Our Jenni – Bravelets

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Our Jenni

Posted on December 14 2015

She wasn’t always brave…but bravery comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. It also isn’t so easily seen until the clouds pass and the view is finally clear. Jenni is our daughter. She was a happy child….She laughed and played with her brother well, and made friends easily. It wasn’t until my divorce from her father (an alcoholic) and remarriage that things began to turn south. It seemed to begin the time we were called by the parents at a house where a party had been going on. . She was brought home from that party (one that was supervised by other adults), because she had snuck in alcohol. We never allowed our children to drink, except for a tiny sip of wine at our Thanksgiving meal. We were mortified and did what most parents would do in that situation. We grounded and lectured her sternly about under aged drinking. We were highly involved in our church and even took our children with us to Mexico to do mission work, hoping it would help them to see another side of life: to see how privileged they were and that it was our duty to help those who weren’t able to help themselves. But like some young children from divorced families, she wasn’t happy and missed her father. At 13, she decided to move in with him. It wasn’t until sometime later that we found out he and his new wife would include her in their celebrations; allowing her to drink and party with them. It became clear to us that there was little supervision going on at their house. For a teenager, it probably seemed like paradise…although Jenni would tell us later, that some evenings, she was asked by her father to postpone coming home from school, because her step mother was in a bad mood. It was then that she began to lose connection with family…
Jenni got her GED and went away to college. She lived with my parents for a short while. It was during this time, that we began to see that there may be more to her drinking than just a passing adolescent phase. My parents did not drink and didn’t have any alcohol in their home, but we were told by Jenni that when she left to begin college, that her father gave her a bottle of booze and told her that she would need it to be able to live with my parents---My husband and I felt like then, that she needed some type of intervention. We put her into a 30 day rehab, hoping to get her “fixed up”. Little did we know there would be many more “treatments” from that day forward….and it was only the beginning of our living hell.
Things went from bad to worse in the next few years. Jenni got a MIP (minor in possession), met a young man, got pregnant and began the downward spiral into addiction. She entered rehab two more times during the next two years, while the father of her child kept their baby. It was truly a miracle that she was able to hold a part time job and graduated with a degree from a University, all the while secretly drinking.
After graduating, that relationship crumbled and she moved to a town closer to us, got an apartment, and started her student teaching in the same school where I still teach…I was thrilled with all the possibilities for our newly “recovered” Jenni. But she was still struggling with not having her son with her, depression set in, and the drinking escalated. She lost her apartment, entered rehab again, and then came home to live with us while she got back on her feet. There was to be no drinking or drugs in our house. My husband and I even quit having an occasional drink and cleared all of the alcohol out of our house. Those of you who have lived with an alcoholic or drug user know that if an alcoholic/addict wants a drink, or drugs –they will find it even if it’s not easily accessible. Once again, we helped Jenni enter rehab in yet another town, in hopes THIS would be the time it clicked for her.
When we visited her in rehab, she had met a man in recovery.... to the hopeful eye, it seemed they were good for each other and might help each other along the long road of recovery. They lived together for almost three years, visiting us at our home on occasion. From the outside, it seemed that things were well, but then things went from bad to worse, starting with a near death incident with Tylenol poisoning. Jenni called one evening telling us she wasn’t feeling well. She had bronchitis and a migraine. As with most addicts, ”If a little is good, then more is better”. By the next evening, she was admitted to the hospital, near kidney and liver failure because of an overdose of Tylenol products. We were told by the doctors that Tylenol poisoning had become more common than one would think, but with her already fragile liver, she was close to death and remained in ICU for almost 2 weeks. Looking back, there continued to be signs all over the place that our precious daughter was slipping down the path of addiction again. We began to watch as our energetic, happy daughter started to wither. It seemed as though there was always SOMETHING that was going wrong – her life a constant crisis.
Although Jenni had her degree, she never worked! Her boyfriend never worked either…we were always told , when we asked about working ,that he had a trust fund so they didn’t have to work. When we met his parents, the “trust fund” was substantiated by them. You have heard that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”….we never knew the truth in that statement, until then. Unknown to us, Jenni and her boyfriend had, almost immediately from leaving rehab, started using drugs and were addicted to both meth and heroin. She soon lost the rights to her child, and she felt there was nothing to live for. If a mother’s tears could wash away their child’s problems, then Jenni’s would have been washed away in an ocean of ours — It was then that my husband and I finally decided we were finished …we told her we couldn’t, shouldn’t, and wouldn’t watch her continue to kill herself as we stood by helpless. When and if she was ready to finally get help and get clean and sober, we would be there for her, but there would be no more “help” until then…
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, with only short calls from her to say hello. We could tell by her voice that she was slowly dying…giving up hope. During one of those last phone calls to us, she told us that she was living in a pay by the week motel (a favorite for the homeless, alcoholic/addict), an undercover cop had befriended her and told her that when she was ready for help, she would be there if she needed her. A few days later, we received a call from that cop. I still believe she was one of God’s angels, because God wasn’t through with Jenni yet.
We drove the next day and picked her up. It was hard to believe what we saw. Barely weighing 90 pounds, her hair a matted mess, we drove her to the town where my parents live. On the way, I handed her a telephone number to one last rehab. There was snow on the ground that day, and the businesses were closing up early, so we had to spend one more night with my parents before we could see if she would be admitted. I spent the whole night praying she wouldn’t run or change her mind. The next day, the sun shone…the snow started to melt, as we left her at the door to her new home for the next 90 days. From the beginning, things seemed different this time—we visited her several times, bringing her son with us when we came. She was happy, clear eyed, and making friends – something she hadn’t done before. Jenni went from her stay there to a sober home. She got a job …albeit part time, she loved it. She was helping others who were down and out in a non-profit company. She was finally feeling like she had a reason for living again..that she was worthy of yet one more chance.
TODAY, she is 2 years clean and sober! She has a new baby daughter and a loving fiance. She has started a new job with full benefits and now has rights to see her son full time. I understand that in recovery, we are not promised sobriety without hard work and diligence in the program, but I do know that from this day forward, Jenni will have new opportunities each day to continue her bravery through new and stressful situations…You might know that “Being BRAVE means doing the next right thing, even when it is hard or scary”. We love you, Jenni!
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