I realize I am living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the last year. When loved ones in addiction take off and don’t return with no contact, whether one day or many, you begin experiencing anxiety. When they drive off in a sober moment while in active addiction, you panic.
Months ago, I pulled up to the parking garage where the car was left behind. I walked to every business in the vicinity, asking if anyone saw my daughter. I begged to look at outdoor cameras. Being denied without a warrant was frustrating. Finally, the police reviewed one camera, and from what they saw, began a missing person report.
Welcome to life in addiction.
The scene above seems like something out of a movie. Maybe a story we hear from a stranger on a stage. Their story is foreign. “It happens to someone else, not me.” Then one day, you blink, and it happens to you. You are reaching for distant hope, holding on to lost dreams, and living your worst nightmare.
Millions of people are involved in addiction. Yet, behind those faces are loved ones broken by loss and grief for someone still living. It is an odd place to be that those on the outside cannot comprehend. Expressing my pain in their addiction felt wrong. Knowing how entangled my loved ones’ were in substance use, I was not too fond of any sympathy or attention.
Fear sets in when the phone rings. Enjoying a day at the park can quickly turn into a mood swing in despair. When you know where they are, you wonder if they are sober. When you don’t know where they are, you wonder if they are alive.
Now that my daughter has picked up her car, emotions intensify.
The last time in that car, she left it, ran, then disappeared; three weeks later, she flew away to treatment. The seven months since are filled with growth and relapse.
I am a mother experiencing a vast array of emotions while living in a peaceful state of being. Does that make sense to anyone out there? I swear, sitting here alone writing, it makes no sense to me. I spend my days letting go of things I cannot control. Every day, when a thought arises about addiction, I have to surrender and turn it over.
Some days I succeed; other days, I fail.
Watching as my beautiful girl drove off once again was difficult. But, today, her story is bright and hopeful. I am learning to accept the reality of substance use disorder. It takes one moment for promising to give way to evil, and it takes one moment for bad to inspire a change for the good. That is the bottom line. There are no guarantees. They fight daily in a battle I will never fully understand. I remain conflicted on the outside looking in. However, we are in the same arena, together. No matter what.