A guest review from Gwynna Hurtja.
I remember the first time I experienced the artificial pleasure of opiates. I was 26, laid out in an uncomfortable hospital bed and catheterized after having kidney surgery. The nurse came in and said, "I'm going to give you something for the pain" and then he gave me a shot of Demerol in my (then) very skinny ass. Within seconds, pleasure I can only describe as uber-orgasmic coursed through my entire body. I sunk back in my pillow and said to the people that were at my bedside, "I've never felt so good in my whole life. It's like little pleasure explosions all over my body." And it was really a very accurate description of the experience. To this day, I will readily admit that I love opiates, for easing pain both physical and emotional. I'm lucky enough to have them prescribed to me and I know how to use the medication responsibly. But I realize that opiates have lead many people down some dangerous roads; Occasional enjoyment morphs into addiction and they're shooting heroin at 8 am just to get out of bed. I knew an addict who told me that she kept her stash in her night stand because she literally could not get out of bed without a fix. Yet, I've also known people that have used heroin occasionally on a recreational basis and never became dependent on the drug.
I wonder why it is that some people can use it here and there while others try the drug once and turn into junkies, willing to sacrifice their integrity and dignity over and over to get high? Is it about moral weakness? A lack of willpower? Is it a genetic predisposition? Parental failure? Mental illness? What is it?
The writer of Subdural Flow, who refers to herself as broken-hearted mom, has spent almost a decade trying to answer that. She is a mother watching her 26 year old son, Andrew, struggle with a debilitating and merciless heroin addiction. His addiction has been a decade long roller coaster of short recoveries followed by long relapses, rehabs, incarcerations, promises never kept, hopes ripped to shreds, OD's. Her situation is really quite depressing and it took me a while to read her blog all the way through. It's not that broken-hearted mom is humorless. (I thought this was pretty funny). It's that her pseudonym is apt - she is dealing with a heartbreaking situation. I can't help but feel after reading this blog, that our country's policy of criminalizing drug addiction has driven a deeply embedded knife even further into her heart. That's not to say that Andrew doesn't deserve to serve time for some of the acts he committed to feed his addiction. And it is obvious that being in the prison system is the only way Andrew seems to be able to stay clean for any length of time.
Broken-hearted mom is a competent writer. She tells her story with a beautiful candor, willing to admit she may have made some wrong turns as a mother, while also acknowledging her son's culpability in the mess he's made of his life. The writing itself isn't particularly imaginative or breath-taking. The strength is in its honesty and in the subject matter. It's written with the spirit of a person who has a lot of shit to get off her chest and probably not a lot of people in her personal life willing to listen to it anymore. Also, she's made it clear, especially in her earlier blogs, that having a junkie for a son is a source of shame for herself and her family. This is so sad to me and one of the many reasons I think our society's attitude towards drug addiction is in need of a serious overhaul. Her willingness to share the brutal details of this deep, dark family secret even under the veil of blog anonymity is very brave and I admire her for it. Despite all the grief Andrew has put her through, this woman loves her son. I find it so touching that she is still able to find reasons to be proud of him . It is those anecdotes about Andrew that really break my heart too, because they give glimpses into the really great person Andrew is beneath his addiction.
That being said, after reading blog after blog of essentially the same subject matter (Andrew, heroin addiction, Al-Anon, etc), I felt weary.
I get the impression that this blogger is content with an audience of just recovering/recovered addicts and/or those who love them.
If that is the case, then her blog is perfect as is. But if she wants to expand her audience, she will need to broaden her material. This shouldn't be difficult for her. Broken-hearted mom has led a fascinating life. The few glimpses I got into the lives of the other characters in this drama intrigued me and I longed to read more details about other aspects of their lives. The blog where she talked about trying to find her biological father felt like a breath of fresh air. Broken-Hearted Mom's "48 Things About Me " are pretty amazing and I would love for her to elaborate on some of those.
I won't be adding Subdural Flow blog to my already overflowing reader, but I will check back from time to time to see how Andrew is doing. And if a blogger can get me to care about a junkie I've never met, then I can't give her any less than
P.S. For any road-tripping junkies out there, this is a must read.