When my daughter was 17, she met a boy in high school who came from a bad part of town.   This boy was in a group home, sent there after being in Juvenile Hall for the good portion of his teens.   I have to admit, I was not thrilled at her sudden interest in him and what seemed to be a good case of Puppy Love.    This group home took in kids who were custody of the State/County and would throw them in to Suburbia to see if they would magically change.   They didn’t…they were just in serious culture shock.  My daughter ended up being in a year long relationship with him and we ended up loving him as well.   

I learned many things about him and his past.  I had a hard time hearing about his Mother(who was an addict) and how neglected he and his siblings were.   I was amazed at how this young boy who started hustling at an early age, survived in such an environment.   The life he described was like something from a movie, drug deals going on around him, running from Child Protection Services, homeless nights, his joining a gang and selling dope to put food on the table and pay for an apartment that had no furniture.   This boys’ father died in jail, his Grandmother helped in raising them, but his mother was nowhere to be found.     Unfortunately he succumbed to the peer pressure of the streets and soon found an easy way to ensure his sisters and brother were fed and clothed.   This was a life he was ashamed of, yet he talked about his gang friends as if they were his family.   I suppose to him, they were.  

They broke up their Senior year in high school, my daughter was devastated and heartbroken.   I didn’t like him much at that time, but as time went on they reconnected and remained friends, sometimes more at times.  Once released from the group home, he returned to his Grandmothers house to find his own Mother struggling to recover from her addiction.   This is still an ongoing battle for her and she spends more time doing drugs than staying off of them.   The siblings were also placed in protective custody and seem to be following his path.  A series of events occurred after he graduated, including assault and grand theft.    This boy is currently serving 3 months for these crimes in a jail nearby.  The interesting thing about all of this is that he does not use drugs, he despises them and for obvious reasons.   Drugs to him equaled pain and oddly enough survival.     

This entire time I have been a witness to my daughters addiction, he has been a source of support.   I was always able to call upon him to see if he had heard anything as to where she was, and with a few quick phone calls he would find her.   It was during the times when I would go months not knowing if she was alive, that I appreciated him most.   I know it was difficult to hear about her and to see her like she was, because it reminded him of his Mother and all those years he lived in similar shoes as a powerless onlooker to this horrid disease.  

He is writing me letters with encouragement, telling me to stay strong all while being in jail.  Today in a letter he wrote that our family was the closest thing he had ever had to Parents and a “real” family.   I couldn’t believe that and I almost cried.   I represented something he had always wished he had, yet I have a daughter who has clearly not turned out as I expected or hoped.    My daughter raised with all the love and support I could give, drug and alcohol free and yet is living his Mothers life.   This boy who was raised on the streets and witness to horrible things would not use drugs if you paid him.   This boy is no angel…but he is no drug addict either.  

I know his Mother never visits him, he has cut his ties with the friends he got in to trouble with, his girlfriend seems nice and from a good family, and then there is me.   How do I fit in?  I have to admit I want to be there for him via letters and phone calls when I can.   It is all I can offer him amongst my own turmoil of a life.   I hope it is enough.   I want him to succeed and find his way…he has so much potential just like my daughter does.  

If this child can make it then I know she can beat this.   I’ll never give up hoping that she will.

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