My best friend and I had a discussion after September 11th about social media on that day. Everyone feels the need to state where they were when it happened (the attack on the Twin Towers, by the way), how they feel now, how great America is. The issue, my friend stated, is the co-opting of the story. Many people died. Their loved ones were directly impacted. One might say we were all impacted in a way, but it's really their story.
I've been thinking way too much about the co-opting of story. For example, I had anorexia pretty badly in 9th grade. It impacted my life. But my mother, while she didn't have anorexia, was deeply impacted by my eating disorder. Is she not allowed to have a say in the story of an eating disorder? If she wanted to write an article about how anorexia impacted her, it would be truthful as it is coming from her perspective, living with a daughter with a hidden eating disorder. What about people from my school? Could they claim they were impacted by my eating disorder, even though they weren't me, they weren't family, and they had little or nothing to do with me? Where do we draw the line of what is acceptable for impact, and what is not?
All this is muddle around to what I'm going through at the moment. It isn't my story. It's not in my day-to-day existence. But it is still impacting me greatly.
I have a family member who is a heroin addict.
That's pretty big. And apparently the face of heroin is no longer what it was when I was growing up, because this young man isn't what I would ever consider a heroin addict. And yet, here he is.
Is it co-opting his story to be upset? Or his ex girlfriend who has 3 kids with him, all under the age of 4? She has suffered the worst through all of this (and I'm sorry, I know addiction is a horrible illness, but it's an all-consuming selfish thing), having to pay for everything, going back to work like 4 weeks after she gave birth because she had no financial help from him. She knew about his drinking problem and guessed that he had a pill problem, but this whole heroin thing came out of nowhere and quickly escalated. She left as soon as she knew, as anyone would, but she's left living with one of her family members in a less-than-ideal situation because she has to work overtime just to pay her bills and provide her kids with food and daycare. She told me about finding the burnt spoons, the belt around his arm. I told my husband, who moved to swift action. I contacted their last involved relative, who wanted me to get everyone together for an intervention. I called around to clinics to find where he could go to detox, what the costs were, what options for financial help we could find.
This isn't my story, but I'm involved.
He doesn't know I'm involved. No one besides my husband and his girlfriend probably know that I'm involved. Maybe it's better that he doesn't. When my husband's mother was dying and I was pregnant with my first, I did everything I could. I was over at her house at least 3 times a week bringing her food, trying to clean up, paying her bills, running her business, knocking myself out. And I couldn't save her. She still died. Can I save him? Probably not. This isn't my family. Maybe it's better that I do what I can from behind the scenes.
That's not to say that I don't care. I care so much. While I'm cooking, cleaning, trying to get to sleep, I'm writing these epic letters in my head. What I would say to him. How I could help. Words that might just resonate and get him to clean up.
I can't stop.
I've seen my fair share of A&E's Intervention. I used to watch it every week. I would be filled with nausea and dread while watching it, regardless of the addiction. My heart ached for these addicts. My heart ached for their families. I saw what worked and what didn't. I don't know what will work, what words will influence him, and what will make him angry, make him feel unsupported, alone, hopeless. What if I wrote a letter that just pissed him off, or worse, made him feel like what right do I have to say anything to him.
And so I relay messages to my husband, try to get information about rehab, try to find supportive things to say.
But I have so little supportive things to say.
Why do we keep getting hit with this crap? When does this family get cut some slack? Philandering, alcoholic, abandoning father, mother killed by cancer, history of family addiction. Great. Hooray. Like the Kennedy's but without any money. Much less romantic that way.
What do I say? What do I do?
What would you say, what have you said?