Addicts are People

Addicts are people. They are not trash to be thrown away. Please don’t talk about them like they are human refuse. There are plenty of people who use substances who are good, kind and decent people. There are many people who use due to the trauma they have experienced or because of their circumstances. Some are born into a life where drugs or alcohol is a part of their culture, where using is normalized. Maybe a person uses drugs to treat their mental health condition, or maybe just to escape from the reality of their life. Drug addiction happens to all ages, genders, colors, socioeconomic statuses, it can happen to literally anyone. There are many ways in which people start down the path of addiction, no two are the same, so don’t assume that because you know “one worthless drug addict” that everyone struggling with addiction is the same. That’s called overgeneralization and it’s not fair to do to any group of people.

Some addicts commit crimes. So do normal people. When you are someone with an addiction, some of your time is spent feeding that addiction. Many of your behaviors are focused on satisfying your need for the substance of your addiction. The normal cycle is use, come down, buy more. Sometimes in trying to get drugs, a person becomes desperate and uses whatever means they are able to in order to get what they want. Sometimes this results in crimes like robbery, check fraud, panhandling, prostitution, and, in extreme cases, murder. While I am not justifying any of these crimes, I’m telling you that there’s a reason these crimes are being committed and why someone fighting an addiction might see it as a means to an end. Once again, these can be desperate people. This is also why some people choose to make or sell drugs. It means that their own use costs less and they are able to even have an income on which to base their lifestyle if they sell enough. I once had someone tell me “I can make $3,000 cash in two days selling meth. Why should I ever work 40 hours a week to make $400 at the end of it and then wait another week or two to be paid?!”

Some addicts struggle with completing drug treatment, and some normal folks struggle with finishing EVERYTHING. Where there are drugs, there’s demand. Where there’s demand, there’s drugs. It’s an unending cycle. You can’t incarcerate people fast enough to stop it, and you can’t treat addicts quick enough to stop it. There’s no good cure for the drug addiction plaguing our country. Incarceration of addicts doesn’t cure them of their addiction, but then again, sometimes neither does treatment. There are some really good treatment centers out there, but they don’t have a 100% success rate. There are people who go to all the meetings they possibly can, have a sponsor, have a good social support system and who still relapse. Recovery isn’t perfect. There are really two ways out from addiction: death or successful treatment. One of those options doesn’t have a 100% success rate, the other does.

Some addicts have priorities which are not the same as yours (so you refer to them as “the wrong priorities”). Picture yourself living the life of an addict. You need to choose whether to buy food or drugs. To me this is probably one of the most difficult choices a person could possibly make, but many people think it’s easy. Most people don’t understand why addicts would choose drugs over food, rent, medical care or their children. Drug addiction is a sick and twisted thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s hard for someone struggling with addiction to hold down a job, especially if using leaves them unable to function properly. “Desperate times call for desperate measures”… as the saying goes, once an addict loses their job, the result is desperation to meet EVERY need, not just addiction.

Let’s not pretend for a minute that all addicts are breaking the law. Alcohol is legal. A person can drink themselves stupid as long as they don’t drive, be drunk in public, etc. There are very few laws related to drinking at home. Alcoholics are probably the most common addicts, and yet they are somehow viewed as “better” than people who use meth or heroin, probably mostly because they are not breaking the law. But alcoholics break the law all the time. There’s many people with violations due to drinking and driving. There’s many assaults, including domestic violence and sexual assault, which were escalated due to alcohol. So how is this type of addict somehow “less bad” as compared to a hard drug user?

Addicts are people.

They love, they live, they contribute to society. They play music. They create art. They work. They play. They have families. They have spouses and significant others. They own property. They rent. They care for others. They teach. They learn. They have skills. They are kind. They can sometimes see the best in others. They are smart, sometimes bordering on brilliant! They are resourceful, much more resourceful than I will ever be. But most of all they are someone’s family member or friend. They have people who care about them and love them.

So before you say something unkind about someone struggling with addiction, think about how you’d treat someone you love who was facing this struggle. Each of us contributes to this world, and there’s enough negativity in it already. Be kind.

 

Mother’s Day

It’s the week I dread most in the entire world. The week that rubs motherhood in my face and makes me feel utterly devastated every year. I’m happy for those who are mothers, but completely jealous. I try not to be bitter, and I apologize if sometimes it feels that way, but it’s hard for me.

You can tell me all day “your time will come” or “you’ll be a great mom” but it doesn’t help the pain. I’m grateful that my partner understands and when I tell him “It’s gonna be a hard week” he gets it. It’s gonna be a hard week, and every year it gets worse.

It’s hard to look at (what I view as) “the success” of others and feel failure in my own story. I know that this is an irrational thought and I shouldn’t believe it, but it has sunk so deeply into my soul that I’m worried if I never have kids, it will just break my heart to the point of being broken forever.

For those of you who don’t know, I had kids who called me mom before. When I was married, I had two sons. They called me mom and I knew them from when they were 2 and 3 until they were 9 an 10. These boys meant the world for me. It was my true crowning victory at the time. I know those of you with kids will understand the joy that having a child brings to your life, and this feeling (I’d imagine) was the same for me. I felt my life was complete and my family was whole. When he and I divorced in 2008, my whole world came crashing down. At first he told me he wanted to allow me to interact with the boys. He sent me letters they had written and I visited them a couple of times during the next year. Soon after, he got another woman pregnant and she harassed me into submission. I had to let the boys go. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to see them one last time, and I didn’t get to tell them why. It wasn’t ok for me to do that.

A couple of years later, I (very hesitantly) started dating another man with children, a ten year old boy and a three year old girl. After he and I had been dating 6 weeks or so, he wanted to introduce me to them. From the second I met them, I loved them. They were the kind of kids that just wrapped themselves around your heart and didn’t let go. For about a year I stayed at home with the kids, mostly the three year old while the boy was at school. I bonded with the kids, and once again I felt at peace with my life. But I wanted a child of my own, and the man I was dating didn’t want that, so eventually the relationship ended. Once again my heart was broken. He and the kids moved away, so I couldn’t stay in their lives at all even though my ex would have been ok with it. About once a year he sends me photos of the kids. While I’m grateful for this small, kind gesture, and I appreciate it more than he’d ever know, sometimes it still hurts. It reopens that deep wound and I feel the loss again.

Some people will make comments like “I know you’ll make such a good mom one day” or “you are so good with children”. They even say things like “your time is coming, it’ll happen”, but the more days that go by, the more those words hurt as well. I’m impatient and I would like that day to be here already. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m worried about my ability to get pregnant as I get older and become “high risk”. “You can take mine for a few hours and then you’ll never want kids again!” Really?! You think a few hours with your children will stop my desire when I’ve spent years with caring for both my own and other people’s children. I love naughty, challenging children. They are so undervalued. I’m as ready as I will be. I know there will be challenges, but I enjoy problem solving. I’m already exhausted many times, and I am eager to accept these sacrifices in the pursuit of my dreams.

What’s the worst is when they mention any of “my kids” like “you were so good with them, it’s just proof you’ll be such a good mom”… Ouch. It’s those words that cut me to my core and break my heart.

Yes, I am good with children. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education partnered with 12 years of experience in that field. I’ve always been good with children. I love their sense of creativity and wonder. I love their ever-exploring and questioning minds. I relate to all the questions they ask, it drives me to never stop learning.

You’re right, it may happen some day, but what if it never does? How will I accept that fact? How will I deal with that “failure”? What will motivate me to continue my life and feel successful? How many hours will I weep the day that I really know my window is gone. Yes, there’s always adoption, and I have always been open to that option. I’d love to become a mom to a child who needed a compassionate and safe caregiver. I wouldn’t mind an older child that others consider “damaged” or “traumatized”. I’ve done work with trauma survivors. I know it’s challenging, but I feel I would be understanding and possibly a good fit, depending on the child.

You are welcome to ask me to care for your children. If I’m able, I’m happy to do it. I won’t always be able to do it for free, but I’m also open to hanging out with you and having your children around. I don’t mind. I’m happy to give you a break from the stress of being a parent. I know you (and your partner maybe) still need time to yourself.

Finally, yes, I was an amazing mother to those kids (both sets) and I have every intention of being that kind of parent for my own kids, if and when that time comes. I still love those children with all of my heart. They are now going on 17 and 16, 16 and 10. As time speeds by I think about them and all the milestones they are experiencing. I try not to focus on the fact that I’m missing them, but rather that they are growing up so fast, and I’m glad they have fathers to raise them to the best of their abilities. Yes, sometimes I wish I was still a part of their lives, but I try to remember that I was a good mom to them, and that they loved me very much. I like to think they remember their time with me fondly or still may care about me, but I may never know it.

So I want to send my love and light to those that feel like me. I want to give you all hope and support. I know I’m not alone. I know there are others who have lost kids by divorce, death, termination of rights and alienation or many other ways. I want to let those of you who long to have children that you’re not alone. Those of you who have loved children and lost them, there are people who understand that pain, myself included. I want to encourage you to not listen when those irrational thoughts come creeping in if you want to be a mother. There are ways regardless of age, relationship status or income. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can choose to be patient, or you can take matters into your own hands, the choice is up to you. It’s your life. Do what you want with it and don’t worry about what others think. Sending you much love as you also struggle to celebrate Mother’s day. And please know that if you feel like you’ve been a mother in any capacity, this day is for you too.

 

Life of an Advocate

I wake up. I try to come to grips with the fact this today will be busy, but I will make it through – I have a 100% statistic so far in my life of getting through the day.

I slept like garbage last night, I’m exhausted and I no longer own a coffee pot. I also don’t have the money to buy coffee or the time to make an extra stop on my way to the courthouse.

I throw myself together in 5 minutes and hope that I look presentable enough for court. (Hey, I showered and brushed my teeth, I’m wearing clean and professional clothes, so that’s great, right?)

I arrive at the courthouse and drive around for 10 minutes before finding a space 2 blocks away.

I run to the courthouse so as to avoid being late and accompany my client. Things go smoothly.

Finish my first appointment at late 10am and my next one starts at 10am… across town. I’m definitely going to be late.

Run to my car and try to obey the speed limits as I’m driving, but it’s so tempting. I think to myself “Getting a ticket will make you later and broke.”

Client doesn’t show after all that rushing. Oh well, on to the next. I shake it off.

I return to the office and it’s an absolute mess from yesterday and all the work I did. I clear enough space to start working.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I have 8 phone calls to return already.

I have 3 clients with financial needs waiting for an answer and my director has still not responded.

I have 12 emails in my inbox and most of them require a response today.

I shove a snack into my face as I try to call back a client, no answer. I leave a message. I pray to God my garbled message is understandable. I make a mental note not to eat when I’m calling a client, but who knows when I will be able to get lunch?!

I have a client at the front desk wanting to speak to me and an appointment in 5 minutes.

I’m stressed out to the max and my stomach is growling so much I’m worried someone would be able to hear it through the phone.

I needed to pee at 9 am and still haven’t gone, it’s now 1pm… my bladder may explode.

I’m sitting in a meeting when I get an email from the accounting department about a client financial item. They are issuing checks today… right this minute…and if I don’t get my request in now it won’t get paid for another 3 days.

I leave the meeting and run to my desk and then downstairs to accounting. I run back up to the meeting and try to regain focus.

I shove some food in my face between phone calls. My phone continues to ring off the hook as I’m on the phone and trying to eat.

I have an appointment in another hour. I’m sure she has a lot which needs to be addressed and I know my workload will get worse before it gets better.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like to work in the corporate world again. It would be so nice to have predictable hours, predictable needs and predictable workloads. I can picture my life as boring and average. I wouldn’t be helping people in need, but my skills would still be in high demand. My day would be filled with , human resource functions such as staff trainings, creating documents, running reports, employee files, background checks and interviews.

I’m bored at the simple thought.

Would my life be easier doing many other jobs? Of course it would! But I wouldn’t ever want them. As stressful as my life is, it an be very rewarding. As hectic as it can be, it can be filled with client victories and progress towards risk reduction. As ever-changing as it is, it can sometimes be boring and mundane still. As much as I may travel and it annoys me to “waste my time” on the road, it’s not wasted because it’s bringing vital services to clients who need it. I’m making outreach in rural areas which need me. I’m assisting some of the most vulnerable people on this planet with vital services. Is it sometimes challenging? Absolutely. Is it sometimes very sad and hard to listen to the stores I’m told? Hell yes. There are days where I wonder how someone could hurt another human being like that. But as hard as it is, it’s important to listen to victims. It’s crucial to their story and it’s a huge first step to getting their needs met.

Being an advocate can be hard as fuck.

But I wouldn’t want anything else right now.

Things I learn from spending time with my ex

I spent time talking to my ex today.

My ex and I have a past. For years I tried to get him to change. For years I tried to convince him that I was right. I tried to tell him that he should be more of an adult, that he should hang out with different friends, that he should stay out of trouble. I tried to convince him to stop smoking, to stop drinking, to go to bed early and wake up on time for work.

He didn’t listen to any of it. He brushed me aside. We fought about it constantly. He thought I was trying to make him be someone he wasn’t. But I could see the person he was capable of being, and it was a person I wanted to be with.

But things ended.

I never got to see him be that person. He wasn’t that person in the end. He was wrong for me and I was wrong for him. We wanted different things and it ended in a violent outburst that was not only unexpected, but something the person I thought he was would have never done.

I’ve got a new guy and my future is not with my ex, but my past is. My current guy doesn’t think that. He’s jealous and worried when I spend time with my ex. But my ex was my friend first. He IS my friend. So why can’t I have both my ex (who is my friend) and my new guy?

My new guy has ambition. He has a great job, he owns his own business. He wants all the things that I want out of life. He thinks about our future. He makes plans. He makes promises and keeps them. He’s amazing. I love him.

It’ll take time.

Time and trust.

Someday soon I hope he can understand that it’s not about the relationship we had, but the friendship we once had. It’s not about what I wanted to be with him because that’s dead and gone. My ex is becoming someone else, and I hope that takes him down beautiful paths. I’m moving on, and I’m thrilled to see what that brings me. I’m excited for plans, promises, and a future.

I’m moving forward with my new guy, and life is beautiful.

It’s a Good Week

This week has been the most epic week ever so far. It started on Sunday when I saw my best friend and her beautiful newborn baby. (I cried.)

Then today I was offered the most amazing job, and I accepted. (I cried again.)  It will allow me to move back closer to my friends. It will allow me to do the kind of work I absolutely love. It will allow me to spend more time with my friends and family.

My guy has news too, but he’s being secretive. Oh that man can be so frustrating, but I like him so much I just don’t even care. Sometimes I just wish he’d be a little more open with his feelings, but if that’s the worst thing I have to deal with… I’ll do it.

Oh that man makes me smile so big… and it never ends, that smile. I can be so frustrated and still smiling like a damn jack-o-lantern! Gah. How does he do it?!

I can’t wait to see him this weekend. It will bring the best end to the best week I’ve had in a long time.

A Little bit of Happy

It’s been brought to my attention that lately my blog has been reflective, but doesn’t accurately describe the happiness which is currently in my life. For that reason, I would like to share with you a little bit of happy.

I’m so blessed to have in my life a man who makes me so happy. Last night my best friend and I were sitting around talking, and I could not get him out of my head! Now I’ve known this girl since I was 4 years old, and she hears close to everything about the people I date, my work, everything. She’s one my my best friends and she knows me so well. But she has never heard me talk about anyone the way I talk about this guy.

The best part about the guy I’m seeing is all the small things. He doesn’t buy me flowers or take me on expensive dates, but when he spends time with me I feel like the luckiest girl alive. I’ve never wanted any of those things anyway. All I’ve ever wanted is someone who let me know just how awesome he thinks I am and how lucky he is to have me around. This guy did it last weekend in 5 words:

“Thank you for being mine”

How can 5 words make me so happy?! I’ve dated lots of guys, and they all had one problem. They were all fatally flawed and doomed to fail. But this guy has me feeling like I’m living a romantic comedy movie. I feel like this may finally be my happy ending and the credits may roll at any moment instead of a star-crossed lover waiting for the end of the relationship. I’m totally twitterpated and it’s thrilling and oh-so-scary all at the same time.

The biggest reason I feel this way is that I’m always my complete and unadulterated self with him. Never have I pretended to like something which I truly don’t. Never have I had to make excuses or little white lies about how I feel about something. Everything I say to him comes with complete acceptance. Every strange thing I do is just how I am, who I am and what I’ve experienced that makes me uniquely me. I don’t have to wear a mask, I can just be 100% Jodi (which can be scary to others, I know that) and he enjoys every minute of it.

This weekend I went to spend some time with him. We had dinner and then went to see a movie. It was no big deal. It wasn’t tickets to the opera or five star dining. It was great food and a movie that I wasn’t all that into, but I got to sit in a dark theater for 3 hours holding his hand and being next to him. When I was cold during the movie, he gave me his coat so I could stay warm. He let me hold his arm as we walked down the street on the way to his apartment from the movie. Nothing that was a big deal to most people, but to me it was the most precious gift to be able to spend time with him because with him everything means so much more.

Just being close to him is a big deal because I know he has other things he could be doing. He has hobbies and friends. He works a lot. He has a lot of responsibilities at work, and I can understand that sometimes it’s hard to pull himself away from things he needs to get done at work, but he does it for me. He makes time to see me even though we live a good distance apart.

And in the back of my head there’s starting to exist this thought I’m not quite sure about committing to yet. That pesky thought that I may be falling for this guy, a feeling that has really snuck up on me. What if I’m falling in love with this man? Does he feel the same way? There’s always that awkward moment when you worry that you like someone more than they like you, but I don’t feel that way. I know that he likes me exactly as much as I like him, and it’s so comforting and so reassuring to know that I am someone so special to this guy. I love it. I’m so thrilled that I am important to him. To him, I’m a huge deal and he’s just as honored to spend time with me.

So I’ve been keeping it to myself what I’ve been feeling because I’m so scared that if I utter those words out loud it will scare him away. I’m scared that if I say it, it’ll all fade away. But last night talking with my friend it all came out, and she instantly said “I knew it! You really like this guy! You’re falling for him!” and I was ok with it. It wasn’t something I didn’t already know in my own head, it was just the fact of how I felt. And now it’s public on my blog… which is even more scary because what if he reads it!? (Oh god!) But I really don’t care because I think he already knows.

He showed me where he works. Not just “this is the office building I work in”, but he gave me a full tour like a proud papa would show off a new baby. He showed me his office, and the full building, and he was proud to do it and it made him happy to share it. I was just impressed. And not just because he has so much more responsibilities than what I do (we work in the same field), but that he allowed me to see what he does when I know his job is such a huge part of his life. And he wanted to share it with me, which is a big deal!

But I’m waiting to see where this life takes me and to see what happens next, and I can’t wait. I’m anxiously awaiting our next date as the days pass. With the holidays I know I will have to be extra patient, but I’ll gladly wait as long as it takes to see him again. I hope he feels the same way about me. I hope he’s just as smitten as I am. I hope he pictures our future together. I hope he is curious to see where our path will lead together. I’m not talking marriage and I’m not talking having children, but just this life and what experiences we’ll have together. I’m so excited to see what happens next, it’s like reading a book and wanting to turn the pages extra fast so I can get onto the next page as fast as possible!

And I hope he is falling in love with me because that would just make me so happy.

Sometimes I forget to sit back and really appreciate all the happiness I have in my life, but this is definitely one bit of happiness I’m so thrilled to share with all of my friends. I have my moments where I’m sad, and where I think the world isn’t fair, but then I have moments like this which make all the suffering in my life thus far seem so far away and so worth it for what has brought me to this exact moment with this amazing guy because if I hadn’t experienced all those things, I wouldn’t have been right where I needed to be for all of these pieces to come together and for this to be my little bit of happy. Maybe it will turn into a lifetime of happy. I’m not sure yet, but I’m enjoying it for now.

Two Months Later

It’s been two months since my ex and I broke up. Being friends isn’t exactly working. It’s weird and awkward. There are moments where I want everything is like it used to be. Every once in a while his eyes catch mine and I get a glimpse of what once was.

But then I hate him. He does or says things that just make me hate him. It’s incredibly frustrating.

But I know it can’t be. I’m seeing someone new. I’m moving on. I’ve come to the realization that the man I fell in love with is gone. He’s not that person anymore. He’s not a carefree hippie whose hair falls into his eyes and whose eyes sparkle when he laughs. I don’t like who he’s become. We can’t be together anymore and it breaks my heart.

My new guy is everything he wasn’t. He’s smart, handsome, funny and very professional. He’s got goals and dreams. He doesn’t make me wait. He truly cares about me. I really like him.

When my last relationship ended I thought there was no way I could ever let anyone in again, but slowly I’m letting him into my life and into my heart. I’m putting myself out there in the hopes that he won’t break my heart. I’m telling him about myself in the hopes that he’ll accept me and so far he has.

We’re getting to know one another. We’re learning about one another, about one another’s habits, families, where we come from and where we’re going. We’re sharing our hopes and dreams. We’re learning what the other wants and what we enjoy or don’t enjoy. We’re spending time at romantic dinners and walking arm in arm down the street.

There’s no better feeling in the world.