When I was about nine, my siblings and I fell out of our moving van at an intersection. My dad didn’t notice for about five blocks. It was back before seat belts. It was also back before parents used any sort of common sense whatsoever. It was a time when you didn’t raise your children. You just fed them and they got bigger.
My daughter, Carly, has been in and out of drug treatment facilities since she was thirteen. Every time she goes away, I have a routine: I go through her room and search for drugs she may have left behind. We have a laugh these days because Carly says, “So you were lookingfor drugs I might have left behind? I’m a drug addict, Mother. We don’t leave drugs behind, especially if we’re going into treatment. We do all the drugs. We don’t save drugs back for later. If I have drugs, I do them. All of them. If I had my way, we would stop for more drugs on the way to rehab, and I would do them in the parking lot of the treatment center.
There are millions of people out there who live this way, and their hearts are breaking just like mine. It’s okay to say, “My kid is a drug addict or alcoholic, and I still love them and I’m still proud of them.” Hold your head up and have a cappuccino. Take a trip. Hang your Christmas lights and hide colored eggs. Cry, laugh, then take a nap. And when we all get to the end of the road, I’m going to write a story that’s so happy it’s going to make your liver explode. It’s going to be a great day.
The decision-making part of the brain of an individual who has been using crystal meth is very interesting. When Carly and Andy were in their apartment, they ran out of drugs. They sold every single thing they had except two things: a couch and a blow torch. They had to make a decision because something had to be sold to buy more drugs. A normal person would automatically think, Sell the blow torch. But Andy and Carly sat on the couch, looking at the couch and looking at the blow torch, and the choice brought intense confusion. The couch? The blow torch? I mean, we may not need the blow torch today, but what about tomorrow? If we sell the couch, we can still sit wherever we want. But the blow torch? A blow torch is a very specific item. If you’re doing a project and you need a blow torch, you can’t substitute something else for it. You would have to have a blow torch, right? In the end, they sold the couch.
I thought over and over about what I was going to do when Carly overdosed and died. How would we go on? And then I knew: I wouldn’t go on. And then I realized that it was just going to be too painful to actually have to watch her die. Right in front of me. My daughter was dying. That’s when I snapped.
I felt empty and sad for years, and for a long, long time, alcohol worked. I’d drink, and all the sadness would go away. Not only did the sadness go away, but I was fantastic. I was beautiful, funny, I had a great figure, and I could do math. But at some point, the booze stopped working. That’s when drinking started sucking. Every time I drank, I could feel pieces of me leaving. I continued to drink until there was nothing left. Just emptiness.