Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Height of Absurdity

This is an excerpt from my current writing Work in Progress which is entitled "High". It describes my experiences with people I love who are addicts ( in this case Bryan, who is on this date unhappy in rehab). *Names have been changed to protect them...

Oct 25-26, 2012 - The Height of Absurdity

In the middle of a personal life that leaves me feeling like a dazed, bruised, and losing prizefighter, I have to move around in the everyday world where everyone else lives and functions. This means I have to set my mangled heart on a shelf somewhere, and make a brave attempt at navigating a regular life, that in comparison to the one I am describing in this book, can seem absurd in itself.

Nevertheless, I am (or at least can be) a strong, capable woman right? So I set this morning’s alarm for 5:00 a.m., leave the house by 6:30 and pick up my companion for the day at a quarter of seven. She is a crazy, delight of a woman who I have hired to help me in a part of my job you couldn’t guess if you tried. Okay, I’ll just tell you and we’ll get the finger-pointing and giggling over with right off the bat. I do drug screening and breath-alcohol testing as part of my job managing a staffing agency. And no, with all that equipment at my fingertips, I never once asked my son to submit to a test. I know. It’s absurd. And it gets worse.

The upside of trying to make it as a normal person today is that my passenger, and roommate for the night, is one of the single most hilarious women on the planet. She can talk faster than any human I have ever known, and regales me with a long string of deliriously, deliciously crazy family members’ stories.

We swap anecdotes until we both have to cross our legs to keep from…well, you know…and that is a trick while I am driving, let me tell you! In what feels like seconds, it’s three-and-a-half hours later and we are at our hotel, unpacked, caffeine-charged, and entering the conference room.

All day long, stories are told that I won’t relate here as they all involve the privacy, and urine, of the not-to-be-named, but the important point is we had a blast! We laughed till we cried, did mock testing on each other in ridiculously bizarre role plays and learned of the many creative excuses for and ways of beating a positive drug test. Enough said. For now.

It’s amazing we can stop laughing long enough to go to sleep, but we do.

The next day is more of the same. At one point, Trixie*, whose research had taught her that a certain Zinc-something in Fixodent could render a drug screen negative, decides to experiment further. She takes a big ol’ swig of the stuff and… (I’ m already laughing so hard that if I wasn’t typing it, you’d never hear this story)…She. Cannot. Swallow. Seriously, the stuff sticks to her teeth, her tongue and will NOT go down her throat. She tries to no avail to talk, and even sticks objects on her tongue while it’s lolling out of her mouth to prove her theory. It takes hours for her to clear her mouth of the stuff. (Aside to reader: next time I attend training with Trixie, I’m wearing Depends!)

When the training is over, we drive home in a fit of hilarity that is at once exhausting and healing. I drop her off just as my phone rings. It’s my daughter, Katie. The second sentence out of her mouth is “How’s Bryan?” It’s like taking an unexpected punch to the gut. I have spent two days laughing, having fun and not thinking, even one time, about Bryan. What is wrong with me? It’s the heighth of absurdity that I can think to try to enjoy myself while my son suffers.

I haven’t even remembered to say a prayer today for him. What if he relapses because I haven’t been at my post? I feel ashamed. Scared. Sorry. Worthless. What kind of mother can do things like this? I stay awake most of the night imaging scenarios Bryan might be finding himself in (and not telling me about because of the no-family-contact boundary currently in place). Like a virtual self-flagellation, I beat myself up in every possible way for every hint of every smile I’ve had today. And for every time I ever yelled at him, or ignored him, or did something I realize now should have been done differently.

I am a mother of a beautiful son, and once again, I have failed him. I know. It’s absurd to hold myself so totally accountable. If I had that much control, I could have made him sober. At the same time, it feels absurd to feel any kind of success as a mother when a child fights this gigantic a Goliath without me. I feel like I’m naked on a stage, all my flaws and flab exposed to the spotlight of an audience pointing accusing fingers at me. I hope they start throwing stones.

And I also hope they don’t.


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