Wednesday, February 17, 2010

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

There is actually a reason I picked this song. When Carly was very small she would take me in to art stores and tell me about Vincent Van Gogh. I grew up in a trailer eating spam.... so I wondered.... who is this kid? She's my girl...

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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in a land, far, far away, Phoenix Arizona, there was a family...
Mom sat on the couch and drank beer while dad smoked marijuana and they raised three beautiful daughters. The two oldest girls grew to be teens and in an odd twist of fate, they began to drink beer and smoke marijuana. The little one didn't, because, she was little. So, mom had a Oprah light bulb moment and stopped drinking beer. Then dad had a light bulb thing that he claims has nothing to do with Oprah, and quit smoking marijuana. But the children were not interested in not drinking beer and smoking marijuana, so they continued until the little one began drinking beer and smoking marijuana. So as the mom and dad are having these light bulb moments, all the children are drinking beer and smoking marijuana. The older one was not satisfied with the beer or marijuana so she began to use crack and heroin because it's more bang for your buck. Then the older one got the light bulb, and she quit taking everything including aspirin. Then the little got bored very early on and she began using meth and heroin at the age of fifteen. The mom had quit, the dad had quit and the oldest had quit. But the little one and the middle one are still having the time of their life. Then, the little one quit. But the oldest one started back up. The middle one quit and then the little one started. The little one quit again and then the mom started. At this point, even the dog was on probation. Then the dad started, but then the mom and dad quit. The oldest stopped, then started, then stopped then started and eventually everyone in the house had a warrant and the shit was hitting the fan on a regular basis. The mom's old, sick mother came to live with them and the middle one has a son with Cerebral Palsy and the two of them watch as people quit and then don't quit. The family lied to the grandmother and told her that all the activity was just one of her hallucinations and she believed them.
This is a story about a family, in a land far, far away, Phoenix Arizona, that at some point the people have quit and not quit every substance known to man. And will they ever all quit at the same time? Everyday is different, isn't it? Stranger things have happened.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mother of the year... me.

I don't think a person can be all good or all bad. That also applies to parenting. Moms and dads can not be amazing parents every single day. There are people like me, who have made huge mistakes. Gigantic, horrible mistakes. When you have lived the way I have, or did, it's a very heavy weight to carry. The knowledge that if you had done better, your children, the people you love the most, would be emotionally better. Their lives would be better. They would be happier.
But I can't LIVE in that. The other side of the coin is, I've done some good things as a mom as well. There has been times that I have really 'wowed' the girls with my motherly skills.
What I'm trying to say is this. To quote Oprah, "When you know better, you do better." I hope my girls know better....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Enjoy The Veal

There is so many misconceptions about drug and alcohol addiction. I have heard since I was four that addicts use various chemicals to 'numb' the pain or take away their problems. There is nothing 'numbing' about getting high or drunk. It's actually quite the opposite.
Here's the scenario. You don't have a job. You don't have any money. Your wife has left you and taken your kids. You have a warrant because you couldn't afford to pay a traffic ticket and you can only find one of your shoes. You drink, or take a pain killer or smoke heroin and this is only possible because you have friends that will 'take care of you'.
Ten minutes later. I love the world. I can see my wife and my kids in my head and they are so beautiful. I don't have any money but it's okay because I'm not hungry anyway. I feel great. I am attractive, intelligent, I can lift heavy things and I can do math. Look how beautiful that highway over pass is. My shoe is awesome.
You aren't 'numbing' your feelings. Your feelings look completely manageable while you are high. Everything is not only okay, it's fantastic! You are suddenly alive with amazing, beautiful feelings and you are thrilled to be a part of the human race. It's extremely stimulating, not numbing.
Here's another idea that is completely wrong. Addicts are the people you see walking down the street mumbling obscenities. Actually, addicts are your wife. Your kid. Your brother. Most addicts can completely function in day to day life in such a way that not one single person would suspect they are high. And they can maintain this for a long period of time. Sometimes years.
When you go in to a restaurant, a pretty young girl shows you to your table. Then a perky waiter comes to your table filled with energy and explains the specials. Then there's the guy that fills your water and tea and the chef that is preparing your food. And finally, there is your date, that you are sitting across from, staring them right in the eye. There is a solid chance that at least half of these people are in some way altered. Yet, they hold a completely intelligent conversation, they are efficient while doing their job, and they all smell terrific. Does this mean that most people in across the country are drug addicts or alcoholics? No. But it does mean, if you change the chemicals in your brain too many days in a row, you are well on your way to walking down the street mumbling obscenities. Because NO ONE maintains forever.
Twelve step programs work. When an addict or alcoholic is struggling to stay clean, a twelve step program can be the connection to others that will help them stay on the path of sobriety. It could be the thing that saves their life. But if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs to a level that you need to be in a facility to get additional medical treatment or emotional help to begin to recover past detox, that is a whole different thing.
"All you need to do is ask for help." This is the biggest lie ever told as far as recovery and treatment and it continues to be told.
We live in the greatest country in the world. We are the 'elite'. But in regard to drug and alcohol treatment, we act like wealthy families that have a drug addict son that they are ashamed of so they put him 'away' somewhere so people don't find out that something has gone terribly wrong. Because he brings the family shame. So he's put somewhere where he can't humiliate the family and tarnish their reputation.
That has become the American way. 'These people', the drug addicts and alcoholics, we can't say there is a problem because we are America. Do something with these people. Put them in a room somewhere and lock the door and punish them so that we can continue to present ourselves as the 'elite'. We are the rich family that will do anything to avoid addressing the actual problem because it would cost money.
If you are fortunate enough to be a part of the 'elite' and you come from a family with a mound of cash, yes, you can get help. Every door in every treatment facility from LA to New York will be thrown open for you and they may have a parade in your honor because you 'asked for help'. But if you are poor, you can NOT get help. You will at some point go to prison or die because you are poor. When the commercials come on the television with photos of a beautiful treatment facility that is urging you to call them with that concerned supportive voice, if you are poor, they are not talking to you. They are talking to people who have a boat load of money and that is not you. You are not going to treatment at the facility on the ocean. You are not going to treatment at the facility in woods with horses and streams. There will be no parade. You are going to prison, or you are going to die. Twelve step programs work and if you really want to be clean, that is your absolute best bet. But don't think even for one second that a treatment facility is going to open the door to you. It will never happen. The playing field is not level and it never will be. Poor people are not valued in our society so if you die on the street of a drug overdose, eventually a city truck will come by and scrape you off the pavement as if the world never needed you in the first place.
So, for the people all over our country that ask themselves, 'Why don't they just get help'. That's why. Because there is no help. There is no help. I could write that forever and I don't think people would ever really believe me because they saw the commercial. The 'come and get help on the ocean' commercial? The only thing a poor drug addict is going to get on the ocean is more drugs. Enjoy the veal.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm a filthy, criminal, leper.

My husband had a heart attack almost a year ago. So he quit smoking and began to eat lettuce and sticks. I am completely supportive of this change because I want to keep my husband, so, okay. I, on the other hand, could not be more unhealthy. I smoke. Shut. Your. Filthy. Mouth. Was my husbands heart attack not enough to make me stop? Apparently not. My father died of cancer. Still, not enough to make me stop.
So my husband has completely changed his lifestyle. I have not. I start my day the exact same way each morning. One piece of toast and a half a cup of orange juice. The only function that the toast and OJ serve is to line my stomach for the impending carnage. Two cups of coffee, followed by two Excedrin, followed by a medium Red Bull, followed by, a twelve pack of Coke throughout the day. For lunch, a piece of cheese and two more Excedrin with a Coke. Dinner, three spoons of rice and a croissant with a Coke. At bedtime, a Snickers bar washed down with a Coke. Right before I go get in my bed, I stand in the backyard and smoke a cigarette like a filthy, criminal, leper. There you have it. The day is done and I feel great.

So John gets approval from the heart doctor to workout so he joined a gym. He has a trainer. A person he gave money to in exchange for torture. Hey, give me the money. I've been torturing you for years for free.
So I'm standing outside, where I spend a better part of my day, smoking and eating a Snickers bar. I take a bite of my chocolate treat, a drink of Coke, a drag from my cigarette. John walks out in his 'workout clothes', eating a carrot. I am wearing 15 year old jeans and a Corona t-shirt. I look like a crack whore after a big weekend. He says, "Hey! On Valentines Day my trainer is having a bring your sweetie workout class! What do you think?! Great, right?" I look at him and take a drag of my cigarette and then I look behind me hoping he is talking to someone else. Not that I'm not going to be his 'sweetie' on Valentines Day, but are you really asking me to go to the gym? On Valentines Day? You know where else they're having a bring your sweetie party? Macy's.

How do you tell your husband that you don't want to go to the gym because they don't allow you to smoke in there? How do you say, for me it's smooth sailing physically? Now if the mental health community threw a bring your sweetie party, I would sign up. I've got to get out of this. He says if I loved him I would go to the gym for the lover class. I said, if you loved me, you wouldn't make me prove I love you by going to the lover class.

I miss the good old days. My youngest daughter has her birthday on Valentines Day. So somewhere in the day, I would bring my daughter in, stand her in front of him, point at her and say, "Happy Valentines Day." I mean, I gave him a human. How can you top that? A sweetie workout party at the gym? Have you completely lost your mind? I love my husband and I know he wants me to be healthy. But I'm afraid I'm like an old car. If you start to screw with things, it'll break down. I'm fine. I consume so much caffeine and cigarettes in a day that it is probably a felony. I like the way I live.

I have an idea for a sweetie party and it ain't at the gym my hot little friend. That's right! Potties heah!!!! (Pookie, Jersey Shore) Now THAT's a Valentines Day party. Me, you and an ice cold Coke.