Saturday, April 25, 2009

Doors of Communication

Dear Reader's,

As of late, I've found myself visiting the blogs of people, I don't really know on the sidebars of some regulars I read. A lot of these blogs are about being the parent of a drug addict. So very sad.

And it occurred to me that God has blessed me with really being the only F***-Up in the family. What I mean by this is that while my daughter struggles with an addiction to Soma, my three sons really do not practice, note that word, "Practice" current and/or hard core drug use.

There's no pat on the back for this because they watched as I shot up Heroin, drank whiskey shots like a seasoned Sailor and basically lived a life of every day crime.

Yea, I used to kid, "A Crime a day, keeps the Doctor away," meaning I wouldn't be dope sick
if I committed some crime, scam, scheme, whatever it took to get my bundle of Heroin. And you can bet your ass, before I started doing heroin and was taking massive quantities of pills/opiates, I stole or wrote/forged Prescriptions for years to facilitate my habits as well as my husbands. I'm certainly not proud of this and as I write it, I could just puke.

If I'd tell you some of the rotten awful things I did, you'd probably say, "OMG Babz, you did not?" But I did and the past person I was, is a different person. I even changed my name from Barbara to Babz cause I'm not "her/Barb" anymore.

It saddens me though when I read some of the pain this Drug War has caused. And that's exactly what it is, an all out War on and against, especially the juvenescence of today. This shit is taking your children hostage and promises to kill, harm or maim them for life. And of course, your life will never be the same.

First let me say that I don't claim to know it all, hell I'm just recently beginning to realize this and am hell bent for leather to learn all sorts of sordid details. Not really, actually I want to know and learn, sew and say all the best I can in the time allotted me, left on this earth. I have a whole butt load of Karma, the good one, I need to replenish and give back. And I know Mz. Karma Bitchslap™ on a first name basis. I met her in Prison...

As I stood on that bridge, (another story in itself), ready to jump into the icy waters below. Here I was out, in the middle of a blizzard, no one on the roads, on the hunt for dope. I scored one bag but couldn't do it because I had to walk home first and share that one bag with my SOB husband who divided it, giving him the bigger portion. It was barely enough to even get myself right much less the two of us.

Dope sick, barely able to stand, I threw my leg over the bridge railing. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw headlights. This storm was so bad even the natives were nestled in, all except for me and this one man in his car.
I remember being pissed, thinking, "WTF???," as I put my leg back down. He slowed down, just as he came upon me. His passenger side window was down, the street lamp illuminating his face.

Now, I don't know if you believe in Angels or not but I sure do...NOW! This old white haired man, scraggly and I even think he was missing some teeth, smiled so warmly, the smile actually embraced me. I can't explain it. I fell on my knees in the snow. There was a "Silent Scream" only heaven could hear. My tears almost froze to my face as I begged God for forgiveness. I also begged Him to help me, "Please God, I can't do this anymore, please help me?"

I didn't even say what it was that I needed help with but He knew. I'd tried to get help at the Hospital and for one, they told me I wasn't sick enough to be admitted to the Hospital. Secondly, they said that both my husband and myself could not be admitted at the same time to the same Rehab. The intake evaluator guy was a real dick and offered no solution.

Neither one of us would dare leave the other out to fend for ourselves, especially considering I was my husbands meal ticket, I did all the dirty work which, to this day he readily admits. But they had shot us down anyway, as I said stating that we weren't sick enough. I remember thinking how much I hated that guy just about the same time as I fell off the curb, cracking my head open on the bumper of a taxi cab (which I couldn't even afford to take at the time and had to walk) because I was so weak I could hardly stand.

The Gift???

Well, it wasn't all shiny or wrapped up in a big Pink or Red Bow. And it sure as hell wasn't pretty. But God gave me a wonderful gift...He threw me, lock, stock and barrel, right into jail and then onto to my 2 1/2 to 5 year State Prison venture. It took some time for me to realize "The Gift." It took a hot minute before I wasn't so pissed off that I could spit nails. It took even longer for me to come to a realization that God had saved my life by throwing my sorry butt into Prison.

Bitter or Blessed???

Yes, good ol'
Mz. Karma Bitchslap™ gave me time to think and think and think. I'd been sentenced up to 5 years of my life for something I didn't do, I just couldn't prove it from where I was sitting. That's a whole other story in itself but suffice it to say, I WAS GUILTY just not for the exact crime listed on the Indictment!

I'd done so many awful, God forsaken things, I deserved to be exactly where I was, I actually deserved Life. But how does one garner wisdom amongst the best criminals, insanest, meanest, nastiest people this world has to offer? You study them and yourself, which is exactly what I did. I turned the whole experience around, flipped the script and did everything I could to learn from it.

I took special notes concerning the fact that most of the inmates were there because of drugs, drinking, drug sales. I studied them, their behavior and I listened intently to what they had to say. As well, I was given the opportunity to go into a six month In-House Rehab Program called New Beginnings, while I was incarcerated. You are pretty much sequestered during this extremely strict program. I worked that bitch like my life depended on it, (which it actually did)all the while going through intense Interferon Treatment for Hep C.

So by going to prison, I broke the chain of heroin abuse, I broke the chain of domestic abuse that I'd endured for more than a decade and I think I broke the chain of events that led up to and facilitated a lot of my killing my self slowly behaviors. I even think I may have learned to like myself again. And it was all a Blessing, big time.

Again, it took a while to understand the mechanics of it all but I realize that most people that go in to prison come out one of two ways; Bitter or Blessed. Unfortunately, the majority come out real angry for having their lives disrupted and they're surely not remorseful. In fact most are mad because they were caught.

For me, it was a time to stop and reflect, to learn and gain knowledge about myself as well as others; what makes them tick, what causes them to behave as they do and why do they continue in the same vein of unhappy addictions and addictive behaviors. These are all seen, in my eyes, as gifts.

I was also given a gift in the capacity to remember everything about how I felt and why I did things, especially concerning my teen years. I recall, collectively, what spurred me on to drugs-n-drinking. I now have the resounding collection of "Do Not's" squarely fixed in my mind. If I was told;

Do Not Do Drugs
Do Not Drink
Do Not Have Sex
Do Not Share A Needle
Do Not Drink-n-Drive
Do Not Play With Guns
Do Not Go W/O Your Seat Belt...

I did it...and got addicted, got pregnant, got Hep C and on and frigin' on.

Yes, it's a gift that I can remember all this and have not burned out all my brain cells. I was in a really bad car accident(I was hit by two cars, drag racing, one head-on) when I was just 18. I had massive head trauma from going through the windshield. I was hurt badly enough they were going to put me in a Nursing Home. Besides the injuries that were visible, I had a terrible problem with short term memory loss.

My long term memory was not affected and I can even remember playing in my crib, climbing out and finding a bottle under my crib that was sour. I can also remember going for long walks with my Mom, in the stroller. To tide me over, my Mom would put chocolaty "*Metracal" in my bottle. It was a popular a diet drink back in the early sixties. The thing is, my Mom, who proudly exclaimed she followed the orders of "Dr. Spock" had me off the bottle by 18 months old. This means that I have memories of and before I was 18 months old.

The point is that, painful as it might be, I remember how I felt about things, especially as a teen. I mean, I can remember how hurt I was by the comments of boys like when they called me "Boobie Barbara" in 6th grade. As well I distinctly remember how I felt that I could not go to my Mom and Dad to talk about my personal problems and complexes, notable to a teen with such low self-esteem as I had. I felt fat and ugly, fueled by comments innocently spewed(I hope?) by my own Mother.

I was certainly not able to talk about sex and such. They were either too busy chasing the American Dream or had too many hang-ups themselves about personal issues. My own Mom was mean, hateful and beat the livin' shit out of me on a daily basis. It's no wonder I sought love in all the wrong places. They were "Unapproachable."

The best advice I could give to any parent is to be aware of the doors of communication. Are they closed? That's when you seem unapproachable or maybe you're too busy with work and your children don't feel they can come and talk to you about anything and everything. This is the exact spot, the very pinpoint to the beginning of the end.

See, when your kid can't come to you and ask you anything or talk to you about what's going on in their lives, the good, the bad and the ugly or you down play their emotions and you can bet your ass they have them, that's when the problems begin. Now they're going to go to their friends for advice and that sense of family. That's when your daughter is going to seek counsel, love, whatever from some older guy.

You have to realize that their emotions run the gambit from desires to be older to emotional immaturity as in holding onto childhood behaviors. One day they'll seem and believe that they're all grown up while the next they'll do something very childish and immature. But the thing you have to remember is that this is their emotions and they are really real.

You can not leave it up to the school system to raise your child. As well, you can not leave it up to the school system to teach your child about sex and drugs either. While D.A.R.E. is a good program, parents, you've still got to sit down with your kids and *talk to them about drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure, cyber bullying, internet predators and unfortunately you've got to let them in on the very worst secret of all; That it is not all lollipops and cotton candy out there. There are people in this world that can and will harm them.

Do You Know Them???

Note the word "Talk." Now, when you speak to your child, of course, you want to command respect. If you want a rapport with your children though you've got to be mindful of these doors of communication and are they open, always open, 24/7? And do you speak down to them? Speak over them? Speak above them?

The big question of the day is this; Do you really, really know your child? Does your child have a secret side for fear of chastisement, punishment or retribution? Do they have that secret side because you might not understand?

I don't claim to be the sharpest peanut in the turd but I will say, if nothing else, I am observant. I see parents all the time, especially Mothers who treat their teens as equals, as a friend and are almost fearful of disciplining their child, expressly their adolescent children
. These are quite often the Moms who want to be the "Cool Mom" on the block. They tend to look the other way rather than deal with the ginormous monstrosity that is their child.

I know all this because I was that Mom who wanted to be the "Cool Mom." And because of my own addictive behaviors and thinking, I allowed my own kids to get high, in the bathroom, in my own home. I also taught my children all the finer things in life where it concerns being a good criminal.When they busted me, it was front page news and the headline read, something like, "Busted; Ma Barker & Her Boys." I was shackled to my youngest son, for God's sake. Does it get any badder than that?

"Let Go & Let God"

For those parents that have kids already down that road, going down Addiction Alley, I pray that you will find calm assurance and realize the power of prayer. I'll pray that you see that you'll have to allow them to fall before they can ever climb up. This is one of the absolute hardest things a Mom can go through because we can't stand for our children to hurt. But the thing is, they've got to feel the burn, they've got to know that no one, short of God is going to save them. They've got to feel the repercussions of their actions or they'll continue to carry on, every day, in the same way. You've got to stay in prayer and allow them to hit their own personal bottom, now, before it's too late.

Open 24/7

If you are a parent of a pre-teen or teenager, I hope you will see the relevance of and awareness of those doors of communication, that I mentioned before. And I want you to take a long hard look at what is really important in this life; Is it that American Dream you keep chasing? You know the one where you think that both of you need to work over time to keep that second SUV in the garage, have a t.v. in every room, give your kid the best of the best, a cell phone, computer and on and on. But check this out: You work over time to get all this crap that you must ask yourself, "Do I really need all this to define happiness?"

Yes, you have to work over time and then you feel guilty for it so you think you'll compensate your kid by buying them all the things you didn't have growing up. But for real, what they need is YOU, not all this BS you work so hard to get.

The pitch line here is this; Parents, your children need you. Are you really there for them? Do you really know your child?

Hypethetically Speaking;

Did you know that a 23 year old guy is talking to your daughter, online and treats her all grown up and tells her how he desires her so badly?
(He wants to meet her and is trying to talk her into it. She's scared but wants to be desired by somebody, anybody. She believes she's ugly so she's just ecstatic because somebody has taken an interest in her.)

Did you know that your son has been driving around with his pals, getting drunk in order to fit in with the rest of the football team?
(I mean he just wants to be accepted but he's playing with death)

Did you know that the reason your daughter is so thin is because she's Anorexic?
(Yea, she was a bit chubby and the kids made fun of her, especially the boys)

Did you know that your child's failing grades are because she's caught up with a group of girls, "The Stoners?"
(She was doing fairly well but because of her low self-esteem she wanted to be accepted into the cliche of girls, you know the bad ones who'll steer her wrong. Those girls are not the prettiest or brightest so she feels safe amongst them because they really can't put her down. She'll start skipping school so she can hang out at that friends house who's Mom, a single mother, is always at work and they can party at her house and not get caught)

There are so many, "Do You Know's" you must ask yourself, about your child. And I could go on forever but suffice it to say, it's preventive medicine if you try to get to really know your child, reach out to them and let them know that they have permission to come to you about anything, especially before they do it.

Take A Look!

Your kids are less apt to seek out that sense of family, if they are still getting it at home. Take A Look! If you want them to learn about this life's ups and downs and why they should or shouldn't do something, you'd better assume the role of parent and teach them yourself.
Take A Look!

If you want them to understand that drugs-n-drinking just might take them down, you'd better teach them yourself. But it's not good enough to simply say, "Now, don't you do this or that." No, you've got to explain why and a 5 minute talk on the subject is not going to do. You've got to explain how they can get out of the situation if they are offered drugs or any illicit behavior.

Your best bet is to arm yourself with an understanding of addiction and addictive behaviors. I suggest you study all you can on the subject so you may be armed with an educated opinion on the subject.

Teaching them to "Just Say No to Drugs" is not enough. What I mean by this is while the school system teaches them some on the subject, they don't know your child, what makes them who they are and what might cause them to turn to drugs/drinking. That is a question you must ask yourself before it happens. That is pertinent to you and your child and something you must face together.

Don't make the stupid mistake of assuming that your child will never mess around with drugs and/or drinking. It's safer to say that they will be faced with it and just telling them to, again,
"Just Say No to Drugs" is not enough. You've got to delve into the subject, the meat of the whole shabang. And that entails letting them know, showing them what happens when you play with fire; you will get burned.

Your best stance, to take might be to let them know that getting high is an escape they may never be able to escape from. Tell them that if they do have an addictive personality and they do try drugs, it will ruin their lives. Notice that I didn't say "might ruin their lives." Drugs will most certainly place your kid on the road of self destruction. They've got to know why it's so dangerous to try; They may think they love it, need it and will then do anything to get it. That's the truth of the matter.

Speak to them now, before it's too late!

Keeping It Real,

Aunt B

*1950s through the '70s:

Metracal was the first weight-loss shake product, adapted from baby formula by Mead Johnson
Nutritionals. It was wildly successful. The company also marketed Metracal cookies. Metracal is now off
the market.
Source; Whatever Happened To...
History of Diets


Lou said...

OMG, I remember Metracal. It was the SlimFast of the 60's. I need to look it up and see exactly what was IN that stuff!

And congratulations to you for living life--the good and the despairing--these days without blunting your feelings.

Cat said...

Amazing post - Full of good advice and your story which is raw, honest and real. Thank you for sharing this - Thanks very much!

I found you via Lou.

Aunt B said...

Lou, I still have this fond memory of Metracal,especially the chocolate one, hell I'd drink it today if I could. I mean I can almost taste it like the good Southern cooking I was raised on, lol!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read and mention this post on your blog, as well.

While it's easy to take the girl off the streets, it ain't so easy to take the street off the girl. It is a struggle but as they say, "It works if you work it!" Thanks my friend!

Aunt B said...

Cat, Do you see why they call me long winded, haha? I thank you kindly for stopping by and reading this post. And I hope if you know anybody with those pre-teens I mentioned, you'll share this bit of preventive meds.

I appreciate you stopping by and I'll be sure to stop over your way. Put on a pot of coffee, will ya?