I knew my niece would relapse. I expected it. No matter what her mother and I did to rehabilitate her, no matter how much money we spent on rehab or how much time we spent trying to find her in shady and dangerous areas to beg her to get help, we could not change Stephaney’s choices or her addiction.
On December 5, 2018, the police called to tell me they had found my niece, Stephaney living in a box on Camp Bowie. If you missed the blog, here’s the link.. Addiction Destroys Families- Girl In A Box finding my niece out of her mind and trying to convince her to re-enter treatment as I stood on a busy road was an escapade in futility. We lost Stephaney to the streets for another year. No one and I mean no one who doesn’t have an addict for a loved one can understand the depths of despair you fall into.
I once had someone tell me “don’t hate the addict hate the addiction.” How I kept from slapping that guy I have no idea. Addicts have s choice. No one is holding a gun to their heads to destroy everything around them. I hate the drug and the addict. People telling you to forgive someone who consistently hurts you and your family don’t have a clue of what they are asking or expecting. How my mothers mother dealt with her addiction for forty years I have no idea. I can’t do this another twenty years. I can’t do it another year with Stephaney. I’ve lost any ounce of hope I formerly had. I’m now hopeless. Void. Empty.
My sister called me tonight upset about another “crazy phone call from Stephaney.” Why Cindy doesn’t hang up and suffers through these abusive phone calls from a daughter we’ve tried to help the past 17 years I have no idea. I would’ve hung up. I wish Cindy would learn to.
During my first divorce and five year custody battle, one attorney finally gave me advice about phone calls from my ex that I needed to hear. What was it? “Hang up.”
My niece, Stephaney has been hitting the sauce again. I’m guessing for at least a few weeks now based on her behavior. Last week after being screamed at in my own vehicle over telling her to pay her own rent , I strongly suspected that Stephaney was using again.
The violence and anger of someone on meth is difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it. I wasn’t afraid of my agitated and angry niece yelling at me from the passenger seat. Instead I was angry. Mad as heck I spent money on 9 months of rehab AGAIN. She should have been afraid of me and the 17 years of her antics that have affected our entire family. I have no idea how I didn’t have an accident. I even called Cindy on my Bluetooth so she could hear all of this screaming my niece was doing while riding in my car.
Years ago, in Cindy’s home with yet another escapade of Stephaney out of her mind on drugs, I called her out on it. She grabbed a knife and held it to my throat in front of my shocked sister who called the police. The things we’ve been through with Stephaney are shockingly sad. Things that we can’t forget but she doesn’t remember. How convenient.
Stephaney is and always has been the biggest challenge our family has faced. From punching holes in the walls to stealing credit cards or even our cars and wrecking them to saying horrible things to us, Stephaney has no idea why no one other than Cindy and I bother to help her. Even her own daughters won’t speak to her. They are 16 and sick of her relapses. We all are. Our husbands can’t understand why Cindy and I keep trying to Save Stephaney. Our other children can’t. Her own children can’t.
Tonight while leaving Greenwood Cemetery, a text from Cindy confirmed my suspicions. Stephaney had called Cindy’s house and demanded to speak to her kids. Cindy was busy trying to comfort Makenna who was holding her dying guinea pig. Her twin sister, Maryssa was making dinner. Cindy was alone with the twins when a call from a cell phone that Cindy pays for destroyed her night. Her daughter, Stephaney was on the other end of that cell phone screaming and demanding to talk to her kids. More upsetting than the screaming is the fact that we know when Stephaney is using. We always know. Crazy talk from a crazy person. My niece has been committed over and over because even the police think she’s insane when she’s using.
In 2010 on Super Bowl Sunday, Stephaney overdosed. Cindy was preparing to sign the death certificate when a doctor walked out to announce that “he had saved her.” My sister looked right at him and screamed “why?!” She meant it. We knew she would never change but like other families we tried over and over to change her. We hoped. We prayed. We paid for rehab after rehab after rehab. Inadvertently we enabled Stephaney. We didn’t know what tough love was. We never have. That Dr gave our family another 10 nearly 11 years of dealing with Stephaney while raising the twins. Cindy knew it and I knew it too.
Many of our friends have lost their kids to drugs. They post how broken they are with their son or daughter gone. They mourn the child they knew without knowing how an addict sucks every bit of joy out of your life. Without experiencing the painful merry go round of them being clean then using over and over again.
One of our friends, Sherri lost her son to heroin. She was forced to kick him out of her home after he broke several of her bones. He died of an overdose. She mourns his death everyday. I talked to her about accepting he made his choices. She needs to stop blaming herself. She needs to move on. How many parents and loved ones blame themselves and suffer through physical and verbal abuse are finally relieved that the addict they couldn’t reform is finally gone? There are parents relieved “it’s over.” Sherri isn’t one of them. The guilt she carries has caused her many health issues.
I walk into prisons on a regular basis. Often I’m thinking “would prison have reformed my niece, Stephaney?” She spent 6 months in Jacksboro at the state jail after breaking into Cindy’s house. Stephaney blames Cindy for pressing charges.
Stephaney stole a semi in Oklahoma and spent another 6 months in Cotton County Jail. These “stints” didn’t reform my niece. I saved her from a 20 year sentence in Oklahoma. Looking back, I wish I had let her go to prison.
I wish I had the past 6 years of Stephaney being out of of jail back.
Nineteen involuntary commitments because she was out of her mind on meth over and over and over. Ruined holidays with her upsetting the entire family.
Three years ago, Cindy and I spent two years spent searching the streets for her in Fort Worth. The angst of these emotionally debilitating scenarios with Stephaney literally broke my sisters fragile heart. Addicts don’t care. Over and over again buying “psych friendly clothing” to drop off at the nut house. We hated going to visit her at psych wards as she demanded to “come home.” The first opportunity she had to use again she did. The pain my niece has brought to our family is as big as Texas.
Trying to act normal while wondering if she was dead or alive. Addicts are the most entitled, narcissistic, demanding, self absorbed, irresponsible, reckless, self indulgent idiots in the world. I hate my mother for being a heroin addict. I hate my niece for being a meth addict. I hate what both of them have done to our family. HATE IT.
6 months months ago, Stephaney returned from treatment in Oklahoma. For three months she lived with Cindy. Laying around and refusing to look for work. Then one day acting so irrationally that I called the police to have her committed due to her behavior.
When she was released this time, I advised her that she wouldn’t be returning to Cindy’s house. This created an argument. I held firm.
Stephaney “believes” Cindy owes her a place in her home. Stephaney is misinformed. She had ruined every opportunity in her life that we’ve given her over and over again.
My sister didn’t need anymore drama. The twins didn’t either. I located a group home. The rent was $650. I paid it. I spent a week driving Stephaney to job hunt. I found her a job. The following month, I paid half the rent. The ONLY bill Stephaney had was the rent. Cindy pays her cell phones bill. I buy her bus tickets. The rent is due next Wednesday. Stephaney has been so erratic at her job that they sent her home for four days last week. She’s only saved $300 towards the rent. I picked her up this morning to tell her to find another job. I picked her up this morning to tell her to start being a responsible adult. I was yelled at. “Don’t upset me when I’m going to a job I hate. Don’t upset me when I’m living in a place I hate. I need to be happy and not worried about paying rent.”
When did we become enablers? I have no idea. I wish I knew. Why did we overcompensate as mothers to our children? Our own mother was a heroin addict. A loser. A miserable excuse for a mother. In fact, she sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. My grandfather tape recorded this deal. He kept the tape to remind us that no one wanted us. He also sexually abused my sisters and I for years until we finally ran away. Tammy was four years older than Cindy and I. We ran away at 15. We had no one. We lived in a shelter until we were 16. I obtained a hardship drivers license and we saved up and lived in a $200 car after we left the shelter until we could afford an apartment. We never did have the money for electricity at that apartment. But we had a roof over our heads and by 19 years old we moved to an apartment and finally had electricity. Cindy was pregnant with Leigh Ann. She was followed home from IHOP to that first apartment with no electricity. She was raped in the dark. We raised Leigh Ann together. We moved from the first apartment in the middle of the night behind on the rent because we were using it to move away from the apartment Cindy would never feel safe in again. Leigh Ann was born at JPS 8 months later.
Arguing with Stephaney in my car about her only responsibility being to pay the rent, she screamed “you’re lucky and my mom is lucky. You have homes, businesses, cars. You’re lucky.”
Whenever I’m told I’m lucky or I’ve been lucky, I want to slap the shit out of the misinformed idiot telling me I’m lucky. I’ve never been lucky. I’ve always worked my ass off to take care of my sister and Leigh Ann. Cindy was in a hospital bed for two years after an accident. She had two kids, Leigh Ann and Stephaney, no child support and me. She didn’t have help from our shitty family. We never have. We’ve always had each other. We’ve never been lucky but we have always been willing to work, thankful for the opportunity to work, devoted, loyal, determined and steadfast. We had to be.
Stephaney was pregnant at 15 with the twins. After their birth, Stephaney moved from marijuana to meth “to lose weight.” I will never forget having to find an attorney at Harris willing to come to NICU to keep the state from taking the twins. I found someone and knowing we were in a bind, he was expensive. Attorneys are always driven by greed. Cindy and I committed together to “saving the twins and giving them the life we never had.”
There were tough times the first few years. Stephaney would drop by high as a kite demanding to take the twins. We would call the police. We never let her take the twins because she was never sober enough for the responsibility. Protecting the twins has been a 16 year investment.
Stephaney has never paid rent in her life. She’s never paid her own car insurance when she has had cars. She has never paid her own cell phone bills. Cindy always buys a new phone when Stephaney loses the old phone. She pays the phone bill because it’s the only way we can try to find Stephaney when she disappears again.
Last year, Cindy and I flew to NY to film with CBS. Stephaney was clean and doing well. For the first time in the twins lives, we trusted her to watch them for two days. Our flight landed at Newark and a text from Maryssa read “she’s acting funny. I think she’s on something again.” Getting off that plane, Cindy clutched her heart. This was the first sign that my twin had heart issues. We were under contract to film and always honor our obligations. I suggested going to the hospital. Cindy declined and said “if we aren’t on that set, they will sue us. Give me a Xanax.” But the Xanax didn’t take away this pain. For the duration of our commitment in NY, Cindy had chest pain.
Getting on the plane to fly home, I gave Cindy 6 aspirin and a bottle of water. Her heart Dr later told me “the aspirin and water most likely kept her from having a heart attack on that flight.”
We returned to Texas and I informed Stephaney I was putting her back into treatment after she failed a drug test at Cindy’s house. I had a full schedule as usual and a heart doctor appointment for Cindy the following day so I put Stephaney on the bus. Hours later, Stephaney called halfway to treatment. She had gotten off the bus and I had to drive and pick her up to take her to Grove, Oklahoma myself. Cindy insisted on going with me. I wish she hadn’t. Finding Stephaney singing and dancing at a truck stop wasn’t what either of us wanted to see. We’ve seen it before. She’s either happy or angry.
It was an awful drive to the facility. Happy went to angry pretty quick. I didn’t care. I couldn’t get to Grove, Oklahoma soon enough. Cindy’s chest pain continued.
The following day I took Cindy to the ER. She was having a heart attack. She had 3 blocked arteries. She was transported while I picked up the twins from school to Harris Heart Center.
A year ago, I almost lost my sister. A year ago saving Stephaney finally made me realize that she didn’t want to be saved.
A year ago, my attitude changed. Stephaney would have to support herself and be a member of society. She would have to work. She would have to be responsible. She would have to grow up. None of these things happened. Instead, after picking her up following 9 months of treatment, Stephaney moved into Cindy’s home until her behavior became so erratic that I had no choice other than to call a 51/50 on her to get her out of Cindy’s house.
Stephaney will tell you that the 19 times she’s been involuntarily committed were everyone’s fault but her own. JPS told us every time they kept her “she’s positive for meth.”
Stephaney never admits to drug use. Even when see fails a drug test, Stephaney insists “it’s wrong.”
We know when she’s using. She thinks we don’t. Everyone knows. Her jobs, her friends, her family. Addicts think they are sneaky and no one’s the wiser. Sneaky and stupid go hand in hand. I’m so sick of Stephaney’s antics.
Tonight’s phone calls forced Cindy to take her heart pill, nitroglycerin. Tonight’s phone calls left Makenna mourning a guinea pig slowly dying. My worry about Cindy continues.
Months ago, my husband announced that Stephaney isn’t allowed into our home. This hurt me. She was doing well at the time. “Your niece ruins every holiday or family get together. I’m sick of watching you and Cindy on the merry go round of Saving Stephaney. She’s clean and normal. She’s high and agitated jumping in front of my car screaming she’s God and embarrassing us when a neighbor stops me to tell me that they saw Stephaney bathing in the fountain at the park. I just can’t take it anymore. I want normality and Stephaney ruins every shred of predictability there is. She will relapse and when she does, I don’t want her in our house. I’m uncomfortable around her. I don’t like screaming and yelling under my roof. I’m sorry but this decision is firm. I want a normal holiday.”
Of course I was hurt by this but he’s right. Every single holiday is ruined by my niece. Her sister, Leigh Ann can barely speak civilly to her. Stephaney’s stolen from Leigh Ann over and over or called her names. Stephaney has simply done too much.
My son tried to help by offering to let her stay with him. Stephaney started calling my daughter in law names and knocking holes in their walls.
Stephaney is unpredictable. Stephaney on meth is angry, confrontational and unpredictable.
I can’t do anything more to change the shape of things to come. I must pull back and stop trying to run to the rescue. I hate to admit that I’ve finally realized that my help is actually enabling my niece.
I dropped her off this morning after driving through McDonalds to buy her a coffee with her screaming her order from my passenger seat at the cashier. Being around someone on meth is and can be dangerous to others. You cannot predict what they will do or how they will behave. I was relieved to drop her off at work but concerned about her getting fired if she didn’t stop being hateful and rude.
Based on this evenings string of phone calls to Cindy’s house, my niece, Stephaney is back on the sauce and off the rails. I’m heartbroken but I must harden my heart and focus on my sister, my husband, my son, my twin Grandnieces, Maddy and Leigh Ann as well as my clients. It’s difficult to stop worrying about Stephaney and her choices but I no longer have a choice..