It is red ribbon week at my kids' school, a time when I always feel generally uncomfortable with both the past and the future. For those who are unfamiliar, Red Ribbon week is when the schools try to find catchy ways to get school children to pledge to stay off drugs. I cringe when my children come home with red ribbons or discuss how they are doing "crazy hair" for red ribbon week. Is this really the best way to keep my kids off drugs?
When I was my daughter's age, I had already smoked pot. This was at seven and eight years old. I had already seen my father falling down drunk numerous times. I had seen older people in my life under the influence of drugs. I am from the beginning of the DARE generation where we were told drugs were bad. No one ever explained to us WHY or what drugs actually did to young bodies. We were also told sex was something married people do and HIV is God's righteous wrath for being a sinner. Except, I already had seen people on drugs, people having sex outside of marriage, knew people that were Gay that were nicer than the uptight judgemental folk feeding me this information. By the time I got to be sixteen years old, I felt adults were liars and hypocrites. It isn't what you SAY to children, it is what we SAW that made an impact on us.
During Red Ribbon week, I wonder if they will ever call on me to tell the children what it was like to be a junkie. That is what they need to hear. They need to hear some raw stuff. Some of the best emails I have ever received were from grown adults who told me they were on the fence about drugs when they saw "Black Tar Heroin". The film pushed them into the "nope" zone. That makes me feel as if allowing people to see me at the lowest point of my life was worthwhile.
I pray to all the Gods that my kids stay off drugs. I do my best to make that a reality. I sit at their soccer games. I cuddle them. I answer all their questions. I want them to love themselves so much more than I did back then. This is my greatest hope.
What was your experience with drugs? Did you see people using them? What brought you to the place where you gave yourself the permission to use?
I see you all as my extended family. I hope you love yourself a little more than you did yesterday. I hope you learn to love those drugs a little less. Those drugs are lying to you. They demand everything. They provide diminishing returns and will eventually leave you for dead.