A couple of weeks ago, I told you the story about a car, my kids, and the parking lot hill they rolled down. It’s true, every word. I did pull the car to a stop–and remember, it was a 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente, not your average light model of today. I was indeed a beast. I’m not proud of the situation that called forth my inner Hulk, but I am very proud of the fact that she appeared as needed. That, however, is not the real reason for the tattoo I got just a few days ago.
While the first part of the poem speaks to me as a woman, and as a gentle human, it was the second half of it that set off gongs in my head when first I read it. It’s taken me about a year of contemplation before getting this tattoo, because it recalls one of the most heartbreaking days of my life.
When Chris dove headfirst into drugs, it never lasted long. It would be about a month in total, but a solid two weeks of horrificness once, sometimes twice a year. We didn’t know if he’d vanish or die or both. He wasn’t Chris, the sweet, gentle, kind, and brilliant giant of a man. Loving son. Beautiful boy. He was the opposite in every way. He was desperate and scared and out of control. Outside of those horrific weeks, he fought so hard.
One summer day (he was always worst in the summer, a pattern we learned to anticipate) when he was at the end of an especially horrific period, he came home with enough heroin to kill himself. That wasn’t the plan, he said. He just wanted to “use it up” and then he was quitting.
If you know anything about addicts, they don’t tell you they’re going to use. They do everything they can to hide it so you can’t stop them. Chris told us. He was that desperate for us to stop him. But the other Chris, the opposite Chris, wasn’t going down without a fight.
That was the day I unleashed every dragon, every wolf, every monster sleeping inside me. Forty-eight-year old me chased my 22 year old son through the woods, leaping over fallen trees, barreling through bramble, scrabbling over rock and rubble. I wrestled all 6’2″, 230 lbs of him to the ground. Twice. I held closed a lift-up garage door against his body-builder muscles. I ripped his jeans off his body to get the drugs and paraphernalia from his pockets. All to keep him from using. All because I knew it’s what he needed me, wanted me to do, even if he fought me. Because every time he got away, he came back.
When Opposite-Chris finally seemed to give up the fight, I went to clean myself up. We should never, ever have trusted Opposite-Chris. He got into the upstairs bathroom with his drugs. Alone. I was furious. I flew up the stairs, bashed down the bathroom door and mommy-swooped the bags of heroin from his mouth (he’d just shoved it all in) and flushed them. Then 911 was called, because there was no way to know how much he’d actually ingested.
But the calm. My god, the calm in him afterward. When it was all done. When the drugs were gone and the EMTs were taking him to the ER to feed him charcoal and dose him with Narcan. It wasn’t the drugs. I honestly don’t think he got much of it into his system. Chris was grateful. Tearful. We battled, me and Chris against Opposite-Chris, and we won.
It wasn’t the only battle I waged with him. For him. There were many. But the poem…the poem spoke to me of this battle. Again, I’m not proud of the situation that called up my inner-beast, but I’m ridiculously proud to know that dragons, wolves and monsters sleep inside this otherwise gentle human, ready to burst free when needed.