Je ne regrette rien

Book Blabber: Dirty By Meredith Maran

Posted in Alcoholism, Book Babble, life, Mental Health by Amy on February 6, 2009

dirtybookI enjoy non-fiction in all types, but particularly enjoy books that introduce concepts or exploration and follow with examples and stories of individual experience to illustrate concepts, inquiries, and argument. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was picking up when I picked up Dirty: A Search Inside America’s Teenage Drug Epidemic By Meredith Maran, but I found it at the library sale and thought that if I didn’t learn anything from it, perhaps I could pass it onto the social worker at my daughter’s school.

Teenage drug use is a subject that hits home for Maran. She reveals that one of her son’s dove deep into drugs in his teenage years. She looks inside the adolescent drug rehabilitation industry, drug courts, and juvenile detention facilities following three drug-using teenagers: Mike, Zalika, and Tristian. The three kids come from different backgrounds, have different dysfunctional familial units, but all find themselves constantly in and out of trouble over drug use. It was an interesting book as you follow the kids. It was also a heartbreaking book.

I don’t understand drug use. Call me a square or lame, but I don’t.

The first time I ever saw pot was when I was covering a band and watched as the bassist smoked pot from an apple. The only reason I was able to see this is because I was backstage watching the show. That was this year. I am thirty-two. Coke, Meth, Crack. None of that registers to me, except from what I have seen on Intervention or Sober House, and I ask my husband questions about drugs all the time. He has his BS in Psychology and worked briefly at a detox center.

I cannot understand what leads someone to use drugs. let alone become extremely dependent on them. From what I have seen, people act like idiots when they are high. They do stupid things. They get into trouble.

What keeps some people from getting involved in drugs and what keeps some people from not? What trigger goes off in a person’s head that leads them to decide that drugs are a place to go? I understand feeling hopeless. I understand feeling despair. Perhaps the thing I don’t understand is feeling.. desperate? I’m not sure. I think about this, though, and think about my children. Will the split custody affect my youngest two badly and will they be likely to turn to drugs, particularly since the one parent that would monitor that will have them less than the parent that needs to be monitored himself?

Or what about the kids I interact with at my daughter’s school every day? What is going to stop them? How many of them are going to be Mikes or Zalikas?

At any rate, an interesting read, leaving me to question one thing:

If AA and NA want people to admit that addiction is a disease – which is medical – why do they expect people to depend on a higher power – which is spiritual – to fix it? Just wondering.

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Bits of Randomness

Elizabeth Wurtzel annoys me. Really, she just does. Right now I am sentenced to reading each of her books and to get through them has been a pain-stakingly difficult process. I just want to tell her to buck up, make better decisions, and quit action like she is the voice of my generation because, dammit, she is not MY voice, nor is she or was she ever the voice of my friends. Excuses, excuses. That is all that I am reading. Someone needed to really hand her a life where she didn’t have the opportunity to make excuses, but had to be busy living so she could survive.  It isn’t that I don’t understand mental health or mental illness or addiction. I DO. It’ s just every book, every essay, and every article is the exact same thing.

Yes, I am over-dosed on Elizabeth Wurtzel at the moment.

Class today was great. The kids were so excited to see me today and gave me a great welcome back. I helped them with geometry, learning about symmetry, and did some correction of English – work on commas. I leave the classroom with a full heart, despite some of the difficulties and problems I witness, I always do. I am excited to go back tomorrow. Tomorrow is creative writing.

I thought it was interesting that the kids were talking about the murder of Wendy Byrne. Half the class is split that the parent’s turned the children in because it was the right thing to do, the other half believed the parents were sick of dealing with the children and didn’t want them anymore so that is why they turned them in. I think that is interesting, though I am too tired to look at what that really means. Another interesting thing happened today. My daughter came up to give me a hug and one of her classmates that has taken a particular shining towards me asked, “Do you guys do that a lot? Hug?” I told him that yes we do. He then told me that his family doesn’t. That broke my heart. I told him that my family wasn’t very affectionate either, which is why I make sure I am affectionate with my children.  I told him that he would have to make sure he did that with his kids. He said he was never going to have kids, not with how crazy the world was. I thought that was very astute from a nine year old, and a bit sad, too.

I am reading a book on human trafficking written by  Linda Smith, who served in the U.S House of Representatives for Washington state, and founded of Shared Hope, International. Shared Hope, International is an organization founded to fight human trafficking, being inspired by a trip to India and seeing young girls caged up and sold for sex. Her organization has done a lot of work. In reading the book, a short little number, it is difficult not to cringe as she describes what she has seen. If you can get past the calling-from-God-isms that she writes about here and there in the book, I suggest going to the Shared Hope website and request your free copy. More needs to be done. I am currently reading more about human trafficking in the United States, particularly in Louisiana, and the things that I am learning – it is disgusting that people are treated this way.

My daughter was very sweet tonight and left a card on my bed for me. It was a thank you card and inside she wrote:

“Mom, Thank you for loving me so much and everything you do from cheering me up to making me smile. I love you like a puppy and will take care of you every day. Love E”

I totally needed that tonight, as I was a tad bit cranky. I have the best daughter. I really do.

Stealing Sleep

Posted in 100 Things, Alcoholism, Crime, life, new orleans by Amy on January 24, 2009

sleep3For a very long time, months after I left my ex-husband, I could not sleep. I would nap for an hour or two, wake up, put effort into getting tired once more, then sleep for another few hours. The first good night of sleep that I had in probably a year was the first time my current husband spent the night at my house, me camped out on the floor, falling asleep during a movie, him on the couch, hanging around to make sure I was ok until he fell asleep himself.  That night of sleep felt so good. I remember waking up the next day, actually feeling rested. I felt safe with him there, secure, and I knew that thoughts that chased sleep away for me were now being chased away by him, whether he knew it or not.

We had this silly routine at first – stuck in that weird little stage at the beginning of every relationship that spawns from friendship, when we were dating, kind of, maybe, not for sure, but I think so – where he would come over to my house to have supper and watch a movie or a television show that we both liked.

“You don’t mind if I lay down while we watch this do you?”

“No,” he would say, “That’s fine.”

“Just to warn you, I might fall asleep.”

“You don’t mind if I hang out here a while, do you?”

“No! That’s fine.”

And eventually I would fall asleep and he would fall asleep. Gradually we made it to sleeping next to one another, cuddling.

Then things took a turn. He began self-medicating with alcohol and we didn’t sleep anymore. He passed out, I would dance a line between sleep and consciousness, worried about him, and what would happen or what he would do while I allowed myself the freedom to rest.  This went on much longer than I would have liked, too long, but eventually the self-medication faded away and sleep found me again.

Except for times like tonight.

My mind is awake, thinking about this city, wondering about what is happening out there when the lights are down and the world has gone quiet, except Bourbon St. Lately there has been a lot of senseless acts of violence, and it frightens me. Being from a small town, I’m not used to this, not that I think I would ever want to get used to it. So sleep escapes tonight, and my mind thinks of the lives that have been lost that didn’t need to be.  I wonder what I can do to help foster change? What can I do to make this city that I do love genuinely safer for my daughter and myself. Is there anything that I can really do, aside let my voice be heard?

The net of my husband’s arms around me cannot capture sleep on a night like tonight. A night when I probably need sleep the most.