This entry is sort of a continuation of my response to Hashish Dreams and Heroin Nightmares entry Number One. She had been discussing mothers with young children who were still in the midst of active use and addiction. Even though she, herself, had once been a very heavy drug abuser, finding out she was going to have a child and then his subsequent birth had really been the impetus needed to straighten out her life. She found herself questioning how other women in similar situations were able to continue to use and abuse drugs. This particular issue is one I have very strong feelings about and the following is my response to what she had written:
I am also a recovering addict with just over four and a half years clean time under my belt so far..this time anyway...I am also a mother to two beautiful girls - no, women now - both of whom are in their twenties. Pretty simple math to see that I was indeed an active user at some point of their lives as they were growing up these past couple of decades. I make no apologies now, although I have and did many times over to reach my current space.This particular issue has driven me to distraction for an eternity...I remember a couple of years ago while having a conversation with a friend she happened to ask me if I had ever hit in front of the girls. Boy, I have to admit that this question really took me aback as I’d been having a hard time even accepting the fact that they know that I was/am a user. As long as they were unaware, it was much easier for me to remain actively addicted with far less guilt and greater denial. Even though when Sara was much younger though I wouldn’t even use in the privacy of the bathroom if she was in the house. I’d sooner say that I was going out to get coffee and doughnuts and do it at the nearest Tim Horton’s than sully her safe place. Always felt that to use when she was anywhere around would ultimately be bad karma for her and me regardless of how well I happened to keep my use hidden.
Personally, I managed to abstain from everything except alcohol for the first ten years as a mother. Shortly after Sara's ninth birthday I ended up opening my own business which just happened to be a small live entertainment venue - a bar where the local punk bands had a place to get their first start et al...OK? Now, for the next two years a lot of my time was spent building my business and everything that this entails. Obviously I had to socialize more than I had previously and from this, everything else seemed to follow. I know I don't need to paint a picture. This lead to my first go-round with methadone.
Spent five years completely opiate free until towards the end of 2003 when, after nine months of living my Dad's battle with cancer and radiation and chemo and then his death finally, I made the arrogant mistake of believing I would be the exception to the rule of just being able to do it one more time...
To say this was an error in judgment would have to be the understatement of last century. And from there I am now here. Those couple of years of use during their early teen years I now regret very much. At the time, I was able to rationalize with the best of them cause I never, ever disappeared, I was always there when they went to school and again upon their return. I never ever missed an opportunity to volunteer at their schools and attended every single one of their school trips/outings even when they had started high school.
But, honestly, I was probably just there in body and not really in spirit, but this topic still causes me a lot of discomfort so...I understand though, your feelings on this subject from the perspective of a new Mom cause this was one realm I simply was unable to understand - while pregnant and especially during your baby's formative years, you really can't be both an addict and a mother. Make a choice. Choose one. Stick with it. Don't be so bloody selfish that by your actions you end up creating one more victim of this disease that the world does not need, nor does this innocent deserve.
Please, understand me, I was not at all suggesting that you would happen to fall into this category either. I get we both are very much on the same page regarding this issue. If interested, I ranted about this very topic over a year and a half ago but in much greater detail.
NO LONGER WANT - OR NEED - THE CHAOS
NO LONGER WANT - OR NEED - THE CHAOS PART TWO
NO LONGER WANT - OR NEED - THE CHAOS PART THREE
Please, excuse my very long post. I apologize for carrying on as long as I did and I thank you in advance for allowing me to do this.
peace, love and happiness...
I mean I was so protective of this form of lifestyle never intentionally crossing her path at any age that except for one brief bit of time which didn’t end up working out anyway, no dealer has even ever set foot in my house nor any other obvious user. We always took our business far away from our home and as she got older and more aware, unless I could hook up with someone prior to her getting home from school then I would also never leave the house once she was home for the day to hook us up. My regular dealers got used to my peculiar rules after awhile and did attempt to be as accommodating as possible once they realized that this would be to their benefit considering the amount of money that Jim and I would be spending and spending consistently and on a regular basis.
The only time that I would break my rule of not using while she was in the house would be late into the night while she was fast asleep and then of course, I would lock myself safely in the bathroom but I still always felt a certain amount of discomfort. I know that the question to me wasn’t meant to hurt or insult as I myself have encountered my share of junky moms who drag their kids to their dealers house with no regard to their mental health or even physical safety. Discreet these ladies are not. And yes I know that many of them will also use in front of them while they are infants and even preschoolers. This makes me cringe like nothing else either.
To be honest, most of my past dealers weren’t even aware that I had a child and the majority of the users that I would encounter at my dealers certainly were in the dark about this part of my life. If this subject did happen to come up, generally the first question that someone would end up asking me was whether or not I got to see my kid on a regular basis. WTF? Well of course I do as she has never been away from me for so much as an evening. The majority were always stunned that after all these years I still had custody as most of them had long since lost custody of theirs due to their negligent behaviour. Colour me shocked.
This part of my addicted past has always caused me the most trouble emotionally and mentally. The one thing that I learned early into my opiate addiction was the relative ease at which a junky is able to rationalize away any type of their behaviour. This is one stereotypical characteristic that I was not immune to although prior to my addiction nothing could have caused me to act in manner that would be considered morally or ethically grey. Opiate addiction seems to strip this away from the most upstanding citizen rather quickly. I was no exception. It is shocking how easily I was able to slide into a previously unfamiliar area with no thought to any possible consequences.
In my entire life, I had never once opened my mother’s purse unless she had expressly asked me to but the moment that my use moved away from recreational, searching to see if she had any spare money gave me no qualms of guilt whatsoever. I remember walking by an unlocked truck one day which just happened to have a purse sitting in view of me and without missing so much as a beat, I had that door opened and the purse in my hand and me down that street out of view in record time. Where this even came from to this day I don’t even know but I can vividly remember how excited I was when I discovered that there was close to $400 in it. I am sure that I was at my dealer’s front door less than fifteen minutes later.
It is only now that I am back on methadone that I am moving out of this ethically challenged underworld.
When Sara was blissfully unaware of what we did for our recreation pleasure, I was able to use with absolute abandon. I suffered no or very little guilty feelings due to my use because I was able to rationalize it away with the fact that she was looked after first and foremost before any dope was even purchased. My child would never, ever suffer because of our addictions or weaknesses. In this regard, I may have actually done more harm than good but only time will really tell. To compensate for my weakness, Sara was never without anything that her heart desired. If all of the kids had the hottest pair of bluejeans then I made sure that Sara had half a dozen of them.
My intent was to ensure that she would in no way suffer because of us. I remember when she was in Grade 8 talking to some of the part timers here at work, some of whom were still in high school themselves, and asking them if I was being fair with her giving her an allowance of only $50 a week. Each and everyone of them was stunned silent and once they had found their collective voices they wanted me to adopt them. They thought that I was insane giving a thirteen year old that kind of pocket money considering that she didn’t have to even buy any of her own things out of it either. Plus they also knew that if “extra” events popped up that I would pony up money above and beyond what she already got. Talk about overcompensation. I know that I am still very much guilty of this habit to this day but this one is actually a real tough one to break.
I made sure that I never behaved in the same manner than some of the other junky moms. None of my kid’s toys would ever find themselves in some pawn shop – in fact, none of our household items – nor would she have to be content with thrift store clothing or never having money for even the cheapest school outing or having to wear some cheap hand me down graduation dress. No, nothing like this would or does occur.
I'll stop this entry here as its quite long, and I'd honestly be rather shocked if anyone has even managed to get this far!!! Cheers.