Do They Know? Part One

by Lori James


Do they know what it’s like to be relieved when they find out their child has been arrested? Now you’ll be able to sleep. You know where they are. You hope that maybe now they will realize they need help and stop doing the drugs. Maybe.

Do they know what it feels like to have drug dealers calling their home? The sheer terror that these dealers might know where you live, and might rob or harm you?  So now you’re always looking over your shoulder.

Do they know what it’s like to not be able to have a love life? Some boyfriends/husbands simply can’t handle being with the mother of an addict?

Especially if you aren’t already in a relationship, how do you start a new one?

Do they know what it feels like to be blamed by their child, by the world and by themselves for their child’s addiction? How the guilt feels? Always wondering what could I have done differently so this wouldn’t have happened to my child.

Do they know how it feels to not be able to wake their child up and panic because maybe they overdosed? How it feels to be torn between calling for help because you’re not sure whether or not they are just sleeping or not calling and having to live with knowing their child died because they weren’t sure what to do?  And when they call for help and their child wakes up before help gets there, how it feels to be told they’re a horrible parent by their own child? All because you called for help afraid that they would die?

Do they know what it’s like to find their own prescription medication almost empty after they had just gotten it filled? Even after you hid it and it would’ve been like finding a needle in a haystack.

Do they know what it’s like to call the police on their only child because she stole blank checks from them?  And they were cashed by someone?  And how it feels to decide whether or not to press charges?

Do they know what it’s like hide hundreds of dollars of change in their car trunk so their child won’t steal it, only to find it gone anyway?  No stone is unturned.

Do they know how it feels for the police to suggest for them to file a restraining order against their own child?

Do they know what it feels like to plan their child’s funeral in their head? To imagine their beautiful child lying in a casket, and having to bury her? The kind, loving, caring, smart, happy child you raised…

Do they know what it’s like to mourn their child even while their child is still alive?  How painful it is not to see their “real” child anymore? Knowing drugs have stolen their child.

Do they know what’s it’s like to lie to everyone around them because they’re ashamed to tell people why their child is actually “sick”?  To sit at work and pretend everything is okay while their whole world is falling apart?  Because they are afraid of being judged?

Do they know how it feels to be totally terrified of taking their child anywhere? What if she nods off? What if she steals something?  What if she suddenly becomes angry at someone?

Do they know how it feels to know that your once innocent little girl now sells her body nightly to strange men?  For drugs.

Do they know how much pain something as simple as looking at a photo causes? That seeing a photo of their child when they were little and growing up literally makes them feel like they are being stabbed in the heart? Do they have any idea what it feels like to see those photos and wonder if they’ll ever see that child again, their REAL child, before drugs took over?

Do they know what it’s like to raise their grand kids in their 40’s and 50’s when they should be enjoying the privilege of being the “doting” “fun” grandparent instead of the actual parent? What it’s like to be up all night with a teething baby knowing you have to go to work in in the morning? Or up all night with a child with chronic ear infections trying to ease their pain? All while no longer being “spring chickens”.

Do they know what goes through someone’s mind when they’re trying to figure out how to tell their grandchild everything is okay when he tells you he misses his daddy and wishes he had known him or even just had a memory of him?  His daddy lives in heaven.

Do they know?

Can they even imagine?

Do they know how something as simple as the phone ringing or a knock at the door in the middle of the night can cause a serious anxiety attack?  Or even an unknown number calling? Afraid it might be the horrible news they never want to hear?

Do they know how a mother’s heart sinks when her daughter tells her she’s had a gun held to her head, has been raped?  All because of drugs.

Do they know what it’s like to feel guilty to be in your own warm home knowing that your child is out in the cold?

Do they know how it feels like to overhear negative comments at work or even from friends or family about addicts?  While most know full well that your child is addict?  So hurtful.

Do they know what it feels like to hear friends of theirs complain about normal everyday stresses such as there not being enough hours in the day to get things done? Or their nail appointment was cancelled, what will they do now?  

Don’t they know you would give anything to have those kinds of “normal” problems.

Do they know how much it hurts when friends and even family don’t understand why you still speak to your child? Or that your child “scares” them? She is STILL my child.

Do they know what it’s like having to turn all your emotions OFF just to make it through work every day?  To tell yourself over and over that you can FEEL as soon as you get home?

Do they know how devastating it is to lose everything because most of their money went to help their addicted child?  How scary it is to have to start all over again from scratch?

Do they know what it’s like to get calls from jail?  Or to have to visit their child in jail?  It’s an unreal feeling, it feels like you’re in a “Lifetime” movie. 

Do they know how scary it is to see their pregnant daughter nod off and worrying if their grandchild will be okay?  Will their grandchild withdrawal when born?  Will the baby survive?

Do they know how the feeling of betrayal engulfs them when they see that their hiding place for money and valuables has been disturbed?

Do they know how disheartening it is to go to a wedding where everyone is happy for the bride and groom and having fun celebrating? Do they know the mixed feelings involved? Do they notice the sad tears quietly shed because they doubt they’ll ever get to be “the mother of the bride”?

Do they know how upsetting it is to know their child is okay with being homeless and no longer has a desire for a “normal” life?  This has become their “normal” life.

Do they know hard it is to be ridiculed for “enabling” by people who haven’t been through this with their own child?

Do they know how it feels to be “judged” by others because of having to throw their own child out? Would they still think that if they had to live the same kind of life and all of the horrors that come with it?

Do they know the pain that’s felt just by looking at other people’s “normal” family photos posted on Facebook or the pictures others have framed on their desks at work?   While almost all of the photos for the past 14 years that you have with your child in them, your child looks high?

Do they know what it feels like to love and hate their own child all at the same time? Loving their REAL child, the one before drugs.  And hating what their child becomes after the drugs took over? But all the while still loving them?

Do they know how it feels to wonder if maybe they are to blame, did they do or not do something while raising their child that caused this?

Do they know how it feels to wonder what they could have done differently to prevent this from happening to their beloved child?

Do they know what it feels like to know their daughter is living in a crack house? Or on the streets?

Do they know what it’s like to want a way to reach their child but also worry about paying an outrageously high phone bill that they just can’t afford?

Do they know how hard it is to get excited for the holidays? 

Do they know what it feels like to wonder if they even want a love life? Can they have one? 

Do they even have the time or energy to be in a relationship?

Do they? Can they know? No…I don’t think they can.

Read Part Two






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2 Comments to Do They Know? Part One

  1. i appreciate all the things that have been said on here. I being a mother of an addict have those feelings as well. i always wondered wht is was i did wrong.why i did not pick up on it sooner. I am so afraid for my son. he has spent 7 months in jail and has been out going on 1 month.I a pray everyday that he does not fall back inot it. i know that i will never get my son back becasue of the damage it has done to him.But i can start over and love him for what he is.

    • Dawn, It’s so hard to not blame ourselves. It took me many years to stop trying to figure out what I did wrong. Unfortunately we have no control over any of it or over anyone else’s choices. I hope your son is doing well and I think it’s wonderful that your love for him is so strong and you can love and accept him for who he is regardless of what’s in the past. Lori

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