Written by guest author: Laura M.
When I was six years old and my brother was three years old, our grandmother took us from our parents because Mom and Dad were heavy meth users.
We would often be without a place to live, food to eat, a car for transportation, etc. I suspect that at one point in time, my parents cooked meth while my brother and I lived with them. I know for certain that they would sell it at various points in time. Shortly before going to live with my grandmother, I remember my dad showing me an envelope full of money and telling me that it was my money, that it had been given to me for birthdays and Christmases. I never saw that money again. I remember living in cars. I remember living in tents. My grandmother recently told me that my family’s trailer had been the subject of a drive-by shooting. Apparently, we had not been home, thankfully. I remember that we would often just pick up and leave wherever we were staying, leaving everything behind.
While living with grandma, Dad would call and talk to my brother and I very frequently. I don’t ever remember talking to my mom. My grandmother went to Slovakia to teach English for a year when I was maybe seven years old. She decided to give my parents another chance. She let them move into her home and take care of my brother and I. For a month or so, things seemed to go well. I remember everything being fairly normal. Then, my parents let another family move in with us. I suspect that they started using again around this time. I never saw my parents. I was always left with the new people. I remember one night where I could not sleep, I was just laying in my bed. I heard my parents car, so I ran out to the living room to ask the man if I could see my mom and dad. I was told that they just left, but while laying in bed later, I heard their car leave the driveway. I remember the ache inside, the feeling of loss. Shortly after this, my brother and I went to live with my great grandmother. When grandma came back from Slovakia, we moved back in with her.
When I was in the fourth grade, my parents had gotten their act back together.
While I was a very bright child, I struggled in school. I talked in class too much and had trouble completing my assignments. Finally, I had a teacher who knew how to work with me, so I was doing well in school. My grandmother let my little brother move in with my parents while I finished the school year. At the beginning of the fifth grade, I moved in with my mother, father, and brother. In the middle of the school year, we moved out of state.
All through middle school, I struggled with loving myself. This is not uncommon with kids that age, but I took it to extremes. While I did have a couple close friends that were good for me, I remained the closest with a girl who put me down all the time. When another friend would try to intervene, or steal my attention away from her, she would find a way to destroy that friendship. I started cutting myself. I would do it when I was depressed, which was a lot, I would do it when I was angry, which was a lot, and I would do it when I felt nothing, which was a lot. I drank quite a bit. Despite my volitility, I grew very close to my father. We would have nasty, screaming fights. But in general, I counted him as a friend. When I hated him, it was only because I hated everybody. Or, because he was trying to protect me, but had little clue how to do so because he had missed so many parenting years. I barely had any type of relationship with my mom.
In the middle of my eighth grade year, we moved back to California. We were supposed to stay with my great grandmother temporarily until we found a home. I started running away a lot. I would run away for days, sometimes weeks. I drank a lot. By a lot, I mean A LOT. My parents started letting my friends and I drink at the house, because if they didn’t, they would never see me. My dad didn’t want to see it, but at least if I was drinking at home where they could hear us, I wasn’t getting raped in some alleyway. It was kind of a deal, if I went to school (which I hadn’t gone for four months before we moved back to Calfornia), then I could drink at home on the weekends. This didn’t last very long, and soon I was running away anyway.
My first line of meth was in the eighth grade.
I went in an alley with two of my friends. We each did our first line, and I found a new way to hate myself. One friend never did it again, and the other became a regular user alongside me. Apparently, my parents relapsed around this time, because before long, my mom would slip me pieces of foil or paper with some meth folded in it. For a few months, I only used with my friends who were only a year or two older than me. And at first, it was once or twice a week. My use quickly escalated, though, when I started using with my ‘aunt.’ My ‘aunt’ was a young woman, about 21, who my parents had tried to clean up when they were clean and sober. She introduced me to a lot of older users who seemed to have no problem getting high with a fourteen year old. I started using with my mom, too. When my dad found out, he was furious. But after a bit, he sort of resigned himself to the idea. I think it was a combination of my mother’s manipulation, his own addiction, and some sort of twisted guilt and worry that lead him to eventually start using with me too.
One night, one of my dad’s friends molested me.
He admitted it to my dad days later. My dad beat the hell out of him. However, after doing a bunch of drugs because he didn’t know how to cope, paranoia took over and my dad started blaming me. He said that I was just trying to ruin his friendships, that I was basicly a lolita. He even threatened to kill me. I ran away. I stayed with a gay friend and his mom, and while I was there, I didn’t touch meth. Eventually, shortly after Thanksgiving, I was convinced to come home. Within two days, I was using meth again. About two weeks later, I ran away and stayed with a friend. Him and his family helped clean me up and they took care of me. I even spent Christmas and my birthday with them (they’re the same day.) My parents convinced me to come home, saying that they were clean, the day after Christmas. So, I came home on December 26th. My mother told me that they had told the man that molested me that I wanted to go to the police , but I wouldn’t if he gave me $8,000 dollars. I never said such a thing. My parents spent $7,500 and gave me $500. On December 28th, I walked in to the garage to find my mom, dad, and aunt smoking meth. My mom offered me the pipe and I accepted. On December 31st, I ran away from home, again. I hitchhiked to Southern California, where I met some lovely homeless people who sort of adopted me. They took care of me, fed me, clothed me, and asked only one thing in return- that I never do meth again.
In March, I was arrested for being a runaway. After a couple days in juvenile hall, my grandmother flew down to get me. I stayed with her for a little bit, but made the decision to go ack to my parents. See, while I was away my father had gotten in a horrible motorcycle accident on his way to rescue my friend L from a party that had gotten out of hand. He almost lost his leg, and they weren’t sure if he wasn’t still going to lose it after the surgeries. I felt guilty, like I should go help out. That was a huge mistake.
While I was gone, my parents use had skyrocketed.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I desperately wanted to be clean, but it was around me like it was going out of style. Within weeks of being home, I met a boy who had just come out of a juvenile rehabilitation center in the desert. He was a year older than me. He, too, used to do meth but didn’t want to anymore. Also, all of his friends were still using. We clung to eachother, and I quickly moved in with him and his mother after we explained the situation to his mom. His mother was an amazing person, a lovely caring person who saw a broken child in front of her who she wanted to save. After a couple months, he started using again. He went with my dad to beat up the guy who molested me, but the three of them just ended up getting high together. This shows the weakness of the addict perfectly, don’t you think? My boyfriend and my father were not bad people, they were actually good people. But they were good people with a crippling addiction. Soon, I was getting high with my boyfriend again. We would fight and he became verbally and emotionally abusive. Still I stayed with him because, in my mind, he was some sort of savior. I eventually left him, but not until I found somebody to take his place.
My mother introduced me and my friend L to her drug dealer, who was 18.
She hoped that one of us would hit it off with him. If your daughter or her best friend is dating a drug dealer, you get free drugs, right? Well, he became my new boyfriend. Very quickly, all my drug buddies were people in their 30’s and 40’s. I remember that only one of them had a problem getting high with a fifteen year old. However, that reluctance only lasted about thirty minutes. Within two weeks of having this new boyfriend, we got pulled over while somebody else was driving. They put their drugs in my purse, and I got charged with possession of paraphanalia, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, and transportation of a controlled substance. I was also charged with possession of marijuana, but that was mine. I rememer sitting in class two days later, high out of my mind, with my eyes peeled to the door that opened out to the street. I swore that every van that drove by was somebody keeping an eye on me, scaring me into not snitching. I had a panic attack after school, and explaining why to a couple friends who I had used with in the past, but who were now clean. I remember how sympathetic they seemed, but now I know it was because they felt sad for me, not because they believed my delusions. I was living with my drug dealer boyfreind now, and reached the height of my use. I would spend days with my eyes glued to the windows, convinced that people were outside watching. I only left the apartment at night, and only ate a couple meals a week. I had always been a very curvy girl, and averaged about 145 lbs. I dropped from 145 lbs. to 118 lbs. in about two weeks, and maintained that weight by using for many days straight, then gorging on a massive fast food meal before binging on meth again. The only thing I ate or drank while using was milk, ice cream, and milk shakes. Anything else made me nauseous to even think about. I don’t remember much from this period, it’s all pretty much a blur. After three months, the boyfriend left me for my best friend. They moved out of state together. She ended up pregnant with his child, and he would beat her when he was high. He picked up an STD from a prostitute, and their daughter was very nearly born with serious birth defects because of it. Thankfully, she left him and is now clean and sober and we are good friends again.
Because he was gone, and I hated myself so much that I couldn’t stand being alone with myself, I went back to the first one. I kept using, kept using, kept using. I turned sixteen. Kept using, kept using, kept using. April 21st, I used meth at about 2AM. I had court in the morning stemming from the charges I had gotten the previous years. I was put in the protective custody of juvenile hall. I cried, but it was almost a relief. I could finally be away from the drugs again. Maybe I could get some help? I was put in an experimental drug program. The program was a load of shit, and it failed three years later. However, I was paired with an amazing therapist who helped me through my self-hate issues.
On May 21st, I was called into the admissions department of the juvenile hall because of a family emergency. They told me that my father had had a heart attack and was in a coma, but that our family car had been repossessed, so I had no ride to the hospital. The judge who presided over my case dropped her load for that dy on another juvenile judge, and drove me to the hospital.
As I walked into the ICU waiting room, somebody in ICU flatlined. It was my father.
Once they stabilized him, I was able to see him. His skin was blue and translucent. My dad was Irish, and normally had the red skin to prove it. He had tubes running in and out of everywhere imaginable. He had bloody foam dried around the tube forced down his throat to make him breath. His heart was pumping, his lungs were breathing, but he was already dead. He had flatlined three times that day, three heart attacks, three seperate halts to the blood flow to his brain. He had turned 38 years old exactly two weeks before. He took his last breathe in the same hospital that he had taken his first breathe, exactly thirtyeight years and two weeks later.
Meth wasn’t content to just ruin our lives, meth had to take a life as well.
My mother continued to use after his death and treated me horribly. She would brag to people, in front of me, that she helped kill my father and that she was glad he was dead. She started getting high with my little brother and my younger cousin. I was placed in foster care with my grandmother, a few hours away. When I turned 18, I moved back to try to salvage what was left of my family. My brother no longer uses, and neither does my mother.
I do not hold anything my father did in his addiction against him, because I know what it did to ME. I used for a very shot period of time, just under two years. I know what it did to me. I lied to people I cared about. I decieved people. I manipulated people. I purposely hurt people. I did things that are so shameful, I lay awake and think about them still. I see the faces of people I hurt in my dreams.
My father was not a bad person.
I know who he was. He was the kind of person who would open his home and his heart to you, even if he didn’t know you, just because you looked like you needed somebody. And when you screwed him over, he didn’t let it stop him from opening his heart to the next person who looked like they needed it. He was the kind of person who would put rose petals on his four year old daughter’s bed because Sleeping Beauty had rose petals on her bed, and that was the little girl’s favorite book. He was the guy who cried when his daughter’s heart was broken. He was the guy who would sometimes take his daughter to a fancy restaraunt, just the two of them, for no reason. He was the kind of guy who loved his children with his whole heart. He was the guy who was raised by his mother and grandmother, who respected women with a fierceness. He was the guy who loved music with a passion, who could play guitar and harmonica beautifully, without a single lesson. He was the guy that instilled his love of books, despite his dyslexia, in his daughter. And these were only the years that I knew him. Before that, he was the little boy with red hair and freckles. He was the little boy who loved his momma and his dog. He was the little boy that loved scouts and hated catechism. He was the little boy who cried when other little boys made fun of him. He was the little boy who desperately sought approval from others. He was the teenage boy who spray painted his and my mother’s names inside of a heart in his mother’s tool shed. He was the young man who was terrified of bringing a life into this world, but whose heart melted when he saw her little face. He was the young man who sat for hours at the hospital, staring into the sleeping face of his newborn daughter. He was my father.
But he hated himself, too. And he had an addiction. One that steals souls, and ruins lives. The man that was on drugs was not my father. And I know this because that little girl who hated herself, who poisoned herself with those same drugs, was not who I am. All addicts struggle daily with staying off of their drug. I think it is easier for me than most. See, I am my father’s daughter. I am just like him in almost every way. I know that if I drop my guard, if I stop loving myself for one second, if I think I can do it ‘just one more time,’ that I will be just like my father, and it will kill me.
The last time I used was that night before I went into juvenile hall. I was sixteen. I will be twenty-two later this month. April of 2009 will be six years for me. Sadly, March 2009 marks six years without my father.
I know that some of the things my parents, or I have, done are terrible, but can’t we all relate in one way or another? What addict hasn’t done something that they NEVER would have done if they weren’t high or in that search for a high? I know I’ve done things that are far less than noble. And I hope to make up for that by sharing my story. If I can make one parent say, “Hey, maybe I’m not a good parent when I’m high?” or “I don’t want my child to be parentless,” or if I can make one young person think twice before trying meth, then all the pain I have endured is worth it.