I wasn't co-dependent in the traditional sense that professionals might describe co-dependency. I was co-dependent by the fact that your drugs had became a major focus in my life. It took time away from my husband, my other children and myself. The brain part of my body knew it wasn't right, but the heart part of my body told me I was your Mom and mothers were suppose to take care of their babies, (even though my baby was a 6'4" man). My heart told me I should still love you, protect you and save you. Loving you, even at your worst, was so tremendously easy. Protecting you and saving you was an impossibility.
Just as diabetes, heart disease and other physical ailments have their symptoms, so does the disease of addiction. Unfortunately, the symptoms of addiction can also be referred to as "sins". A person suffering addiction will show symptoms of lying, cheating, stealing, and conning and a myriad of other unbecoming attributes. It is so hard to have empathy for an addict, while not condoning what they will do to get their next fix.
When a person cuts his arm, he can look down at the blood, feel the pain, and say "I had better go to the doctor and get some stitches." His/her brain allows them to look logically at the problem, to assess it and to act appropriately. The brain of an addict does not work that way regarding their addiction.
"Mom," you told me. "from the time an addict wakes up in the morning until they go to bed at night the only thing on their minds is thinking about drugs, trying to stay off drugs, or trying to figure how to get their next fix. Mom, I dance with the devil everyday."
"I know you do, Honey," I replied. "Just try to be the one who leads."
You told me even the smell of exhaust from the tailpipe of a car would awaken the demon inside you begging to be fed.
"Hey, Whiting. Come here. I've got something that will make you feel better."
You didn't know what you were setting yourself up for that night. Did you, Honey. You gave yourself away that night.
20/20 hindsight vision brings about all the "should haves", "would haves", "could haves". I should have done this. I would have done that. I could have done something else. I have looked through the lenses of that vision so much over the past years, wondering what the outcome might have been had I or your dad done something other than what we did.
I have heard the words "TOUGH LOVE" batted around as how one should deal with an addict. First of all, I was married to one of the most forgiving men I have ever met. You know your dad, Honey. He always gave everyone a second chance, or a third, or a fourth. You remember all the young guys that had worked for him in our construction business who would quit, go to work for someone else and later down the road come back and ask for their jobs back. Do you ever recall one time, he didn't take them back? I can't. Beneath his stone exterior beat such a gentle, forgiving heart. And in the hands of my children, I was mush. Tough love was not who we were. Perhaps it's who we should have been, but not who we were at the time.
To complicate the tough love scenario, we had two precious little boys that stood between you and us. Vince and Christian were there in all their innocence standing in the middle. If your Dad fired you, they would be the ones who would suffer. If I turned my back on you, I would be turning my back on them. Call it love. Call it weakness. Call it whatever terms might be attached to it, but we just couldn't do it. Along with the very true fact that my son was in truth two people. There was Daren and then there was Daren on drugs. They were as different a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: night and day. Oh my God my darling boy how I loved you. How I loved everything that Daren was. You were so Christ like in so many ways. When you were you, you were so kind. You were never judgmental. You had compassion for your fellow man. You would give your last dollar to the panhandler on the corner or stop and help whoever had a car stalled at the side of the road. Your sense of humor would never end. You would make me laugh and you would touch my heart.
"You are a very good man with a very bad problem,' I would tell you. And that was the truth of it.
- to be continued -