Smoothing Wrinkles

The other night, I, along with 10 other Listen to Your Mother bloggers, came out of the closet to share our stories about addiction in a live stream Google Hangout. Some of us had been addicts, others had lost family and friends to the disease. The thing that connects us the most, though, is our desire to help other families to be aware of the dangers of abuse. We hope that our transparency will encourage parents to talk to their children about medicine abuse, and educate them on how addiction can affect their entire lives in just one moment. Here is my story:

brandi jeter

Addiction changes people. I mean, of course it changes the person with the habit, we all remember the commercial with the egg and frying pan, “this is your brain on drugs”, but it also transforms those that are affected by the addiction. Children of addicts, like me, it’s hard for us to be who we were once addiction enters our world and disrupts and distorts our relationships. Years of distrust, resentment, and feeling ashamed of being the daughter of addicts have led to me building a wall between my parents and my heart. The wall looks an awful lot like suspicion, and even though both of my parents are rehabilitated, I’m so afraid of their relapse and all of the hurt and sadness that comes with it, that I’m constantly on the lookout for signs of their old habits.

It didn’t used to be like that.

I used to laugh with my mother, and called her for advice and girl talk. Now, it’s hard for me to enjoy conversations with her because I’m straining as she talks to make sure I don’t hear signs of slurring.  With my dad, trust is shadowed by fear. When we need someone to run to the store, and my dad volunteers, my stomach turns to knots at 21 minutes, 22 minutes, 23 minutes, wondering if he’ll be back that night, or if he’ll disappear for days like he used to do. When he finally returns, I’m looking in his eyes for traces of “up to no good”, and trying to make eye contact to make sure he’s all the way present with us.

As much as I want to stop, I can’t.

And, you know, it’s not fair to them. Both of them, my mother and my father, they deserve to get the benefit of the doubt. They’ve worked for it, they’ve pushed through the steel cage that addiction put them in, and they are both free. They’re different. They’ve changed.

And so have I.

I once took a training to learn how to work with children who had experienced trauma. We did an exercise once to learn how children change through difficult situations. We took a piece of paper that represented the child and crumbled it up. We stepped on it, tossed it around, and crumbled it up again. Finally, we opened the piece of paper up and attempted to smooth out the piece of paper again. For most of us, the paper was still whole, but those darn wrinkles just wouldn’t go away.

My wrinkles just won’t go away.

The wrinkle that was made on the night that I had to ask my mother to leave my house because she was drunk, and the one that developed after I gave birth to my daughter, her first grandchild, and she didn’t come to see me for a month because of her addiction…it’s still there.  When my maternal grandmother passed away, and my father was unable to provide any sort of emotional support for me because drugs had started to take over his life…that wrinkle won’t go away. Nor will the one from my mother missing my paternal grandmother’s funeral.

After their addiction, and thanks to their recovery, my parents are changed. And I am, too. I’m more suspicious, and less trustful. I’m whole, and I still love them both, but I’m different. I’m hopeful, though. As they learned in various support groups, they just need to take it one day at a time.

And so do I.

Each day, I’ll work on smoothing away the shame, hurt and sadness of the past, and eventually, hopefully, the wrinkles will fade away.

the medicine abuse projectRead the other stories in this blog tour:

Janelle Hanchett – http://www.renegademothering.com 
Brandi Jeter – http://mamaknowsitall.com
Sherri Kuhn – http://oldtweener.com 
Heather King – http://www.extraordinary-ordinary.net
Lyz Lenz – http://www.lyzlenz.com/
Judy Miller – http://judymmiller.com 
Lisa Page Rosenberg – http://www.smacksy.com
Alexandra Rosas – http://www.gooddayregularpeople.com
Ellie Schoenberger – http://www.onecraftymother.com
Zakary Watson – http://www.raisingcolorado.com
Melisa Wells – http://suburbanscrawl.com

You can also view the live stream readings: Part 1 (this is the one that I’m in), Part 2, and Part 3

This post is sponsored by The Partnership at Drugfree.org as part of a blog tour with listentoyourmothershow.com in an effort to #EndMedicineAbuse

  • MommyTesters

    I applaud you for being brave enough to share this and look beyond how things appears to you and recognize that your parents should get the benefit of the doubt but you can’t always give it to them. I’m willing to bet that they are incredibly proud of you and what an amazing person you turned out to be as well as the standards you have set for yourself and that adorable little girl of yours.

    • BrandiJeter

      I appreciate this, @mommytesters:disqus! You know, the thing is, they are proud of me, and they do tell me. Sometimes I gloss over it because, I don’t know, I don’t believe it? I don’t think they mean it? Maybe it would help the wrinkles a bit if I just start by trusting that. <3

  • Patricia Patton

    I applaud you Brandi for looking as closely as you can to this particular scab. It’s funny but it’s also true that some shit just does not go away. It changes and I guess that is what is called perspective when you turn it over and look at it. But like you say,what happened happened and you cannot just iron the wrinkles away even though times may have changed. You are also a womanchild ( get it manchild in the promiseland) and this is your story. And if you go crazy it won’t be because of this. Move on…. just as you are doing and don’t try to forget.

    • BrandiJeter

      Thank you so much, @patricia_patton:disqus. Perspective is so necessary, but it can absolutely be a bitch sometimes. Sometimes I just want to be a big old baby and just see things through my own eyes, and my own experience, but then…you know…I realize I have to allow change to happen. You’re right, though, this is my story, and I appreciate, REALLY APPRECIATE, your support as I share it. Even if it is is embarrassing and still a bit shame-filled.

  • kaicongroup

    Thank you for your transparency. I also know how hard it is to feel emotionally abandoned from your parents based on decisions that they made. Like you said, the wrinkles take time to smooth out, but you have an incredible support system. More people will benefit from your story.

    • BrandiJeter

      Thanks so much, Val! It can be challenging to be the adult child dealing with past hurt, but the good thing is that it does get better. Sharing my story definitely helps.

  • http://mypocketfulofthoughts.com/ Arelis Cintron

    Wrinkles are hard to get rid of, that’s for sure. As much as you try to change, those wrinkles are still a part of you and will never really go away. Fade yes, but never go away. It is a great thing that your parents are on the path of recovery and that they remember to have patience and like them you to are taking it one day at a time. There will be good times but some bad days in the mix but moving forward is the only option. Thank you so much for sharing your story Brandi and to other women who want to make a difference in the lives of others AND their families.

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