Monday, October 31, 2011

It's No Good

So now we're well into the fall. My Employment Insurance has been approved with no waiting period - so to speak - as I am on a Temporary Lay-Off which means that I've only lost my job for the time being and will be called back once the company can afford me. Pretty straightforward EI claim as they've got none of the normal verifying of the reason why an individual is applying. In Ontario, this means that if you are implicated and found even partially responsible for your job loss, EI can deny your application. This also prevents people from quitting their job just 'cause and then apply for EI. Both of these situations automatically disqualifies the individual. At that time, 2005, I was entitled to 60% of my salary but as next to no taxes or deductions were subtracted, it was almost the same amount as my normal salary with all of the required taxes etc were calculated. In my near addled junky mind, all I could think was "Sweet!" Business as usual.

And it was for the first couple of months...sweet, that is, but like anything else, this didn't last. One of my friends ended up becoming our dealer after we ended up having a falling out with our original one. My friend was, and as far as I know, still prescribed massive amounts of narcotic analgesics.  On the first Wednesday of each month he receives/ed 720 8mg brand name dilaudids prescribed by his family doctor.  I had filled this prescription many times in the past for him, and as he was/is not on any sort of drug plan, it cost him about $320CAD every month.

He received these due to some injuries he had sustained during a work accident. As far as I know, him and two other workers somehow ended up being literally buried alive for a large part of one of their work days. When they rescued them all, he had broken both of his legs, some ribs, his right hand and one of the fingers on his left hand. I know that he also sustained some nerve damage in one of his hands. As far as I remember, he ended up being in hospital close to six months. Anyway, initially he never actually used any of his pain meds as he quickly learned that they were much more valuable to him if he sold them outright. Before greed overshadowed everything, he sold his pills at 10 for $100,  though this didn't last very long, or 2 for $25 or $15 each. Do the math. He made a shocking amount of money from this endeavor and as he didn't even use the pills at that time himself, it was all gravy.

Kind of ironic, but as long as there were pills easily and readily available, life continued on, and with it, the feeling one didn't have so much as a care in the world. Not surprisingly, this illusion could disappear in an instant and with no warning. The first time you woke up only to discover that the well had gone dry wasn't so bad. You hadn't yet trained your junky mind and body to go into automatic and painful withdrawal at this mere suggestion. Not yet, but very soon. By the end of this first day without the ready availability of pills, you actually managed to finally hookup. The moment you fixed, you felt returned to normal. Two weeks later when the same situation presents itself, your mind and body are less forgiving and understanding. Start to feel anxious and nervous the longer the day stretches with no sight of relief. Well into the evening, you impatiently wait but you're really incapable of doing anything much else as the waiting taxes every fiber in your body, and now it had started to become more and more frequent and difficult to find opiates on a daily basis.

After a short time, our bodies started to go into withdrawal when no opiates could be located, and this wasn't pleasant. This had started to bother me as obviously having to endure ever increasing periods of withdrawal was by no stretch enjoyable and I started thinking more and more frequently that there had to be something more than this. Also, our main connect had started to lose track of the picture, and had begun treating us with disrespect, and had begun to take us for granted. For the most part, Jim and I tried to buy these pills in bulk. There rarely were no more than maybe a half a dozen smaller purchases throughout the month. Now, one would thing that if one of his customers was buying 260 units monthly that perhaps he would be able to cut them a bit of a break, but sadly no. He charged us groups of ten - sometimes on the very rare occasion groups of twelve - which translated into 26 groups of ten units each, charged at $100 per group, which adds up to $2600 each and every month!

When I say that we were regulars, I truly mean that we were indeed that. I am in no way attempting to inflate our use, and in fact, am extremely ashamed and embarrassed even sharing this info, as it paints a pretty distasteful picture of what we allowed our addiction to become before we were finally able to put the breaks on it. Now for just over 24 months dealing with him, we never deviated far from this number. We almost always paid in advance, and always paid cash - no bartering or asking for them up front, etc. If we did have to request a front, it was rarely for more than a few days. Now, I get why he didn't want to cut us too sweet a deal as he had begun to rely on our money each and every month. Who wouldn't want to receive this amount, especially considering there was no work needed at all whatsoever in getting it? No hustling, no nickel and dime sales, less traffic coming and going to his house because he didn't need a dozen or so more customers minimum to replace the two of us.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Barrel of a Gun

The summer that my Mom and I ended up having our falling out certainly turned out to be a quite a bit more than a mere convenience for me as it turned out. While there had never been any question that we both had been heading down this path ever since my Dad passed away, I most definitely made the most of the opportunity when it presented itself to me and did nothing much to prevent its derailment. Even though we'd been at odds in the past over issues more serious than the one that I finally used as my excuse to sever our current relationship, by this point it didn't matter. Definitely the proverbial straw for me, as there were a number of very legitimate reasons why we could not, nor should not, continue on with our current relationship as it stood.  

At the same time, I knew that I was also motivated by the fact that there would now be one less potential distraction interfering with my current usage. By this time, I was having a difficult time balancing my active addiction with my work and social responsibilities, my family obligations, as well as dealing with the general day to day mundane stuff one tends to encounter as we drift through our lives . So with that stress gone for the time being, I was able to refocus more of my energies on what was becoming increasingly more and more important, and I don't mean work.

Ironically, about a month or so after my blowup with my Mom, I ended up receiving a temporary layoff  notice from my employer stating that I would be required, immediately, to take a leave from work of between 12 and up to a maximum of 16 weeks. At that time, I had been working for my employer, a software company, for a number of years. By the time I received this notice, our office had been reduced to a staff of just over twenty from a high of near a hundred and fifty employees less than a year prior. Even though I knew I was still a valued employee, I also recognized the financial duress the company was currently experiencing.

Plus, talk about timing. Bloody pathetic on my part, but reality none the less. One less distraction yet again. The writing was so on my wall and yet...


Monday, October 24, 2011

Altered States

I've gone through and reviewed all of my links as I had noticed that some were no longer active, as well as discovering a number of new ones. As well as the links that appear regularly as part of my site, I've included this separate post as a means of highlighting the category Altered States | Parents of Addicts as I feel that it is not only an extremely important category, but one that seems to be constantly growing which should be a grave concern for all. If there are other blogs out there that I'm not yet aware of, I would love to be notified so that I can add them to the list.

peace, love and happiness...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


It would be a full two and a bit years after my Dad's death before my Mom and I would actually have our falling out. Our relationship just seemed to get progressively worse over time. My Mother had always been a bit harsh although often I barely noticed as I had gotten used to her treatment over the years. Usually, it was only after someone else took the time to comment to me about it that I would give any serious thought to what I should do, at least that had been the pattern in the past. Once my Dad passed, I seemed to have become more sensitive to any of her criticisms, and increasingly found it near impossible to stand.

My Mother always seemed to have something to say about my looks, my hair, my clothes, my job, my hobbies, you name it and she could find fault. I never really knew why either, nor could I understand why she always seemed so dissatisfied with me. Growing up I had been a straight A student and had received numerous scholarship offers to university upon graduation from high school. I was never in trouble and even maintained a part time job all through high school so that I could support myself financially. In fact, I was able to buy my first car in cash just after my seventeenth birthday and paid for my entire trip to the British Isles the summer I turned 21.

For the near six months that I drove my Dad to the hospital five days a week, she reminded me each and every day at least three times not to be late, and not in an absent minded sort of way. She was very insistent and quite mean about it too, even though I did not once show up late to pick them up for the hospital. And so on...

Now I can't put all of the blame on my Mom's shoulders for our falling out as I was dealing with some serious issues of my own the summer of 2005. I was easily at the height of my addiction, and I was finding it increasingly difficult trying to conceal it from everyone. No one at home nor work or anywhere knew what I was hiding and this secret was starting to weigh me down. With each passing day, I found it harder and harder to keep all my balls in the air.

By this time, we were spending on average well over $2000/month attempting to support our habit, and by then, this was barely covering its maintenance. Obviously our personal finances were starting to suffer because of the amount we were spending. No amount of additional hours at work seemed to prevent our bills from starting to pile up. My nerves were wearing thin and I was starting to become careless at work. I knew a meltdown was imminent and felt at a loss at being able to prevent it. 

I needed to share my burden with someone and I thought at the time, that my Mother might be the one, but once I had, I quickly realized how desperately wrong I was. Initially, she seemed so very empathetic but this lasted barely 48 hours and then all hell broke loose. It had taken so much to confide everything and she had promised that this would remain between the two of us, but it didn't. Almost instantly she was on the phone to her sister telling her what an awful daughter she had and who knows what else. She actually told me all this the next time we talked. I was shattered. When I asked her why she did exactly what I had asked and she had promised she wouldn't do, she really had no defense.

I remember mumbling something to her during that call that I couldn't do this anymore with her, that I needed to get well and the longer she was around to poison everything, the longer it would end up taking me to get healthy again. I quietly hung up the phone and from that moment on had no communication with her for eighteen months. I didn't look back and in many ways, these eighteen months ended up being some of the happiest and relaxing ones of recent memory. Even though this fracture looked as if it was irreconcilable, in the end, it turned out to be the complete opposite, but another year and a half was to pass before I was able to find out.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mommy Dearest

Over the years, my Mother and I have had, at best, a somewhat strained relationship, although for the past few years, we somehow were both able to put this to rest and have enjoyed what has very much felt like a normal and healthy one. To say this has been like a breath of fresh air does not even begin to do it any sort of justice. As this was something I had dreamt my entire adult life of having, I was careful to ensure I did nothing to jeopardize it, although I wouldn't have just accepted it without question had I felt that there might be possible negative consequences. In fact, in order to reach the previously unattainable, I had had to completely severe absolutely all ties with my Mom for near two years. Drastic action begets dramatic results it would seem.

Growing up, there was just Dad, Mom, my slightly younger brother and myself. When I was five, my parents decided it was time to leave the land of our birth, Ireland, to try our luck in another country halfway around the world, Canada. While I have some very vivid memories of this time, I certainly was far too young to fully comprehend the drastic, not to mention dramatic, changes occurring within our little family. Immigrating to a new country is daunting enough when one is young, single with their whole life ahead of them, I can't even begin to imagine the stress involved for a couple just a few years away from forty with two small children in tow! Not only this, but they had to do it completely on their own as no one else from either one of their families had done this, nor would anyone ever do it. 

What this meant was that neither my brother or myself had the luxury of being part of an extended family while we grew up. Although we had a total of nineteen cousins, we rarely ever saw any of them as an ocean separated us and still does. While we were fortunate enough to spend many a summer vacation visiting and getting to know them all, it was never quite the same as if we had been able to share our daily life on a regular basis with them. On occasion, I sometimes found myself filled with envy if one of my friends had the opportunity of being able to get particularly close to one of their cousins simply because they could - location...location...location.

Yet, in reality, as I grew up, this was really nothing more than a minor handicap because all in all, I was darn fortunate enough to have a pretty idyllic childhood. My folks were amazing enough and neither myself nor my brother were ever victims of any sort of abusive treatment. We were treated more than fairly, and certainly didn't lack for much of anything growing up. I seemed to naturally gravitate towards my Dad, while my brother seemed to be my Mom's favorite. I most definitely was my Daddy's Little Girl, and I surely managed to stay this way until he passed away in 2003. We shared similar interests and I always found it much easier to confide in him than I had ever found in my Mother.

While she doted on my brother who could do no wrong in her eyes, I struggled to simply get along with her at times. She could be overly harsh and critical of me if allowed, but as long as my Father was alive, it rarely happened. From time to time over the years, I'd find myself worrying what would end up happening to our relationship once my Father was no longer around to temper our behavior and treatment of the other. 

Then in 2002, my father was diagnosed with cancer. After his first month of radiation and chemo, he found himself getting weaker and felt that he could no longer drive himself safely back and forth to the hospital. As my Mother had never learned to drive, he asked me if I would drive him back and forth to his hospital appointments. Of course I agreed without hesitation but this also meant that I would be responsible with having to take him five days a week, every week for approx five to six months. 

Although this obviously greatly impacted my life as well as my own immediate family’s, I didn't mind doing it in the least and would gladly have done it again without hesitation. As some days I was required at the hospital for near eight hours, plus had to be there Monday through Friday, I quickly found it was impossible for me to continue to work full time while I did this. Luckily, I had an amazingly empathetic boss and was able to take a six month leave of absence without pay remarkably easily. Tragically, she found herself in a near identical situation with her own father a mere two months after me so...

I began driving my Father on a regular basis about the second week of July and continued to do this every day until just before Christmas of the same year.  My father managed to finish all of his radiation and chemo treatments a scant six days before Christmas Eve. Christmas that year was nice, although we already knew that my father had ended up not responding well to either one of his treatments and wasn't going to be really getting any better. 

This was confirmed before the third week of January had even started. In the interim from Christmas til this time, I had returned to work and was trying my best to settle back into some sort of routine. I was barely back at work, when my father was admitted to the hospital for what ultimately turned out to be the rest of his life. From the moment he went in, I made sure that I visited each and every day though it became increasingly harder to see him suffering so much as it got closer and closer to the end.

For the first time since I had been told that he had cancer back the previous June, I started to really feel stressed and overwhelmed. I often found it quite challenging trying to juggle a successful return to work while meeting my own immediate family’s needs - Sara was only twelve when all of this started and had yet to lose anyone close to her from death so...

At the same time, I found I was at the beck and call of my mother without the benefit of any safety net. As I knew that this was incredibly hard on her, I tried not to take some of her many and frequent outbursts personally . I got it. She felt powerless to help her life partner, a man that had looked after her now since 1956 and visa versa. All faults aside, they really were a truly magnificent couple who loved each other deeply until the very end.

OK, this entry now seems to have taken on a life of its own, so in the interest of looking towards a bit of a conclusion on the way to wrapping this all up, I'm not going to bore you with all of the specifics of what ultimately caused my Mother and I to have this serious falling out. Instead, the following anecdote should illustrate quite nicely what I was more of less up against.

By the time my father finally passed away the second week of March, I was pretty much overwhelmed with so many different emotions, never mind feeling so very, very tired. Through the last week of his life, I had spent every night at the hospital sleeping beside my father in a bed that his nurses had put together for me. The following day the only thing that I wanted to be excused from was having to take my mother to the funeral home to finalize our earlier arrangements. I was so very shattered that I just didn't have it in me to do this. As Jim and I had taken Mom there prior to Dad's passing, I figured now that it could be my brother's turn, especially as he had only visited him twice the whole time he was in hospital.

At the time, I really didn't give this request much thought at all, but it soon became quite apparent that perhaps I should have. My Mom was a little bit demanding of my time the first few months after Dad died. After working hard all week, I rarely had a chance to slow down once the weekend arrived as I was required to chauffeur my Mom around so she could get whatever errands she needed to get done. It seemed as if every place that I happened to take my mother, whenever she was offered condolences, she just had to stop so she could also share a particular story with everyone. 

All puffed up and proud, she told everyone who would listen what an absolute rock my brother had been to her, and how she wouldn't have known what to do had he not been there to look after everything the day after my Father’s passing. Canonization for sainthood must surely be around the next corner. Not one mention of what I had done for five months, nor even the last three months that he spent in the hospital. Nothing at all, nary a word, and, to make matters worse, she did all of this right in front of me, and not just on one occasion, but multiple times. I started cracking up in short order let me tell you.   

This was barely the tip of the iceberg and now that my Father was no longer around to temper my Mother's actions and treatment of me, I found our situation intolerable not to mention untenable. The longer it continued, the more I felt poisoned and shattered, and increasingly more and more depressed. Ultimately, for my own self preservation, I ended up having to sever all ties with my Mother. It turned out to be easier than I had ever imagined, and in the end I managed to avoid my mother and her abuse for nearly eighteen months.