An Open Response to a Shitty Comment Left on My Published Personal Narrative of Living with Heroin Addiction

This Isn’t a Rant

I Interrupt my regularly scheduled 365 Writing Prompt to bring you this Public Service Announcement:

This is a discussion we all need to have, openly and without shame, because we all have spouses, parents, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. Heroin is a widespread epidemic and someone- somewhere is losing a loved one to it right now.

I had written a personal narrative which was originally published in Motherwell Magazine in April. It was syndicated in Salon Magazine two weeks ago.

I’m the type of writer who takes the time to respond to every comment on my published work. It indirectly says, thanks for taking the time to read my work and it shows I’m a real person and not someone who is simply in it to make a buck.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the person who left this comment on my personal narrative of living with heroin addiction and elaborate on my original response.

First, thank you for allowing me to utilize my anger management skills. Thank you for reminding me of my ability not to react but to take a step back and gain perspective before I respond.

I do look in the mirror, every day and I’m able to live with myself for making the best decisions I could and doing what I believe is the right thing to do to help (help is a poor choice of word) save my child. I never implied that she’s dirty when she isn’t clean. That logic does not belong to me. I’m not even sure why it would be implied- take things personally much?

Addiction is a disease. It’s an illness. Often times addicts burn bridges and are left to their own devices, but I don’t feel it’s fair to them for anyone effected by their disease to allow that to happen.

Thank you for affirming that every family facing addiction needs to step up and understand the addict is controlled by something far more powerful than they are, that we should do our best to be forgiving opposed to holding their actions against them and that every single person on the planet makes mistakes. That was my initial thought when I first read your utterly distasteful comment.

Thank you for proving there are those who view addiction as shameful. You’ve given me the opportunity to lead by example. My child is not a bad person because she experiences addiction and I am not a bad for sharing my story. I walk in my shoes and sometimes it’s scary and sad, and lonely, and devastating but I am strong and capable of filling those shoes.

Most importantly, thank you for being an asshole and inspiring me to write this open response to you allowing me to bring addiction into the spotlight, because it needs to be openly discussed in a positive and productive manner.

Since writing this story my daughter and our family are in recovery. She was hospitalized for three weeks and then transferred to a residential treatment center. At the time she was transferred her brother and I were with her so she knew she wasn’t taking this next step alone. She will never take any step alone. While the work and desire to get and remain clean is her responsibility, it’s my responsibility to support her in the process of doing so. It would be unfair for me to say help yourself if I’m not present in doing so.

I strongly disagree the “recovery industrial complex” monikers needs to die.

As we were waiting for the sheriff to transfer her that day, I handed her an index card. On one side I had written, You may feel as if sobriety is going to be the most difficult challenge you’ve ever faced but it’s not. Your addiction was. On the other side of the card I wrote two words, Forgive yourself.

On August 9th she will be discharged from the treatment center and returning home. Our family will be transitioning to the next step. I admire her strength and courage even though there were times when she wasn’t so willing- she has been clean for 42 days.

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