There's no way to describe this tickle I get at the back of my mind sometimes. I'd love to say it's a vision, or that seeing the bat-light shining in the sky over Gotham City I know that my super powers (meager and imaginary as they are) are needed. I'd love to say that I have some knowing or certainty that is like the sound of a battle-horn calling me to duty. I'd love to say I have some kind of second sight, but really, a lot of being psychic is knowing the dates of all twelve signs and the birthstones for every month. None of that is true, but sometimes the back of my mind gets a sensation and I just go with it. Sometimes it's big things that set it off, sometimes they're very small and easy to miss.
A couple of nights ago I saw that someone who is a client (but that I like a great deal and really enjoyed chair-time with) had changed relationship status from "In a relationship" to "single." People change relationship status all the time, sometimes it's a long-married friend who all of a sudden has the little red heart and it says "So and so is married." Or one of my friends will go from "In a relationship" to "It's complicated" and I mind my own business. Facebook relationship hearts have become a way to announce that it's moved into real boyfriend/girlfriend status, or that someone's having a fight, or to officially announce a break-up that may last forever or three days. I have over four hundred and fifty friends on facebook, I don't always see everyone's post, but that night I noticed that little heart change in the feed from someone I didn't know that well, but as I said, liked a lot when we were doing tattoo together.
I sent an IM saying "Your posts look sad, if you need to talk I'm always here." I act that way with people who pull my "mother" strings, and some young people really do. The reply was immediately "I could really use someone to talk to, what's your number?" and I gave it. Those three lines of instant messaging changed the next three days of my life.
It was a bad case of broken-heart. It was a person who is far from their home of origin who needed to cry and have someone listen and care. This is my specialty. My Big Daddy has talked me down from the ledge so many times by helping me see the brighter side, or at least that it's not as bad as it seems right in the moment. I know how to do this, I have a great role model. Immediately the person on the other end of the line becomes "Honey" and I go into full-blown MOM mode.
We talked for a while and the conclusion was that we'd meet for coffee before work, and that of course I have a hug for you if you need one.
What came out in the first three minutes of actual conversation was that not only had there been an ugly breakup, but that it also included an arrest and a night in jail. It was really a story of drug addiction, and their using with each other, and a whole laundry list of drugs and insanity.
I don't really get why it's a laundry list instead of a shopping list, it seems like a like a laundry list would have one item on it:
1. Do the laundry.
I think they should call it a shopping list, because you'd be much more likely to put down twelve or fourteen things if you were headed to the store. Of course I digress, when do I ever follow a straight line when telling you a story?
My friend was 24 hours without cocaine, opiates and other prescription cocktails, a mess, but not really sick yet. I called Super-Michael and without even asking why he just said "OK." when I told him we were going to a meeting that night. We brought my friend to a meeting over in his own town, so he could start to connect with people in his own area, people who could be there in two minutes if he really used the phone list they give all newcomers at meetings.
This is a blog, not a novel, I'll fill in this part with "Then a lot of time and tears went by, and stuff happened." rather than telling every excruciating little detail.
It was apparent by Sunday night that we couldn't let him even drive, much less go back to whatever was waiting for him in his house. When we get clean we need people to help us go through everything we own so there's nothing to find in that moment where recovery is a theory from hours ago, and now that it's the middle of the night and we're alone and terribly sick. We will do whatever drugs we have.
This is why we stick together in packs, because alone there isn't a single one of us who can leave it stashed when the sickness hits.
We took him to our house, and put him on our couch, and he became one of our own.
You've seen heroine withdrawal on TV or in movies, I'm sure of it. It looks pretty bad. It looks like a concerned person sitting with you for a day or two and giving you orange juice and wiping your sweaty brow after you throw up yet again. TV depictions of opiate withdrawal are like Hallmark specials about flowers and bunnies compared to what it's really like to be with someone while they kick those drugs.
It's not like that, it's more like watching someone you care about, through sweat-fogged glass, be tortured in a way that no human should be able to survive. You can listen to the descriptions of fire in all of their veins, and how they know they need to pull all their teeth out; watch them claw at their skin which doesn't fit any more and hold them while they cry. You can even remember your own withdrawal if you've ever gone through one, but you can't touch this evil thing smothering your loved one. They are alone behind its iron clawed, fire-tipped barriers. And they suffer. They suffer in a way that the Spanish Inquisition wishes it could have used for torture, and it doesn't end.
They know it will never end, and you know that it will. You know that you understand what this is like, and they know you couldn't possibly understand. It's ICU in your living room, and you realize that you are really under-qualified for this, but all you have is your own experience, strength and hope to offer, and Gatorade.
We're very fortunate, Michael and I. We have a golden list of phone numbers, hot-lines to heroes who will drop everything and be here now in a situation like this. There is one number, the platinum one at the top of the list. We called, he came, and the three of us did what no one person could ever accomplish.
Here we are, the Mother, the Motivational Speaker and the Drill Sergeant. If this boy lets us, we are NOT going to let him die. Three completely different ways of speaking and acting, one united love for an addict who is still suffering. "How bad do you want it?" "How willing are you to do whatever it takes to get to the other side of this?" "I love you honey, you don't have to do this alone." We are a force of nature, driven and bolstered by a Power Greater Than ourselves. We're living out the chemical version of the apocalypse, the fight between light and dark, life and death.
Two of us go to his house with him, to clean it out and help him pack for a safe, medical detox and the opportunity to do a ninety day residential treatment program.
Tearing through all the hiding places, calling out what is found. "This is what I found, I'm flushing now." I pour bottle after bottle of alcohol down the drain, and the smell of it all fills the tiny space. My hands are sticky, I can't wash them enough. I am full of fire and fear, and gratitude that because I stayed in my seat and did what I was told I will never have to go through this myself again if I don't want to. We cleaned house, packed a few things, fed him a meal, brought him to one place we know where the story of The End of active addiction comes true every day.
72 hours have passed, and now we do all that is left for us to do, we turn him over to a new life if he wants it; if he has the willingness to do what it takes. The three of us hold each other, in gratitude and the Knowing that it's only through the Grace of a Power Greater Than ourselves that we're out here, in this part of the journey, and he's in there taking the first of a thousand steps. We turned him over, and trusted that the Miracle can happen for him as well. We look at each other, the Mother, the Motivational Speaker and the Drill Sergeant and we know that we have escaped the jaws of death, and the only way we get to keep it is to give it away.
Then Michael and I went to class, we made it with maybe five minutes to spare.
Today I am drained beyond belief, maybe how it feels right after you use your adrenaline-fueled super-strength to lift a car off a baby. I am filled with gratitude, and empty of energy, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I would love to say that I'm psychic and knew I was needed when I saw that little red heart that says someone's relationship status has changed, but to be truthful I don't think it was me at all.