My mother has been an intravenous drug user for over 30 years and as long as I can remember. Her journey started with heroin. She switched to crack when she started the methadone program. I don't like to think about some of the things she may have done or experienced all in an effort to get 'high'. Because of her drug addiction, it is extremely tough to engage with her on a day-to-day basis. For those whom have never experienced having a parent addicted to drugs, consider yourself lucky. Allow me to provide more context and examples of behavior my mother engages in.
I feel somewhat obligated to care for my mother in certain ways. Though I rarely speak to her, I try to: 1) take her toiletries and clothing at least every season, 2) take her groceries, and 3) take my brother to see her (my mother doesn't drive, he’s disabled and lives in an assisted living that’s pretty far). The only thing I refuse to do is give her money. I don’t want my money to pay for an overdose. In return, my mother calls the police and makes up fake stories. The police arrive at my home at least twice per month. I know most of them personally. She’s told them stories such as my husband abusing me and my son and locking us in the basement. She’s told them that we had an intruder in the house holding us hostage. She’s told them my house was on fire. She’s gotten arrested for making false claims to the police and it still has not stopped her. Why you ask? I do not know. If I had to guess, I'd say her drug use probably exacerbates her mental illness.
Despite all the craziness, I haven’t been able to disown her. She’s my mother and I’m trying really hard to stick beside her.
Recently, I stopped by her house to drop off some items. We typically don’t interact outside of a casual hello and a picture. I always make her take a picture because one day she’ll look back on them and be proud of how far she’s come. This day, she was overly emotional. She kept saying she was tired and she wanted to get help. She repeated that she was serious because we’ve been down this road before. Previously, she voluntarily left the rehab each time. You never know the one moment that will change her life. As such, any time she says she wants to get clean, I show up.
I stopped my day. I left my mother’s house and went to pick up my great aunt Becky (she’s like my momma). While at my aunt Becky’s house, I made several calls to rehabs. After about twenty calls, I was starting to become hopeless. My mother was on an extremely high dose of methadone and she also smokes crack. Most facilities wanted her to taper her dosage before admitting her. I told my aunt Becky that we could just get in the car and go pick up my mother. I simply prayed things would work out along the way. I got a return call from a message I had left and the woman on the other end told me to show up at a local program. After picking up my mother, we went straight there. Before my mother got out of the car, we all prayed together and shed some tears. We started to begin the check-in process only to learn that the program only offered outpatient services. My mother started acting up and saying that she didn’t want to keep coming back everyday. She wanted an inpatient program.
I walked back to the car defeated. My mother said, “It’s okay. Just take me back home.” I ignored her because I’m no quitter. We were about three hours in at this point. I made one final call to my friend who is chief of staff for a delegate. She made a few calls and after about thirty minutes she connected me to a gentleman who used to be a delegate, Dr. Ali. Dr. Ali recently started his own rehab center and told me to bring my mother there immediately.
I was so relieved. I felt my heart shift.
Dr. Ali gave me a tour of the place. It was beautiful. A house full of black women trying to do better. I can dig it. During the tour, he asked the chef to put aside dinner for my mother. I felt safe. I felt she was in good hands. We walked to the nurses station where I had to answer questions, provide ID/insurance and all those logistics. My mother was crying during the entire process and couldn't answer many questions.
Nurse Michele was so accommodating as my mother went into panic mode. "How can I get cigarettes and I don't have clothes." "What about getting to the methadone clinic?" Nurse Michele told her she had everything under control. I told the staff I'd be back in an hour. Aunt Becky and I drove to Ross and grabbed cute PJ's, undies, bras and a few outfits. On the way back to the facility, I grabbed her two pack of cigarettes. Side bar- I could not believe two packs cost $20-YIKES!
I dropped off the items. And we said our goodbyes. I then drove grandma Becky to her house. Aunt Becky understood what this day had meant and held me tightly as we said goodbyeI. I looked forward to my hour long solo ride back home. I love to put the top down on my Jeep and just process my thoughts while smelling the air. As I drove home, I felt happy on the inside. I felt lite. I felt hopeful. I was finally able to breathe. I had the best sleep that night. Slumber. Peace.
10am the next morning, Dr. Ali tells me my mother voluntarily left. Two days later, the police were knocking on my door responding to a hostage situation *rolls eyes*
I was angry. I was hurt. I was TIRED! My entire being and my soul was exhausted! I was guilt-ridden. Asking myself why I'd gotten my hopes up. After feeling all those feelings within a 30 minute window, I was then overcome by deep compassion. For if only she knew that life ain't so bad...if only she knew she could do it...if only she knew prayer works. I pray she gives all her struggles and burdens to Jehovah God. If only...
Later in the week, a friend said to me, "I don't see how you do it. You keep showing up just to get hurt. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Stop helping her."
"I can't. I love her. I will never not show up when she says she wants to turn her life around."
"You're a glutton for pain. You got to get to a point where you treat people the way they treat you," my friend responded.
"That's my mother!"
I spent my entire life being embarrassed by her or pretending she was dead. I didn't know how to process the feelings. As I matured, I learned that anger is fears bitchy little sister. Anger is fear in disguise. I was always fearful of opening my heart because she lives at the core. I'm no longer fearful of loving my mother. I accept her as she is. And I will show up every single time she tells me she wants help. You never know how one second could change her life! And I'd love to play any role I can in helping her to make that happen.
That's my mother and Imma stick beside her....😜