Sami, What Do You Think About Addicts?

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Good question internet people. Good question indeed. First, let me ask you something: when you think of an addict do you think of loving, hard working, strong women like my mothers pictured above? Probably not. Do you think of people who get up and go to work every day as a managerial team? Do you think of people who would give the shirt off their backs to anyone they met? Probably not, because society presents an addict as someone who lives for nothing besides the next high, someone lazy who uses those around them, and someone who deserves to die. I have a serious issue with that.

My city is currently plagued with heroin use. In the last seventy two hours, TWELVE people have overdosed, with one dead, and another on life support. The girl on life support is only eighteen years old. The people in my community have been very vocal about what they are feeling towards the dealer(s), users, and anyone else involved. For the most part there is an outcry to send people after the dealer. Totally, get that person off the street. On the other side of things, the thing that is breaking my heart, there are people shouting their hatred for the addicts. Now, I get it. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry for a long time even at my parents. How could they chose drugs? How could they become so sick that they’d have to die to stop the addiction? Well… there is no easy answer. These people spilling anger out into the public, have every right to feel anger. These are people afraid for those around them, afraid for their parents, children, friends… these are people who have no idea how to help those around them, and are putting up a wall to keep themselves safe. I have the utmost respect for their feelings, but I can’t help but feel serious sympathy for the addicts and their families who are being forced to see the hatred directed at their loved ones who are on the brink of death, or already dead.

Drugs change your brain chemistry. One taste of a serious chemical can hook you. It’s not always as easy as just stopping. Most addicts don’t even recognize their own addiction until it’s too late. “I feel great!” “I just need a little extra energy today!” “Just one more time!” That’s not the person talking, that’s the drugs, and it’s a tragedy. If these addicts don’t know they need help, or can’t admit it, they won’t be able to receive help, and that’s another tragedy. You might ask, “Okay Sami, but they still decided to try drugs in the first place. It’s their own fault right?” Yeah, I struggled with that question the longest. My first instinct was always to agree, and it fueled a lot of anger for me, but then I asked myself… what led up to making that decision? Was it ignorance? “I’ll just try it this once with my friends. I’m sure once won’t hurt.” Was it depression? “I just want this pain to go away, my life is truly that miserable, maybe this will help.” Was it a cry for help? Was it an accident? Oh what, it can’t be an accident, it’s always a choice! Well…

My mothers both had serious medical conditions. They were PRESCRIBED the drugs they were addicted to. Then, they were prescribed more drugs be a certain doctor that I’d like to have fired. Then, those drugs called to them. It made their pain, mental and physical, go away. It helped take away their sense of responsibility. It made them feel good. Addiction took a bite out of them like a literal monster and didn’t let go until the day(s) that they died. Do I WISH they had enough control to stop? That they could have resisted their impulses to pop another pill? Of course I do… But, I don’t know that they could have.

So here’s something that might shock some of you… I, too, am an addict. Let me explain for a minute before you judge the heck out of me. After my C-section they gave me percocet. Within a week I was mostly healed, I didn’t need the pills, and I gave them up, because at the time I was a happy new mom who could totally get through the little bit of pain to be the best mom I could be for my son. Well, a year later my back started killing me. Someone close offered me percocet, and I took them. And took them. And kept taking them. I’d take them at night, and the thoughts in my head wouldn’t go around in circles any more. I could relax and fall asleep. I’d take them in the morning, and everyone around me was a little bit less scary. My anxiety would go away… One night, after an especially stressful day, I thought to myself, “Damn, I really need another pill.” And that’s the same night I flushed what I had left, because I realized I had become an addict and needed to stop. I didn’t WANT to be an addict, I didn’t want to abuse pills, and I didn’t think I’d ever get to that point. I naturally have an addictive and obsessive personality. I can’t drink or take pain pills without forming an addiction. That experience gave me a new perspective to look at other addicts through. If I, someone fiercely opposed to using drugs, can become an addict, literally anyone can.

So, to be honest, I don’t have any real answers for you today. I asked more than I answered in fact. I ask you to take a step back before you point the blame and hate at people with an addiction. Think about their family witnessing your words. Think about the hurt they are already feeling. Think about the pain that’s already in the world… instead, spread some love.

 

YOU ARE LOVED.

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Love Shouldn’t Have to be Won

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In 2009 my mothers passed away. On June 26, 2015 gay marriage was legalized, forever too late. From the time I was four, when my biological mother and father got a divorce and my mum started dating another woman, I knew three things: some people hated lesbians, my moms couldn’t get married, and this woman was my other mother.

Somehow, I never questioned their love, or how my mother could love another woman. Even at four years of age, I grasped that love was love. The important thing was that I had a parent who cared for me, taught me things my biological parents couldn’t, and accepted me as her own. I remember once, when I was in Kindergarten, that an older girl on the playground once told me my parents were disgusting because they were lesbians. I went home and asked my moms what she had meant. I didn’t understand how two people in love, who loved me, could ever be disgusting or wrong.

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For a heterosexual couple in 1999, dating and getting married was just what happened. No one questioned it, and no one thought of it as wrong. That marriage allotted them privileges that weren’t available to homosexual couples. Unlike a stepfather, my other mother couldn’t adopt me. She had no legal right to me. My mothers couldn’t get married and my biological mum couldn’t take my other mom’s last name, nor could I. My mum had many health problems and Ramona, my other mother, didn’t have the ability to walk in and say, “I’m her spouse, I have a right to see her, and I can make the decisions for her care.” No heterosexual couple goes through these problems. These basic rights -things that should be based on true love instead of religion and politics- were kept from my mothers, and the results were devastating for our family.

At the time, Vermont had already legalized gay marriage. Both of my moms loved visiting Vermont, often doing so while I was at visitations with my father, and desired to move there. Legally, because of me, they weren’t able to. My father had partial custody of me, and the law said I couldn’t be moved that far away. Despite how much my other mother loved me, not being able to move and live her life happily caused resentment for me to grow inside of her. I found this out slowly, but surely.

I’ve been asked how I can still love, forgive, and think so highly of them despite knowing how they resented me. I never felt the need to ask myself this question, but now that I’ve found love I have an answer. The first few years that I was dating my fiance we were unable to see each other regularly. We were kids, but our love was and seven years later still is strong.The fact that I had to get up each morning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him, touch him, or publicly show my deep love for him hurt, yet I knew that one day I would be able to marry, move in with, and create a child with him without any law or prejudice stopping me. If that pain didn’t have the light to keep us going, and if everyone around me had no problem receiving those things while I didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I’d be miserable and no where near as kind to the people around me. My mothers felt that pain constantly for ten years. For seven of those years, I had no idea.

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With all the issues they faced, both of my moms became very depressed. Our family physician at the time prescribed them both high doses of antidepressants. Unfortunately, these drugs didn’t mix well with the medication each of them were on; my other mother was on medication for epilepsy and my mum was on pain and anti-anxiety medications. The toxic mix of high potency drugs led to a dependency when I was in the sixth grade and only eleven years old. As they became more addicted, with me around during their stupors, I learned of their inner pain and resentment towards me. It was a rough time for all of us. My other mother’s parents were very homophobic and had made her feel crazy as a youth, going so far as to institutionalize her during her senior year of high school in an attempt to “make her straight.” With that, the inability to marry her true love, and the hatred our society showered her with led to an overdose and the end of her life.  Two months and two days later my mum, in a rehabilitation center, also passed. Our family truly believes that once her love died she just gave up to move on to the afterlife with her. How did we get to the point where dying is preferable to living?

We have made progress. Through rallies, education, celebrities using their privilege to speak out, and by electing a supportive president we have gotten this country on the right track. We aren’t, however, finished. Forty percent of homeless youth are part of the LGBT community. Thirty-three percent of LGBT students attempt suicide. These numbers are so high, and that’s because we are not yet part of a society that wholeheartedly accepts who people love. The day after gay marriage was legalized, my other mother’s mom posted on her facebook wall a message protesting it. Even after her own daughter died because of that hate, she still posted such an ignorant and disrespectful thing. There is more we need to do to turn this world into a place where love is understood. You can tell me that we’ll never get there, that people are entitled to their religious beliefs, and that hate will always exist. I disagree. No one is entitled to hate, or bully, another human being because of what they may or may not believe.

So, as happy and grateful as I am for gay marriage now being legal nationwide, and the shift society has taken towards less hate and more acceptance, I am angry. I’m angry that because of prejudice, because someone at some point decided they could tell us all what love was, and that love between the same sex was wrong, my parents had to leave me so soon. I’m angry that they didn’t have the chance to give me the love they wanted to, because in the back of their mind there was always that resentment. I’m angry that my son won’t be able to meet his grandmothers. I’m angry they never saw me graduate, won’t be able to dance with me at my wedding, and I’ll never be able to go to theirs. I’m angry that if only love had won sooner, or rightfully didn’t need to be won in the first place, my mothers would be here today, legally married, with the rights of every heterosexual couple, and finally happy. Love shouldn’t have to be won.

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