May 03, 2009 | Ronda Jambe

Junkies are the Scum of the Earth (4)

This is the year of letting go. It is hard to think of anything worse than backing away from your children, but it has come to that. For about 14 years I’ve comforted myself with ever decreasing signs of parental pride or satisfaction: no education, interests, job, or prospects. A criminal record, but at least he’s not a violent drug addict, I told myself. In recent years, due to the drug-induced epilepsy and Hep C, even the crime has stopped. For a long spell he even had a mobile phone, and I could reach him regularly. He has had a lovely government flat for several years now, although he has turned it into a plausible setting for a bad movie. Filth you wouldn’t want to see, the perfect setting for a final act.
But now that tenet of non-violence no longer holds, after a cowardly outburst from behind on my partner while he was driving. I see my previous blog in this series was also about taking him to the coast for some food and fresh air. That also ended in tears, always mine. Since then, another call from intensive care. Suicide in slow motion. Now I’ve drawn the line, and there will be no more reaching out, no more forgiving.
His brother is a n’er do well, but at least he has music in his life. He didn’t bother to follow up this week, after I called him from the police station. Charges have been filed. There is going your own way, and then there is rejecting all values that mean anything to your parents. Even their father worked for most of his life and had education and skills. He just didn’t do any parenting, or achieving.
And how boring is all that? It is a counterpoint to a book I’ve just finished, about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Written by John Robison, the brother of the author of Running With Scissors, it is a memoir of coping and above all, trying. In a much more dynfunctional family than my sons knew, he was also burdened with an inability to relate to people. He was told ‘Look me in the Eye’, which became the title of his memoir. But his strong intelligence and desire to not be a nothing carried him along. He was accused of being a sociopath, but he knew he wasn’t. One wants to cheer at every chapter: Good on you! He got into repairing tape decks at school, then sound design for the band KISS, later game design and eventually a car repair business. He was good at all of it, and that gained him acceptance. The only pyrotechnics I can manage are the ones I conjure up in Photoshop:
stars small.jpg
My sons’ father has always been a social misfit, never happy, never able to settle into just doing the right thing by anyone, including himself. If there is a gene for social integration, all 3 of them are lacking it. (My genetic profile merely indicates I am missing the sport gene and the car gene, but I get by.) And genetic tendency is never an excuse for throwing a whole life away, or justifying never working, never contributing. How wonderful that someone like John Robison, with real problems, both mental and circumstancial, found a way to live in peace with the world and himself. How sad when talented young men with lots of advantages discard it all for a life of addiction, which becomes a daily choice. Is there a personality for a time and place, or do all happy individuals share some traits?
Why can’t they step outside their tiny view of the world, and see how much they have to be grateful for? There is a video narrated by Darryl Hannah on the Amazon Watch site newsroom ( ) What Occidental Petroleum has done there, and the courage of those people in standing up for justice and reparation, is a miracle that multiples John Robison and his brother’s. Time to celebrate those who make the world better and kinder, and let the sad one keep sleeping.
son on deck.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 2:44 pm | Comments (16) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. If it’s a hard road to live with them and hope, it’s 10 times harder to confront the truth and make the choice you have. More power to you, Rhonda. And better times ahead.

    Comment by Lyn — May 3, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  2. Thanks, Lyn. Chin up is the only way. I’ve added a bit about the Amazonian Indians and their environment, as a point of contrast. My troubles are teeny when I look at their battles.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 4, 2009 @ 8:01 am

  3. Sorry, but you have to shoulder SOME of the responsibility for how these people turned out! Washing your hands is not an option for you – these people are your hands – they are a part of you , whether you like it or not.
    This post made me very sad.
    You need to take a long hard look at yourself.

    Comment by William — May 5, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  4. well said william (comment one)Thanks for
    that are just the sort of person I do not want to know.Honestly the person you describe here is a creep but its you thats creepy not your boy or his father..perhaps drug use ect is in response to the lack of humanity you exhibit so proudly in this..whinge or whine(for americans) the way are you a Sarah Palin supporter?

    Comment by NOT SOME JUNKIE — May 6, 2009 @ 5:56 am

  5. no Rhonda, its you who is ths scum of the are condemed by the lack of humanity you exhibit toward your own son and his father…this is shite!an so are you…I feel very sorry indeed for your son.Face the facts you are a poor excuse for a parent and a woeful example of humanity….SHAME on you!!

    Comment by takdog — May 6, 2009 @ 6:16 am

  6. How easy, how glib to look at a few words and assume you know the history of this situation. But if that makes you feel self righteous, fine.
    Of course I accept some responsibility, but so should they. What kind of father would go overseas on a 4 month holiday after finding out that his 17 year old son, who was living with him, had been experimenting with heroin? I took him to court, and lost. Dig deeper, you know nothing about me or my life.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  7. It’s easy for us to sit in judgment of people and how they behave. It’s much harder to put ourselves in their shoes. I struck the jackpot. Both my kids appear reasonably well adjusted and we appear to have a good relationship with both of them. Some of that had to do with us and a lot of it was how the cards fell. It could have been very different. I feel for you Rhonda. The cards didn’t fall as well for you. I guess the only ray of sunshine i can offer is to retell the line from PARENTHOOD, an underrated movie:
    You never stop being a parent. Despite the despair you are feeling now he is still your son and despite your despair you still love him.
    I hope things improve for you and him.

    Comment by Barney — May 6, 2009 @ 11:35 am

  8. Yes, Barney, some of it is luck, or maybe genes, in addition to the effort required to be a good parent. For these 14 years, what kept me reaching out, trying, offering, supporting, was the glimpses of the gentle soul within.
    But so many years of self abuse have mostly washed that son away, and there comes a time to let it all go.
    As for the earlier comment about Sarah Pallin, clearly that poster doesn’t understand that such situations can happen to liberals, not just right wing parents.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  9. I never realised how destructive crystal meth[ice] is until viewing a documentary just recently.It turns people into living zombies.They suffer irreparable brain and body damage.
    I see no solution to drugs.Ice can be made in any backyard using basic chemistry.As soon as we ban one,someone is inventing a better one.
    You can love your child to the best of your ability,yet in the end,it is they who have to make the decision in the end.Life or slow death by drugs.
    I will not judge you Rhonda,but for those who do,I will pose this simple question,”Could your drug addict son return all the love and responsibly that you have given over the decades?”
    If you cannot give love and be responible for someone,then you are both useless to yourself and society.
    The choice is clear and unambigious.Life or death.

    Comment by Arjay — May 6, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

  10. Whenever we take the step of putting a part of ourselves – however small and shorn of all context it may be – out into the public sphere we invite yet another knock on the chin.
    The glib, the sanctimonious, the self-righteous, the unimaginative, the crazies…and the very, very frightened…are always going to use such weapons to ward off their own demons or to fulfill some personal need.
    Its unfortunate that those who are bleeding themselves, the empathetic, and those who would provide assurance that one is not alone are often unable themselves – for myriad reasons – to comment.
    But those who benefit and are capable of recognising and sharing another’s pain are nevertheless out there and silently applauding bravery wherever they recognise it.
    This is just a reminder, because in the face of negativity, its often easy to doubt oneself or ones motives, that you’re doing good. Keep the faith, girl, we’ve got your back.

    Comment by Romany — May 7, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  11. The topic of drugs and personal or family responsibility clearly cuts to the nerve for many people. Once you reach out for help, as with the Drugs in the Family support group I’ve attended irregularly over the years, you find out just how comon this issue is, particularly alcohol abuse.
    The effects on family members are seldom counted, but I also count the cost to society, and I pose the question: from a purely cost-benefit perspective, which would be better – the current approach, which accumulates huge costs in law enforcement, medical interventions, dole, support services, etc, or an alternative universe where druggos that cause harm to others (as in stealing) go directly to a long rehab in the desert, where they will learn to be decent citizens. If they regress, they go back for twice as long. My son wouldn’t have brain damage, Hep C or epilepsy if that had been his fate. I personally believe there is also a place for decriminalisation.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 7, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  12. Such a tragedy Ronda and so common these days. And what is the answer? I often wonder whether some people have more addictive genes than others.
    Some years ago, a boot camp was set up, close to desert country in WA. Alas, it closed fairly quickly, however, I have always advocated that druggie kids should be sent there for months to detox, where there’s no chance of escape.
    Sounds radical I guess but nothing else is working so what has anyone to lose and why can’t we certify these kids so they can be forced to rehabilitate? Why are we giving them the freedom of choice?
    Anyway I think you’re marvellous to have endured so much. I am a single Mother of two (a hard one my adult kids now tell me) but it worked. I bluffed ’em – thank God – but more luck than good parenting I think!
    Did you know there’s a GP in Perth who conducts a clinic for druggies? He appears to have a good deal of success with the abdominal implants he uses on his patients.

    Comment by Environmental Impact Statement — May 8, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  13. The boot camp idea is similar to what I propose, and I wouldn’t have age limits on it. I think we offer too much leeway for individual choice at the expense of public health and safety.
    I, too, was a single parent for many years, and I often think it would have been better if their father had totally vanished, rather than being the passive aggressive and weak human that he offered as an example. I used to think that I was showing them a woman can hold down a job, pay off a mortgage, pay for the piano lessons, and have a garden, but what they seem to have learned is that men are failures.
    I’ve offered to pay for naltrexone implants, psychologists, you name it. The answer is always no, and he has never completed a rehab, even when ordered by the court.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 9, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  14. Yes Ronda I too think your son would have been more successful if his father had vanished. I left the children’s father (a prominent criminal barrister) when my youngest was a baby.
    I sought no settlement or maintenance and bought a dump of a house in a small country town for $6,000, on the other side of the nation; my brother went guarantor on the bank loan and I went to work.
    To my disgust, the father abandoned his children completely until he saw his successful adult son on the tellie and behold….the resurrection! Or perhaps the resurrection was a result of two subsequent ex-wives and three other children emptying his piggy bank?
    Luckily he could have no influence over my children – the die had been cast for more than two decades before they ever set eyes on him.
    The children he had in another union are all losers and did a runner on paying for their father’s funeral expenses. However, the funeral expenses were paid for by my son even though the deceased had not sent his son or daughter a Christmas card in their entire lives.
    I shudder to imagine how my kids would have evolved under the influence of such a father and I now count my lucky stars that he’d abandoned them.
    However, drug addiction is the scourge of humanity. No-one can attribute these addictions to the manner in which anyone is raised by any parent. A couple of hits of these vile substances and the most strong willed can become hooked and unfortunately, our youth are the most vulnerable in today’s society.

    Comment by Environmental Impact Statement — May 9, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  15. An amazing story of courage and perseverance, and Happy Mother’s Day to you, EIS, and all loving mothers (and devoted fathers) everywhere.
    Most people will find a positive path in live, even in the face of bad parenting. Some never do, and who can really say what tips the scales? My theory is that good people have a sense or moral and social obligation, those who don’t become drifters. Most addicts get over it, and want to move on.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 10, 2009 @ 8:00 am

  16. Thank you Ronda and may the force be with you for nothing lasts forever – not the good times nor the bad times.
    And those who sit in judgement of others may wish to ponder the words of wisdom, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt:
    “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

    Comment by Environmental Impact Statement — May 10, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

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