Atlas & Alice | Issue 3, Spring 2015
relationships, harder and harder drugs, running from place to place without a stable home or education to stand on, I floundered for many years until I came into recovery. Miraculous as it is, I am still clean, despite Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and manic depression that developed over my childhood and into my addiction. But now, I cannot deny that something deeper had a hold of me long before I picked up a drug, and perhaps long before the abuse or the mental illness. Perhaps I had been steered toward obsessive behaviors and decisions and people before I ever had a choice. I think it’s very possible. I remember a time I used to walk 1 mile for a package of Hostess Cupcakes. I read a book a day for many years, even between classes in middle school and even in class while the teacher spoke. It was as if I couldn’t live without the books, the cupcakes. Later, when I fell in the love with the boy next door, I couldn’t live without him either and we met late at night when my mother was sleeping, creeping out the front window and talking on the lawn. I took crazy risks to be with people, fearful they wouldn’t like me if I didn’t do what they wanted. I tried to be like everyone else, and gave up my identity at a moment’s notice. If some boy showed interest in me, I accepted it open handed, as if I had nothing of myself left. And then, I abandoned myself completely and the drugs took hold. I don’t want this for my daughter. I feel an instinctive fear, a growling urge to keep her in the house, to lock her away from anything she might enjoy, like Rapunzel in a tower. But, like any good fairy tale, there is a lesson to be learned – I know that no matter what I try to do, fate will have its way, and perhaps the disease will have its way, too. I can’t tell. I struggle with the idea of telling her about what addiction is, what it means. If I had to draw a family tree, she would see alcoholics on both sides of her family, addictions everywhere. How can I tell her the truth, that she is at risk for something as deadly as cancer, and possibly as inescapable as cystic fibrosis? The disease will kill her if left untreated. I’ve been to a dozen funerals, and heard of dozens more. People die – young people die – every day from this disease and yet, I struggle with the decision to tell her. Will that create a selffulfilling prophecy, or can I protect her by taking her to meetings with me, surrounding her with people in recovery and destroying the illusion that drugs and alcohol are harmless for her? I don’t know. There is a part of me that wants to expose her to the truth now, but she’s so young I doubt it would penetrate. I want to build a wall against the coming tide. I want her to be safe. At the end of my addiction I was selling my body and using night and day. That’s what addiction did to me, and if I had continued I would be dead. I know I am living on borrowed time, but is she? I am doing my best to save her, but I am left to wonder. Is there anything I can do?
Issue 3 | Spring 2015