Sunday, January 3, 2010

Funniest Mom... from my book Everything I Never Wanted To Be

I was doing the Funniest Mom in America at the Laugh Factory in LA. So they announce my name. I get this burst of energy and run up on the stage like I normally do. I grab the mike, and… nothing. I stand there, staring at the audience and the audience is staring back. You could hear a pin drop. The longer I stare, the longer they stare. Finally, some young girl in the front row screams, “Booo! Get her off!” I’ve been doing this for eighteen years! What the hell is going on! Nothing! I said nothing! I see my daughter Jennifer in the back of the room half standing like she may jump on the horrible screaming woman.
It seemed like seven hours later, a joke came out of my mouth and I got rolling a little bit, but the damage was done. I was officially not the Funniest Mom in America.
My daughter Carly has been in and out of drug treatment facilities since she was thirteen. Every time she goes away somewhere I have a routine. I go through her room and search for anything drug related or search for drugs that she may have left behind. We have a laugh these days because Carly says, “So. You’re looking for drugs I’ve left behind? I’m a drug addict, mother. We don’t leave drugs behind, especially if we’re going into treatment. We do all the drugs. We don’t save drugs back for later. If I have drugs, I do them. All of them. If I had my way we would stop for more drugs on the way and I would do them in the parking lot of the treatment center.”
I’m fumbling around going through her things piece be piece. I look in books, shoes, jacket pockets, DVD cases, I look in holes in stuffed animals. I see a box in the top corner of her closet. I open the box and see piles of papers.
I shuffle through them and see cute little cards, letters from friends, funny little notes from her old life. ‘Dear Justin. Do you like me? I like you. If you don’t like me it’s okay. But I will not be your friend.’ Ribbons, stickers and glitter line the bottom of the box.
Then I find this. This list of what Carly feels about herself. I read and my heart begins to beat really fast. Towards the end of the list I have to blink to allow my tears to roll down my face because I can’t see.
The last few years I had thought it was a stage. Just something she was going through. It was a nightmare that I was going to wake up from and It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Now I sat there, still staring at these pieces of paper and for whatever reason I couldn’t move my eyes away. I sat still looking right through the page.
I was holding in my hand the truth. There are a million ways to get to the truth. The shittest way to find the truth is to stumble upon it accidentally while sparkly glitter falls all over your lap.

Carly simply could not stay clean. She would use meth to get off heroin and then use heroin to get off meth. Of the three times she was in intensive care one of those times was a suicide attempt. She came to me and told me she couldn’t live the rest of her life as a drug addict and she was going to kill herself. I didn‘t know that shortly before she told me this that she had already taken every different kind of drug she could get her hands on. Heroin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Fentanyl. Anything and everything. She had a variety of drugs in the house and had taken everything.
I have become so desensitized to drug use that I would feel so much better if I thought Carly was high all day and having the time of her life. The fact that her drug use made her so sad that she didn’t want to be alive anymore breaks me in half.
I get her to the emergency room, she tries to tell them what she has taken but she can hardly speak. They immediately admit her. They had a nurse sit by her bed twenty four hours a day in case she went into cardiac arrest. Three days into her stay she began having seizures. It was a horrible thing to watch. I asked when the seizures would stop and the doctor said they may stop, they may not. It depended on what level of damage she had done to her brain. She would be fine and then her head would fall all the way back as if her neck would break and her eyes would flicker. She couldn’t talk. This happened every half hour or so.
I slept in the hospital in a chair next to her bed. Late one night she woke up and I looked at her. She looked like a little girl. A pretty, pretty little girl. I could see her face and striking green eyes in the dark room from the light coming from the lap top the nurse sitting next to her bed was using.
She was slurring but told me, “I wish I was like other girls. The girls that go to the mall. Or to the movies. They’re all bright shiny stars. And I’m like this. I don‘t have a best friend. I don‘t have any friends.” She rolled over with her back facing me and began to fall asleep and mumbled, “They’re all bright shiny stars.” I could feel my heart break into a billion pieces.


Mike O'Mary said...

“So. You’re looking for drugs I’ve left behind? I’m a drug addict, mother. We don’t leave drugs behind, especially if we’re going into treatment. We do all the drugs. We don’t save drugs back for later. If I have drugs, I do them. All of them.” That's a great quote, Dina. Good excerpt. (BTW, I was in a relationship with an alcoholic for ~3 years. Bad enough that it was my partner who was an addict. I can't imagine what it would be like for it to be my child. I feel for you.)

Jeanette said...

Wow-- sorry to hear of the addiction nightmare. She sounds like an insightful beautiful person.
Sometimes the most talented, the most creative end up with addiction.
I've seen it many times before.
love that "bright shiny star"--(your book title too-I think). I think you both shine.