than words. And how does a mother find comfort in that?