My subject matter seems to sway back and forth between addiction and atheism… Apologies for that. I thought about separating the subject into two blogs, but I’d rather not do that, since atheism and skepticism is an integral part of who I am, how I perceive the world and myself in it, and how I’ve approached sobriety. So for me, the topics are intertwined. Posts may not be though, so I’ll continue swinging this pendulum for a while.
I was having a smoke break yesterday afternoon, at around 3PM. For once I was the only one there, but not for long. Along came an Indian girl, looking anxious and edgy, with her single match that she couldn’t seem to strike, so after about the third time peering nervously at me, she asked if she could borrow my lighter.
Then the odd conversation ensued. “I don’t (normally?) smoke, she said.” “So why are you smoking now then?”, I asked. And she replied that it was due to stress. So I made a comment about addiction, and that I quit my more serious addiction, but never got around to quitting the cigarettes, and that my former addiction was crystal meth.
“So how did you manage to stop?” was her first response… Huge red flag. Nobody asks that, at least… almost nobody. FYI, if you’re an addict and lying about it, the one sure way to give away the lie to a former addict is to ask them how they stopped. It’s a question that doesn’t occur to people who haven’t struggled with addiction themselves. It might come up from someone who knows you a little, but if that’s the first thing you say, well – you might as well announce your addiction.
Anyway, there isn’t a short answer to that question, so I mumbled something about motivation. (The proper answer involves telling the whole story, or most of it, leading to where I was and exactly how it felt, and what that motivation was. It’s not something I can answer in one sentence.)
She told me a lie… that her ex husband uses meth. It’s a lie I used to tell – that my ex used and I didn’t.
I feel bad for her – I really do. I mentioned to her that my son was taken away, how long I have been clean, and that I did get him back… also that I’ve had him back for over a year now. Then I found out the source of her stress. She has three children, but they are “not staying with me. They’re with my ex.” (The same ex who uses meth? This does not make sense.) And it was her daughter’s third birthday yesterday.
That’s harsh. I know how it is. Josh wasn’t living with me for his third birthday (and his second, his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh). Although I did get to see him, it’s not the same. Seeing your child when when they have been removed from you is quite different to being there for them when you are the one raising them. So shortly after that, I cut the conversation, said I needed to get back to work, and wished her luck.
Of course I got Josh back, and he was with me for his eighth birthday, and he will be with me for the rest of his childhood, but I am the exception. To lose all three children, when you’re the mother… chances are you will never get them back. You have to fuck up really badly to lose your children to their father, because normally mothers get custody by default.
I did tell her that I got him back, and that recovery is difficult, but possible. There’s always hope, and maybe I gave her some. It’s difficult to know what to say in such situations. I hope she will be OK. At least she can be clean and have a relationship with her children. But it’s hard to pity a woman who could let it go that far, lose custody of all three children. It’s sad.
So if you’re an addict, know where your addiction can lead. There are lines that should not be crossed, points where you can lose much that you will never be able to get back, like the girl I met yesterday. Don’t let it go that far.