Saturday, September 29, 2012

The REAL Zombie Apocalypse

So, hubby and I were driving the other night when the subject turned to methamphetamine.  It's a personal subject with us--see, his younger sister is a "tweaker," has been screwing up her family and devastating her young children for years now.  Her (sometimes) husband (the kids' father) is also a meth addict.  At one point, they ditched their two younger boys with us for an afternoon of babysitting that panned into six months, with us having the boys Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and hubby's older sister caring for them through the school week.  SIX MONTHS, and at no point did this creature so much as THANK us, let alone apologize for being such an irresponsible bucket of puke.  While her hapless junkie husband consented to relinquishing custody, the sister refused--see, she was selling her foodstamps for drug money, and no way she was giving up those kids. 

Oh, plus, of course, according to HER, she didn't have a problem.  It was everyone else.  Landlords who want to be paid?  Mean, unfair.  Family members who expect her to be responsible, to care for her kids?  Hateful meanies who are trying to make her look bad.  Friends who tell her to get it together and stop neglecting her kids?  Jealous, spiteful, out to get her.  And bosses who expect her to actually show up for work?  Assholes who have it out for her.

After six months of having nothing to do with her kids, she showed up, demanding them back.  Social Services was no help--see, they could only step in if she HAD the kids.  So long as the kids were with US and hubby's GOOD sister, they weren't in danger.  No danger, no intervention from Social Services.  Long story short, she got her kids back.

Immediately, she moved to the most devastatingly awful part of town.  Shared her living quarters with a number of men, with one in particular inspiring terror in her kids.  Was he abusing them?  Almost certainly, but the boys would clam up when questioned.  Understand the boys weren't the only victims here--she has a daughter, too.  A daughter who stayed with her aunt, who refused to move back in with the tweaker. 

Did Social Services finally (with a lot of prodding) step in?  Indeed, and what a mess.  The rental property (which was hammered, like every property she's ground through in the past five years or so) was so littered with drugs, so contaminated by meth use and production, that they had to throw away all the boys' toys and clothes.  The boys themselves tested positive for meth because the air was so thick with it.  A few months later?  Her husband was busted for trying to sell meth to a cop at a local hardware store.  A few months after that?  She was busted, yet again, and opted to go into rehab. 

As a result, she's had increasingly frequent visits with the kids, and I think it's a terrible idea.  These kids are so messed up already, they have totally adopted her "everything is everyone else's fault" viewpoint, to the point that they blame US (the good sister and my husband and me) for their mother's inability to take care of them.  They will hear no ill of her, they insist that she bought them all the toys and clothes they have.  It's wrenching to hear, especially from the oldest, the girl, who is torn right down the middle because, on the one hand, she knows all about her mother, even knows that her mother has traded sex for drugs.  She was witness to much of it.  But on the other hand?  On the other hand, she wants her mommy to love her, she wants the family she is never going to have.  So, while she does appreciate what her aunt has done for her, she still crawls to her mom and begs for affection.  It's devastating to watch.

The kids are still with the aunt, and they're doing okay.  The boys still have wowser speech problems--at eight and six, they're still very difficult to understand.  That had improved markedly during the six months they were with us, but the time back with their mother completely undid any progress.  The boys are also quite stunted in their growth--they're tiny for their age.  At our Christmas party year before last, the younger boy, who was five at the time, was smaller than our friend's three year old girl.  Even with these problems, they're doing okay--except that their mother will almost certainly soon be asking for them back.  And Social Services has a bad habit of handing kids back because, gosh, we need to preserve the family at all costs.  This isn't the first time their mother has "gotten clean."  It is almost definitely not going to be the last time, either.  You see, her idea of "clean" involves a lot of prescribed meds for everything from PTSD to ADHD.  Last time she ditched meth, she spent years eating prozac, xanax, zoloft, and lortabs (for chronic whatever).  So my hopes for her long-term recovery are pretty low. 

Anyway, back to the meth discussion on the drive.  I was talking about how much more dangerous I think meth is than other drugs like heroin or cocaine, because meth is so cheap.  It is so accessible.  Any idiot with 20 bucks can walk into Walmart and assemble the ingredients.  Heck, a recent news story detailed a guy walking through Walmart MAKING meth as he walked using the "shake and bake" method. Plus, the havoc this crap wreaks on dopamine receptors in the brain is permanent--you don't quit meth and things go back to normal.  No, you've fried things out forever.  This stuff makes cocaine look like candy, and it makes going clean and staying that way a Herculean effort.  The affordability, the ease of production?  Make the problem of meth a huge one that grows by leaps and bounds every day.  My husband shook his head and said, "Tweakers--maybe THAT'S the zombie apocalypse, huh?"

Maybe it is.

Oh, and real quick, I want to say that hubby's sister and her foodstamp selling?  Not a reflection on the vast majority of foodstamp recipients, and not a judgment call on folks who receive foodstamps.  If a family is struggling to put food on the table, I am all for giving them a hand.  People in America shouldn't be hungry.  Period.  And so you know, she was busted at it, and she was punished. 


  1. My brother is a meth addict, he has been since he was a teen. He gets "clean" when he is in jail, and stays that way sometimes, but not for very long. He had a daughter with an exchange student from Indonesia. When the baby was 2 months old, her mother went back to Indonesia and he wouldn't sign anything to let them take the baby out of the country. Of course, she's been living with our parents for the rest of her life. She just turned 18, and he never signed over guardianship because he didn't want to "give up his rights" to her. So she has rarely seen a doctor, or a dentist, and my mom can only get school things signed when she can find him, meaning when he is in jail. When he gets out he doesn't even visit his daughter. Oh, he'll come around when he needs something from mom, but seeing the kid is just incidental. He's never paid for any of her food or clothing or toys. Lately, his daughter has been going to the jail to put money on his books for him. She doesn't visit him, she knows what a bad father he's been, but my dad sends money, and she doesn't try to keep any of it for herself.
    I don't know what my point is, other than that I agree with you. I hope that having stable family in their lives SOMETIMES will be enough to help your nephews a little bit. As they grow up they will realize that their mom wasn't a mom and that their real family does love them. Hopefully that will be enough to keep them from turning into zombies when they are adults.

  2. I hope you're right. I really do despair for them, especially the older boy. They're all in a bad place where they want so desperately for the people who are the worst for them to approve of them. It's wrenching to watch.