real life

"This week, I discovered my daughter is living a second life in the shadows."

CONTENT WARNING: This post contains mentions of drug use and child loss, and may be triggering to some readers.

This week, I discovered my daughter takes drugs.

She’s run hot and cold – nice and nasty – for almost two years now. “It’s not surprising after everything she’s been through,” people tell me, with sympathy. The family doctor, friends, my counsellor. Even her counsellor said it when I rang to divulge my suspicions. Yes I rang her counsellor and told her my observations. It’s unorthodox I know, but unless a counsellor knows everything, aren’t the sessions useless? My money may as well be rolled and smoked. Oh! Now that is funny.

Ten years ago my 30 year old step-son Max died of a drug overdose. We’ve all worked so hard to honour him for the wonderful, clever, funny man he was. We pull together like real families do.

Eight years ago, my two daughters’ biological father estranged himself from them. We’ve all worked so hard to convince their hearts it wasn’t their fault. We talk openly and lovingly like real parents do.

Four years ago, my daughters finally encouraged their biological father to see them. We’ve all worked so hard to be happy about that, just like separated families are supposed to do.

Three years ago, my daughters’ biological father lost a battle against lung cancer. We’ve all worked to mourn him respectfully and forget the horror and pain he caused the girls. We cuddle and soothe as humans do.

Two years ago, my daughter was sexually assaulted by her ‘friend’ behind a nightclub. We’ve all fought for justice and healing. We failed dismally, just like so many victims do.

Last week we guessed her ‘shady ways’ might be weed, alcohol or even pills. Agreeing we won’t be choosing a coffin for another child of ours, my husband and I vowed to do everything differently – starting now.

Then we found out my 20 year-old daughter smokes crack.

This week, I discovered my daughter is in this on her own.

Her wonderful, snitchy friend told us everything she knew. Her ‘workmates’ were the dealers. They befriended her and gave her the first two hits for free. ‘Crack Sales 101’.

Despite studying health science at University and working in casual jobs since she was 17, it’s clear our daughter is living her second life in the shadows.

So her step-dad and I went to our family doctor where we learnt the rules.

1. Do not give an addict cash. We can buy food, petrol or pay the rent, but under no circumstances can we give money– even if she’s worked for it.

2. Love. Always love. Reach out through social media, in person and on the phone. No judgement, only love. We’ve done this before. By the time Max died, if he knew nothing else, he knew we loved him to the ends of the earth.

3. Call Family Drug Support, as often as we want to. Check! That number is on ‘speed’ dial now (excuse my pun. Irony helps when I’m angry).

4. Bring her into the family circle and tell her we know about her poor choices – no secrets. Offer support and be there when she needs us.


5. Believe it will take time. There’s no quick remedy. It’s not possible in Australia to bundle up your precious 20 year-old mess and put her in rehab to fix it.

6. “Look after ourselves.” Yep, sure. Whatever!

I’m going to have a coffee and something to eat before I vomit.

This week, I discovered my daughter has been on crack for two years.

I can’t stop crying today. The family doesn’t fuss though. Ten years ago we learnt to treat tears as the release of stress they really are. And anyway, everyone’s numb right now.

I spent the dark hours last night messaging people she knows. People who I think might know stuff. Whether they are on her side or ours, they all gave up titbits of information we hadn’t known before. This is good.

I still can’t believe it’s real but I need to – it’s time to save her life.

We’ll confront her lovingly tomorrow. We’ll be ready for either sad tears or an angry tantrum. If she storms off we’ll call the police, insisting we’re fearful she’ll take her own life. They’ll involuntarily commit her to rehab and she’ll be fixed.

Option two is that she breaks down, shows vulnerability and will be in the right frame of mind to make the decision to get clean. Either way, THERE IS A SOLUTION.

I might sleep tonight. This plan is a pretty good one.

This week, I discovered my daughter is a sex worker.

The confrontation started well. We got to the clinic. A strategy of treatment was devised and we gushed with pride and love over her strength.

Hope evaporated as soon as we got home though. I was pouring coffees when she confessed to making money masturbating online from her apartment and giving hand jobs in a brothel. With her arm around my shoulder, she said, “It’s time to leave me alone. For good. You’re judgemental bastards!” and walked out calmly and confidently.

This week I discovered my daughter… is a drug-running driver.

She’s blocked us on her phone and all social media. So we became her worst nightmare… parental detectives, undercover and on the case, all night.

On Friday afternoon we hired a car with tinted windows and waited until she finished work. We followed her to an apartment block in the nice part of town. We waited. Then we followed her to a house in the worst part of town. Like adrenaline fuelled Keystone Cops, we took photos, pulled hoods over our heads, sipped coffees ridiculously and came home at sunrise with intel and in tears.

This week we had to admit there’s nothing else we can do. We have to stick to the rules and be there when she decides she needs us.

Then this morning we sat down and planned how we’d follow her again tonight…

If this post bought up any issues for you please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Family Drug Support Australia on 1300 368 168, or visit their website here.

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