4.12.2010

Crack whore



People say that in some ways, having kids is a good thing when your life falls apart. Being a parent forces you to get up, make breakfast for somebody (even if you don’t feel like eating), and depending on their age, may get you out of the house, encourage you to keep a schedule, or give you built-in friends through your kid’s relationships, school, and other activities.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to parent when you’re grieving. But having a dependent CAN be a force that keeps you going, reminds you that life goes on (even when it totally sucks), and provides you with motivating moments of surprise and joy when your own mind can’t find any. Because a child’s needs are non-negotiable, caring for one (or more) serves as a kind of discipline in a world where few of us value that quality.

Even if you feel unloved because your partner has died, your child looks at you with absolute love. You are reminded of this powerful and universal force, and that you do still have a heart that pumps even when bruised, behind the sucking chest wound of need that you feel you’ve become. (At least, that was how I felt at times.)

When I went to my young widows and widowers support group every week, I’d get congratulated on accomplishing, at least, the job of taking care of myself and my child for the past seven days. "But I’m not getting anything done," I’d whine. “It counts!,” my cheerleaders would insist, sitting on overstuffed chintz loveseats at the seniors’ home.

I laughed disrespectfully at these, nearly my only supporters, who thought I deserved credit for these minor acts. “It doesn’t count,” I’d say. “I mean, I love her, but I have to do it. What choice do I have? To become a crack whore?” I didn’t think I could possibly get any lower-functioning.

I’m an asshole, even to myself, sometimes.

I told this story to another of my supporters, someone who knows me pretty well.

“And where, exactly, do you think actual crack whores come from?,” she said.

Uhhhh………… there were some little lights going on in my head. God doesn’t make any crack whores. I have heard stories, on the street, in fiction, in documentary, of downward spirals. Many did start with some kind of death or catastrophic loss, fire, accident, or illness. What does happen to people when they lose their whole life? Are those people – the homeless, nutjobs, the lost – fundamentally different from me? Broken, sleepwalking, lazy me?

I thought about hard drugs, which I really only know from movies. Drugstore Cowboy. Trainspotting. What a delight it would be to let go of the pressure, the duty, the responsibilities. The mortgage, the lawyer, the mother-in-law. There was a baby in Trainspotting. Crack whores have kids, too. They could be women my age, with my background, my talents, my storyline, even my child.

There but for the grace of God go I, I thought. And I started to gain a little compassion for my own sad self, living this life, using all my tools to stay afloat. Even if life is pass/fail, I would take credit for getting through.


* * * I'd be honored to hear your response in a comment or through other connection (Facebook, Twitter, Formspring, at right) * * *

5 comments:

letterstoelias said...

So well put, as usual Supa. I've oft felt the same.

I didn't find a support group in my community, but when friends and family would say to me, "You're so strong!" I'd laugh and tell them they should come by some time at about 2am and see how strong I look.

It has been at times enticing to turn to some unnatural substance as an attempt to 'escape', but I knew it wouldn't work for me.

I slowly started to discover that the way I was functioning (no matter how minimally) was, in fact, a choice. And, that it took at least a certain amount of strength to make that choice.

You don't know how strong you are, until you need to be strong.

~C~

Heather said...

We didn't have kids so I had to find another reason to get out of bed in the morning after James died. Luckily for me, it's hard to stay hidden under the covers when you have a 25 lb. dog jumping on and off your bladder and licking your eyelids because he wants to go out.

I have never been a drug-user and I am allergic to alcohol. People say to me that it must really suck not being able to drink. I honestly think it has saved my life for the last 26 months. I have to admit there have been times when turning to an illegal substance has been mighty tempting. But if I OD, who's going to take care of my dogs?

I still have people tell me how strong I am. My response to that is "what choice do I have?" Quite frankly, I would love to be able to take a break from having to be strong and doing everything myself.

(p.s. I've never really thought about where crack whores come from either).

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

C and Heather, yeah, "strong," it's been griped about so much but I might have to do a post. I used to say, "it must feel great to be weak, to let go for a moment," but no one understood what I was talking about unless they were in the Club.

Heather, yes, I've heard dogs work great, especially for that critical morning bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Hugs to you both!

hourbeforedawn said...

I can SO relate to this. A couple months before her dad took his life, my 16-year-old stepdaughter initiated a conversation with us about why people turn to hard drugs. She was worried about a friend at school who had started using. I felt like every answer we gave her was inadequate at best. Waiting outside ICU at the hospital the night Mike died, I recalled that conversation. And I have to tell you, those first couple of days, if someone had offered me crack or heroine or pretty much anything that would stop the pain... I'd have been tempted.

Six weeks later I'm really, really tired of being 'strong' and sometimes I just want to lie down and give up, just be weak and fall apart and damn the consequences.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

HBD,

Honey, I'm so sorry about your loss and I'm sorry you feel the same way all we widows seem to feel about being strong -- how wonderful to get another choice. A friend told me recently, "If God is testing me, I'd like the written test, instead, please."

You're just starting on a long journey (have the casseroles stopped yet?) and please know that many of us have been through -- and some of us are nearly out the other side. We can help you find resources. If you write to me on FB I'll connect you with some other suicide survivors and organizations for them. If you're like me, you've probably been too numb and busy to take good care, but probably need it.

Here's a giant, tearful electronic hug and a promise for future connections --

Supa

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