I sent this letter to my daughter last week. Yesterday she called and said she will carry it with her always and if she ever wants to use again, she will read this letter:
You asked me to write an “effect” letter, so I will. I would rather not though, just so you know.
When I think of you, it is always an aggregate of your life. I never see the snapshot of who you may be at that particular moment. So, although you may have been standing in front of me, strung out and insane, I see that, but I also see the beautiful little girl with the platinum blonde hair - laughing, playing, and being incredibly funny, sensitive, intelligent, willful, and strong.
I can’t help but wonder what demons there are that force you to live the life you have. It is a life of pain. I know there have been moments of joy for you, but mostly, I think you have chosen the most painful route. The route of escape from your demons - and the route straight into the arms of more atrocities that just perpetuate the cycle. I wonder if some of this is from being the daughter of a person who was fighting her own demons, just when she should have been fully attentive to the needs of her kids. That is very painful for me. I know it has been painful for you.
I have always tried to remember that you are doing the best you can - however inadequate that may be. I always tried to remember that you are not doing this “to me”, you are just living your life the best way you can.
Your drug addiction has effected our entire family. We can’t help that. We all love you. For the last few years, there is always a hole in any event. Either you are there and we wish you weren’t... or you aren’t there and we wish you were. That is an awful way to feel about someone you love.
Your teenage years were hell. At first I wanted to blame the other kids you were hanging around with (like Kristy whatever her name was), but after a while, I realized that you were the common denominator in all these situations and that you were probably the bad influence on them.
I just can’t catalog all the nights waiting for you to come home. All the police reports to get you on record as a runaway. All the stuff.
I will use a couple of examples.
One night, the phone rang at midnight. It was the Denver Police. They said they had found you in a motel room with a couple of crack dealers. They asked if there was any reason to hold you. I said “start with the fact that she’s 15 years old!” I asked them to just hang on to you long enough for me to get to 11th and Broadway, 15 or 20 minutes. I hurriedly threw on clothes, but the phone rang again just as I was walking out the door. It was the police. They told me to forget it, you had just run away.
I went into your bedroom in that sweet little apartment at 35th and Wadsworth, and sat on the floor and cried. I was so full of despair. I didn’t know how we could possibly get through this. I didn’t know how you could possibly live through the dangerous situations you were constantly putting yourself in. I didn’t know how I could live if you died. I was picturing all the horrible things that could happen to you, and indeed probably did happen to you. You were my little girl. Still, no matter what, still you were my daughter, my girl. The one with the shining blonde hair and the crazy wonderful sense of humor. The person who probably understands me better than anyone else on earth. I thought, and still do, that you could accomplish anything you wanted to. You have such a will. Such a power. Such a positive impact on people... and you were throwing these things away. Even using these very assets for your own destruction.
But that night, sitting on the floor of your bedroom, I feel that God answered my prayer and I just knew that “where there is life, there is hope.” And as long as you were alive, there would be hope for you. You were not too big of a project for God. But it would have to be in God’s time, and some people have to die from their addictions, and maybe you would be one, but as long as you were alive, there was hope.
I went to Alanon for a while and read their literature. It was helpful to me. I realized that I had to live my life the best I could no matter what you were doing. It wasn’t easy, but I did try, and I think I was mostly successful.
One other example. We were living in the house in North Denver after you had gotten out of Residential Treatment. I was heart broken that you went right back to drugs and creepy people. I was also heart broken that you stayed out all night and then came home in the daytime after you knew I had left for work. You were at my house all day, and I don’t know who all was there with you. You would cook, and eat my food, and not clean up. And leave before I got home from work.
One day I got home from work and you were not there (no surprise there), but your bedroom door had a hole smashed in it. There was blood all over the door, and on the carpet and on your bed. I didn’t hear from you for a couple of days after that. I was scared to death. I had no idea what had happened. When I finally did talk to you, I told you how frightened I was, and you were so cavalier about it. I don’t know why I would have expected more, but I did.
The hopes over the years might be the most painful part. I thought when you had your first child you were going to be OK. By the time you had your second beautiful daughter, I was pretty sure you and Bob were going to be just fine. And then, my worst nightmare, you both were using again. This was like multiplying the tragedy at least 10 fold. Now you had those poor babies.
I will just say one more thing about me. I have lived my entire life in the shadow of alcoholism and drug addiction. My father and mother were alcoholics. They both got sober in 1965 and our family had some good years before my mother died. I always had the fear that my father would drink again, and he did. On July 15, 1975 my father started drinking again and never was able to stop until he died in 1993. His drunkenness was a horrible, horrible thing. I try to focus on the many wonderful things about my father because it is important for me to remember that, but I grew up in an awful home and I am clear on that.
Most of the relationships in my life have been effected by alcohol. Even after I got sober, most of the people I have associated with have been alcoholics and a large percentage of them have gone back to their drunken lives.... even my best friend (who took me to my first AA meeting). I sometimes feel like the last one standing, and it is a very unpleasant thing.
I am hard-wired to fear and hate the disease. I try not to. But so much devastation follows it. I know that when you are in your addiction, you can not see or care how you are impacting others.
When I came to visit you last week, the minute I saw you, I wanted to run away. Whatever is happening there is working. I do not want to insinuate myself into the process, I just pray that whatever is working will continue to work. I can see that something very powerful has happened to you. I want your recovery more than anything in this world.
I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. You would see a beautiful woman who is worthy of a good life. The best life. A sober and clean life. A life lived hand in hand with a loving God.
Please let it happen.
I love you,