Saturday, May 21, 2016

An open letter to the addict who still suffers

      I see you.  I know where you are.  Well, not geographically speaking, because that would be creepy.  But, you know what I mean.  I see you wake up every morning surprised that you, once again, escaped death.  Instead of being grateful for this miracle, you take that obligatory first step you take every single the pill, to the bottle, to the needle.  You can't even start your day until that stuff is ravaging through your veins, until you no longer feel like you; until you feel everything and nothing...all at once.

      I see you struggle through each and every day.  There are points in the day when you feel on top of the world, unstoppable, carefree.  But, that artificial feeling crashes and you experience an indescribable emptiness and loneliness, which can only be remedied by getting high again.  Your life is a vicious cycle of extreme highs and lows.  Your thoughts are centered on getting your next fix, and you will do anything and everything to get it.  It is the driving force and motivation in your life.  You lie, manipulate, and steal to get what you need/want.  No one believes a word you say, including you.

      I see you, the stay at home mom who goes through the motions every day.  You get the kids out of bed, pack their lunches, iron their perfect little clothing ensembles, throw them a granola bar to eat on the way to school, and silently pray that they didn't have homework the night before.  You can barely even remember the night before.  You think that you fed them, bathed them, and put them to bed.  You woke up this morning in your daughter's twin bed, covered up with her favorite blankie. You must have nodded out during her bedtime story....again.  She must have tucked you in instead of you tucking her in....again.  You drive your mini-van through the drop off line at school, even though at 8:30 am, you are already under the influence and should not be driving. Your kids exit the vehicle looking picture perfect, and you yell out, "Bye!  Love you!  Mommy will miss you!  Have a great day!"  No one would ever suspect that you are a drug addict or alcoholic.  You drive back home to your empty house and tell yourself you cannot have any more pills or another drink until noon. You make it fifteen minutes, and you pick back up again.  Your days could be filled with going to lunch with friends, working around the house, reading a book, or volunteering somewhere.  However, you spend the day in various intervals of sleeping and getting high or drunk.  You try to watch television in the midst of it all, but you never remember what happens.  When you realize that you only have an hour before your husband and the kids get home, you hop in the shower, hide all evidence of your daily activities, start some laundry, and run through the house making beds, doing dishes, and cleaning up like a madwoman to provide false proof of a productive day.  When your husband gets home, you tell him how tired you are because of all of the housework and lament about how the kids have just drained you lately.  You convince him to fix dinner and take care of bath time. You get the kids to bed, and he passes out shortly after because he is truly exhausted from working all day, then covering your shift when he got home from his long day.  You are just grateful that everyone is in bed so that you can have your "me time", and we all know what that entails.  You know that you need help, but there is not a chance that you will ask for it.  You will conceal this secret, even if it kills you....until it kills you.

   I see you, the high school basketball player.  You are playing on the opposing team of the one my daughter is cheering for.  You should be the best player out there, but there is something that is hindering you...something that is wearing you down.  You stumble all over the court, yet you are under the impression that you are playing your personal best.  Whereas you started out strong, you can now barely keep up.  You come close to where I am sitting on the sidelines to take the ball out, and I study your face. Your eyes are dark and hollowed.  Your complexion is ghastly and if I touched it, I think it would feel clammy.  I am confident I could wrap my fingers around your bicep.  I can't take my eyes off of you.  The entire game, I long to catch your attention and simply mouth the words, "I KNOW."  Someone needs to be brave enough to tell you that.  I wonder if anyone knows.  Your parents?  Coaches?  Teachers? Friends?  I feel sorry for you.  I'm sure that when you were partying with your friends one weekend and decided to try something new, you didn't imagine getting hooked so strongly.  They didn't.  So why did you?  You are so young and appear to be quite talented.  I hope you somehow get a wake-up call before you throw your entire life away.  I take a mental snapshot of your face, and I think about you often.  The boy whose name I do not know, but whose mind I can read.

  I see you, the girl who has given all of your pride away to get the one thing you think you cannot live without.  You feel dirty, worthless, and used, but you will do whatever it takes to catch that drug you're chasing.  When someone speaks to you, you cannot even look them in the eye, for fear that they will see right through you.  You feel ashamed.  You are someone's daughter.  You were someone's student; someone's friend.  You won the spelling bee in the second grade, and you slept with a teddy bear well into your teenage years.  You were kind to everyone, especially the shy chubby girl who repeatedly got picked last when teams were chosen.  You always tried to be captain, just so you could pick her first....or maybe second, so that it didn't look obvious.  You loved to play outside, ride bikes, and do cartwheels in the grass.  You wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or maybe even the first female president.  Those memories seem a world away these days.  You are so far off track that you don't even remember yourself.  You could have been anything you wanted to be, gone anywhere you wanted to go; yet you stand on a street corner, a slave to your addiction....a slave to yourself.

  I see you, the addict.  I see you struggle, while trying to act like you've got it all under control.  I watch you slowly die, while you insist you do not have a problem.  I watch you refuse help, while, deep down, you know you desperately need it.  I watch you build walls, while, inwardly longing for someone to tear them down.  I watch you try to succeed yet repeatedly fail.  I watch you try to love the people around you while destroying them.  I watch you pretend to be happy and free; yet, truthfully, you are discouraged, defeated, and downtrodden.  I see you.  I was you.  I am you.

 And, what do others see when they look at you?
They see an addict.
A liar.
A thief.
A prostitute.
A drug dealer.
A felon.
A woman who should have her kids taken from her.

But do you know what I see?
I see an addict who can recover.
I see a liar who will one day tell the truth.
I see a thief who will regain trust.
I see a prostitute who will redeem her self-worth and purity.
I see a drug dealer who will have a new story to sell.
I see a felon who will break free from the chains of bondage.
I see a woman who loves her kids so deeply that she will do whatever it takes to be in their lives.

I see you.  I see past the scars, past the bruises, past the things you have done.  I see a future.  I see redemption.  I see hope.  

Now, walk to the mirror and take a long, hard look.  Tell me, what do you see?  

***To read my story about being an unlikely addict, click here.


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