There was no way that I could miss that something was really wrong with this girl. She was upset, not thinking straight, unable to make a decision. It was time for her to answer basic questions about her life, and she was having problems. That’s when she called you.
I heard your voice on the other end of the phone. I don’t know why she put you on speaker, but I think it’s because she was afraid to go through the moment alone. A child should never be afraid to call his or her Mama. There’s something wrong with a world where that is a reality, no matter what the cause of it.
Addiction Causes Heartache in Families
I don’t have any idea what she has and is still putting you through. I’m pretty sure that’s what you would say to me if given the chance. And of course, you are right. There’s no doubt about it—I don’t know. But here’s what I do know for sure: She’s still your baby.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off her hand as she pressed the buttons on her phone. She was trembling, visibly shaken at the very idea that she would have to ask her own mother for a small favor. She didn’t want money, or a ride, or even a place to stay for her and her children. She wasn’t trying to use you.
The reason she was calling was to ask your permission. Not because she had to! No one would have known the difference but her. She just wanted to write down your address. She wanted to be able to call it her home.
What Does it Take to Answer the Call?
Before she hit the last button, she said, “If she doesn’t answer, I understand,” and “If she says no, that’s okay.” I saw her eyes fill with hope when you did answer. Then I saw that hope die when you wouldn’t even give her time to ask the question. “Teresa,” you said. Actually, you didn’t call her Teresa, you called her by her real name, but I won’t use it here for her protection. “Teresa, I don’t have time to talk to you. I have to get in the bathtub.”
You had to take a bath. And because your bath was more important than your baby, I watched your grownup baby’s heart break right in front of me. As the light went out of her eyes, I felt the tears forming in mine. I had to swallow the pain with her. I felt the hurt in my own heart. The very thought of being rejected by the one person who should always stand beside you no matter what was enough to bring me to tears. I can’t even imagine how shattered her heart must have been.
It Doesn’t Matter if Addiction is a Disease or a Choice. Our Children Are Dying.
Even as you turned her away, she kissed her children and told them that it would be all right. But I know that it won’t be—because she’s lost, and addicted, but she’s still your baby.
Everything leading up to this point is none of my business. I know it isn’t, but I got a little of the story anyway. She’s acting “crazy” and is being sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Her friend says that drugs are how she copes with life—that life is what’s wrong with her. From Teresa I found out that it’s more than life. It’s also death.
I may not be able to understand how a person’s life can lead them to this point, but death? Now THAT I can wrap my mind around. When I found my son dead, I went crazy too. I reached for any and everything that would take my mind off the reality that my child was gone. I could make a list of the things I tried if I thought it would do any good. I have a feeling you don’t want to hear any of that. Your mind is closed. Maybe you haven’t suffered a devastating loss. I’m afraid that you are about to. I need you to wake up and prepare for battle, if you even care. Because she’s dying, and no matter what, she’s still your baby.
Overdose, Suicide, Disease, Isolation–Things an Addict Might Experience
I don’t even know if you can reach her now. I saw her mentally close the curtains. She’s in a different place than we are, inside, looking out. She slammed the door shut on her feelings. She will refuse to trust anything or anyone. Since her own Mama won’t give her the time of day when she is clearly desperate, she feels worthless. In self-defense she has separated herself from the rest of the world. She’s in there by herself now—but she’s still your baby.
According to everything I’ve read (including an article at this site: https://www.centeronaddiction.org/prevention/addiction-women) women get addicted faster than men and suffer more health consequences because of addiction. I think it’s safe to say that no one benefits from addiction. I also know that people who become addicted to methamphetamines have about a one percent chance of getting off the drug and regaining their lives.
I don’t know where Teresa’s addiction started. I never laid eyes on her until today. I do know that her husband died recently. Maybe she already had a problem—maybe not. I know that she was recently released from a psychiatric hospital where she spent three weeks. Apparently, they couldn’t straighten out the mess in her head. I don’t think you can unravel grief and addiction in three weeks.
It’s possible that she started using drugs as a coping mechanism to get through the grief. Like I said earlier—a person will do just about anything to keep from looking loss in the face. I’m sure that you have all the answers to these questions. After all, she was born and is still your baby.
She Used to Be Your Baby….
I know I keep reminding you of the fact that Teresa is your baby. It’s funny—when other people’s children are drug addicts, it’s easy to say that they are lost causes. I’ve gone as far as to call them “methheads,” or “zombies.” Assuming she’s on meth, you may not have much of a chance of helping her anyway. It would be really tough for her to crawl out of this hole. She sure can’t do it on her own!
Hey, you remember when she was little, and you dressed her up in all those cute clothes and put her in bows that were as big as her head? You got her ears pierced way too young and carried her around with you everywhere you went. You called her a princess and bought her stupid stuff just because she asked you for it. The Dollar General cart would be level full of crap you knew was going to be broke by the next day, but you didn’t care because your baby wanted it, and what your baby wanted, she was going to get.
And she could do no wrong! Or if she did, you just overlooked it, or laughed at it because she was so darned cute. You clapped for her first step and you praised her when you taught her how to ride a bike. You cried when the bus rode away with her on her first day of kindergarten, and you verbally whipped more than one teacher who gave her less than the grade you thought she earned. You would have fallen in front of a train for her then! So, what changed? Isn’t she still your baby?
Is Love Conditional?
When you told Teresa that you would love her forever, did you forget to say, “Unless you become addicted to something, then you’re not my baby anymore.” Did you really mean it when you said, “Baby girl, your Mama will always have your back,” and “I will always be here for you.”
All of Teresa’s life, I bet you have told her that you would stand by her, no matter what. I don’t have proof of that, but I’m thinking that it’s a reasonable assumption, judging by the look on her face when she got the nerve to call you. She wore that hopeful expression that was an expectation that Mama would live up to her word. But you didn’t, did you? You fell flat on your face, and right in front of the person you need to be standing up for.
Does addiction change who your daughter is in your eyes? Does she suddenly belong to someone else? What if cancer were the demon she was battling? Would you turn your back on your baby then? Would you say, “I’m tired of you calling me every time you need something!”? If our kids can’t call us when they need something, why are we their parents? Isn’t that what parents do? Aren’t we supposed to answer the call, and do all we can for our babies? No matter how old they are, or how addicted they are, if we give birth to them—they are still our babies.
A Mama Ought Not Have to Bury Her Baby
What if it’s not too late? It might be. I don’t know. I sure saw that light die in her eyes. What I do know is that if Teresa was my child, I’d be fighting like hell for her life. I’d turn over Heaven and earth for the answers. I’d go down into the pits of hell and wrestle her away from the devil if I had to. I’m hoping for both of your sakes that you wake up to the reality of what that moment in time may have cost you and fight with everything you’ve got to right that wrong before it’s too late. The next call you get might not be from your baby. It might be about her.
And it’s true. I don’t know what you’ve gone through. I don’t know what it has cost you. Teresa is an addict. But you can’t just let her go. You can’t just let her die. She’s still your baby.