My first child was the first grandchild in the family, she was doted on and cooed over by the grandparent and other family members.
The next grandchild, one year later, was our nephew, the first boy child and equally doted on. The first boy to carry on the family name was welcomed royally into the family.
Our second daughter was just a few days younger than her boy cousin and was kind of overshadowed by the new little boy and her one year old sister.
Move on two years and we were surprised by twin girls. This was definitely another first in the family and they were made much of by all the relatives, the arrival of twins was somewhat of a novelty.
Our second daughter never really found her place in the family unit as her older sister was very mature and liked nothing better than to sit with the adults emulate her audience. The younger daughter liked to be cuddled by mom and was a bit jealous of others claiming my attention. Once the twins came along, cuddle time was at a premium with four children in three years. The twin girls didn’t need company, they had each other so the middle child started to distance herself and got attention by being destructive and moody.
This bad start to life always made our middle child feel resentful, especially when she started school and was compared, rather unfavourably, to her older sister. Why do teachers assume that sisters should have the same capacity to learn?
School was never a good place for this child and finding friends was not easy as she never had the confidence in herself to put herself “out there”. As she grew into her teenage years things didn’t improve and she drifted into several relationships with other girls who didn’t seem to fit in with the crowd. Her relationship in the family never improved either and she always seemed to resent the family unit and tried to distance herself from it.
Eventually she drifted into Marijuana use and became more and more distant from the family. We tried family counselling but it did no good, our daughter set herself up with her family as her enemy. As she matured into late teens she turned into a real beauty and finally got the confidence she had always lacked, for several years she enjoyed life and had a great long term relationship with a lovely guy.
I’m not sure what went wrong but she started to distance herself from her partner and drifted into another relationship with a different guy, she seemed to settle down and they had two lovely children together.
Things started to sour again and she turned to harder drugs, her partner left and the drug dealer became her new partner. In the course of three years she was reduced to a wreck, had lost her children, who now lived with their father, cut herself off almost entirely from her family and was forced into prostitution to pay for her drug habit.
This was the infant I had held in my arms and promised to protect, the little girl who was lonely at school because she didn’t fit in, the beautiful teenager who seemed to have found herself, only to lose herself again. What had we done wrong as parents to lose our daughter to this life, what could we do to get her out of it?
For several years we had been bailing her out of trouble by paying her rent and her debts, buying her food and keeping her car on the road. We decided to stop enabling her behaviour, maybe if we stopped providing money, she would come back home and get clean.
The next phone call for money, I told her we would not support her any longer, but she could come home and we would look after her. After some swearing and name calling, she hung up on me. I knelt at the side of my bed and told God that she was in his hands now as I had failed and couldn’t look after her any longer.
The next morning we were given the news that she was in hospital. Because she could not pay her debts to the drug dealing boyfriend, he had threatened her with a gun and she had jumped from a second floor window to escape. She had broken her back in several places, her arm and much internal damage.
Several months of being in a body cast, flat on her back for much of the time and being lovingly cared for by her elder sister, and she had managed to get clean of the drugs. We rejoiced in her new found life, she was living with her older sister still and had got her children back. She went back to work and eventually got herself settled into her own home. Several years later, she met and married her present partner and she seems settled.
For fifteen years my daughter has managed to stay free of narcotics, she still has issues with her family and still feels she is not wanted and is not as important to me as her sisters. No amount of being told she is loved can make her feel this is true, however she is living the best life she can manage and that is really all I can ask of God.
My daughter was into drugs before Fentanyl came along, her drugs of choice were Heroin and Cocaine. However, my heart goes out to all those mothers who have been tying purple ribbons to the downtown trees. They have lost their sons and daughters completely and no longer have a chance to get clean. God saved my daughter and, hopefully, she will live a long and healthy life, but I do know the nightmare these parents have lived and will continue living for the rest of their lives.
What starts our kids down this path to destruction? What can a parent do to change the attitude and outcome of drug addicted children? To many people it is just a recreational drug that was laced with something lethal, to others it means life and death to get their next fix.
Meanwhile parents cry themselves to sleep at night and pray for an answer. Will it ever come?