My mother is a drug addict. There I said it. You don’t know me so this couldn’t come as a shock. There are tons of people out there who are addicts, right? I’ve met many. I have a Masters degree in Counseling. I’ve taken courses on addiction. I’ve been to AA, NA and GA meetings, all in the name of research. GA means Gamblers Anonymous- that’s an interesting story for another day.
My earliest memory of drugs was of a time I didn’t know what they were, the mind altering effects, or that some consider them wrong (and mostly illegal). I was a kid and not yet in school when Mommy used to ask me to get “Mommy’s green pouch” (leather zippered thing) from behind the row of cookbooks on the first shelf. The shelf was incidentally at shoulder height for me. I suspect my stepfather wouldn’t think to go looking there but it didn’t matter because Mommy only smoked her weed in the middle of the day when he was at work.
Fast forward to my own drug use. I moved out of my Mommy’s house at age 8 and saw Mommy once a week, then once a month, then once a year until age 16 when we became estranged. I had the vague knowledge that my brother had smoke pot once or twice in high school but I was in a different crowd in high school or maybe I was just ignorant of who was doing drugs and when and where. In college I smoke my first joint at a party, by candlelight. A sizeable crew gathered after the club at someone’s apartment but the residents hadn’t paid their electric bill so there was a cooler full of ice, beer and a stick of butter, and a candle in the bathroom. My best friend and I didn’t want to seem uncool so when they passed the joint around I took a hit and another later and however many more for however long it made it around the circle. I did not get high. I got slightly dizzy. I was completely lucid, in my right mind and seemingly unaltered. Bummer.
This happened a handful of times- testing the waters with some pot. I always had the same result- dizzy but not high, except for that peanut butter cookie once. Could it be that I was immune to the effects of smoking it? Surely my mother must have smoked while she was pregnant with me. A quick internet search years ago confirmed my suspicion that someone had researched this phenomenon and found some percentage of boys whose fathers were pot smokers seemed to be immune to the effects. They didn’t research girls and moms but I’ll just assume. Once at a music festival I chewed on a mushroom and sucked some nitrous out of a balloon. THAT got me high for like 16 hours. I saw Jesus with a blue beard in the middle of the mosh pit. He helped me up when I fell down trying to retrieve my lost black Converse All-Star sneaker. I was definitely high.
I mention my own drug use because it’s no big deal, right? It is not my place to condemn others. I experimented with the more serious stuff just that once and didn’t make a habit out of it. And now legal in many states and touted for it’s medicinal purposes and recognized as a natural drug since it is a gift from Mother Nature, marijuana is no big deal. But my mother’s use troubles me. I have several friends who smoke everyday but I see them as old hippies. These are people with jobs- even good jobs, government jobs, professional jobs, jobs you would think would drug test but don’t. These other folks are full functioning adults who are contributing to society. So they get mellow once in a while? Mommy’s different.
We were estranged for a number of years then one day I was visiting my Grandmother and was surprised that my mom extended her stay so she could plot for us to have a teary reunion in a bus station. We spent a few days getting to know each other again- as adults. I was in my 20s. Yeah she busted out a joint on that trip but only once in front of me. We were in another country and she answered my quizzical look with the explanation that she had smuggled her dope into the country in a Tupperware container in her purse. After the reunion I vowed to visit her at home and kept my promise a year later. What I learned blew me away.
My car broke down on the way to my mom’s place, which was in a sketchy apartment complex someplace in upstate New York. I didn’t know it was sketchy because of my mom though. After a half dozen visitors came and went in and out of my mom’s bedroom she admitted that she dealt cocaine to the whole neighborhood out of her sock drawer. I should have suspected more was going on than her weed smoking because when I walked in after the car incident (I must have looked like a wreck) the first words out of her mouth were to offer me a Lithium. Sitting at that dining room table, in the middle of her rolling a joint and offering me one, came the statement “the only thing is though, I lace mine with cocaine.” Trying to be calm and collected I declined the joint and casually asked “how many of those things do you smoke a day?”, to which she replied, “I don’t know–six or seven.” WTF?
More staggering news came when in her mellow fogginess she admitted to me that the reason she moved upstate was because it was part of a plea bargain from when she got caught dealing cocaine. to an undercover agent. in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. No shit. I Googled it the minute I got out of that house and found out she was not telling tales. She was the office dealer to all the attorneys and whoever else and when the new DA took over he said he was going to clean up the streets of Brooklyn and start with his own office. She was arrested in front of TV cameras on the steps of the building as a media stunt. In exchange she had to move outside of the borders of the City of New York.
I thought her shenanigans were over when a few years later my stepfather figured out what she was up to and moved the family to a remote house several towns away. I was wrong because one day my half sister called me up from Florida and said, “If mom calls, DON’T send her money.” She never called but I heard that my half-brother was in the hospital and quarantined for his Diverticulitis/IBS because swine flu was all the rage at the moment and they weren’t convinced his symptoms weren’t the flu. Well, it turns out he was a drug dealer too. In addition to delivering pizza and wings, he delivered drugs and carried a gun. While he was in the hospital my mother snorted his entire coke inventory which must have been on consignment because the kingpin (if I’m using that word correctly) threatened to break all my brothers bones if they didn’t get the money. When my half-sister called me, mom was in the process of hocking all of her jewelry and anything else she could, to get the money together and save her son’s life. I’m glad she didn’t call me for money. I wouldn’t know what to do.
I heard more interesting stories as I developed a relationship with my half-sister who is eleven years my junior. There was the time our mom had a part time job and stole money from the safe in the office. She was also fired for stealing a prescription pad from a doctor she worked for and forging her own prescriptions for pain pills at multiple pharmacies in multiple towns. I remember when I was in high school and she shoplifted while we were together– in a store where two of my high school friends were working at that moment. I wonder what my face looked like when I had that realization standing there at the register with a clear view inside the tote bag on her shoulder, sheltering her stolen goods.
I’ve seen my mother a few times since our reunion over twenty years ago. Her husband moved the family once again to a more remote location, this time in a different state. She is raising my half-brother’s daughter who is almost in high school. My half-brother never comes around anymore. I have to wonder how she is scoring her pot now. Back at the apartment years earlier I said “where do you go to get this stuff?” and she said, “Oh honey, I have it delivered.” The last time I saw her was two years ago. All her teeth had rotted out of her mouth except for maybe 6 of them and she reeked of pot. I saw a photo of her online (I stalk my niece’s FB page) a few weeks ago and she was in a wheelchair (maybe that was temporary- they were doing a tourist thing). She’s only 19 years older than me but I guess the drugs take their toll. I don’t know that I’ve fully processed all the information I’ve shared here but I can say with certainly for the first time out loud that my mother is a drug addict. There, I said it. No big deal, right?