Detox, Paternity, and PTSD

Photo taken in England of me as a child.

When someone writes about their life, or what they see as important pieces of it, I’m either drawn in or wonder what compelled them to write about themselves in the first place. Was it ego-driven, was it to relate to others, was it to help people going through something similar? Or was it because they just needed to get those thoughts–something haunting them–out of their system. A cleansing. An exorcism.

I recently discovered unfathomable “truths” about my upbringing. I write “truths” because at this point, it’s difficult to believe what is true and what is false. I was raised around secrets and abuse. People who know me are aware of this, so I won’t go into those details. But what’s changed recently was clarity.

I’m in detox.

I wasn’t abusing drugs, but I was placed on some very addictive benzos for several years, so many years, that I’m ashamed to say. I only took the amounts I was told to. And earlier this year, I decided to get off of them. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I have about four doctors, constant appointments, intensive therapy, and pain that is indescribable. Excruciating. But also, with the bad comes some good–although veiled within something complex–Clarity begins. As your brain, over many, many months, begins to rewire itself to think again without the use of benzos, memories return that may have become foggy, blocked, or locked away for years so not to trigger the PTSD they induced.

These aren’t new memories for me (and I speak all of this from my own personal experience), they are just unlocked again. They’re free to run around my head, to laugh at me, tease me, put me down, and some of them are like a little white rabbit asking me where the pills are to make them go away again. Fucking rabbit.

When I attempt to write anything about my life, a “family member,” even though they are blocked, usually pops up out of nowhere to threaten me, telling me to keep quiet, even though I don’t use their names, they insist that I am not allowed to write about my own experiences–as if I must pretend instead, that I was dropped off on Earth from another planet by aliens, some immaculate creation, I cannot have parents or siblings mentioned in anything. So bullied into silence is what they hope for, but I’m kind of through with that (and I assume the aliens are too).

For anyone out there going through addiction, I really don’t know what it takes to motivate yourself to seek out help–I only know what motivated me. Help is expensive also. Many programs are available for varying incomes though. I’m not good at this … I’m going through a type of Hell currently. I’m not one to give advice, but if sharing what is happening to me helps in any way … here it is. And for some of it, I ask that you place yourself into a different time, one before social media. And for those of you familiar with the Los Angeles of the 70s, 80s, and 90s … let’s take a trip back.

One of my fondest memories is sitting with my grandfather at the Beverly Garland hotel in North Hollywood, having lunch, and talking about his days as a child actor, how it impacted his career when the war hit, and how he was on the verge of a great role in a movie … until he rolled down the Hollywood Land hill and broke his arm. It’s okay, he built his own business later and sold homes to and of the rich and famous. He and my grandmother were the only good people to me–but at a distance. Some emotional disconnect existed. But I thought it was because I looked like this:

I felt it, and I couldn’t explain it. I actually did feel like an alien at times. Different from all of them. But they stayed in contact with me, for the most part, especially my grandmother. Without her, I don’t think I would have ever heard the words, “I love you,” until I was married.

When my grandmother passed, I was told not to attend the funeral. It broke me. And when my grandfather passed in 2020, no one, not a single person told me. I just had a bad feeling one night and looked up his name on the internet sometime in 2021, and there, to my complete horror, was his obituary. I woke my husband crying asking why. Why would they not have the decency to tell me? So that’s why he wasn’t answering my emails? When I asked about him to others they would just ignore my questions. Because he was gone. And they still wouldn’t tell me he had passed.

Detox began shortly after I found out. I wanted to be my best on stage, in writing music, in everything. I was determined, but admittedly, motivated out of anger. Deceit, lies, intrusive, repetitive thoughts swirled through my head. The only people I cared about in my family were gone–the ones who didn’t abuse me physically or emotionally. Dammit, they even clothed and fed me.

But with suffering withdrawals and constant therapy came the memories–like a flood. An attempted abduction when I was 9 or 10–nightmares about it, every detail of it. Details of abuse, details of being starved, taken away from a parent just to be sent to the other abusive parent, that time my father filed paperwork when I was 18 to state that I wasn’t his biological child … wait … WHAT? How do you forget something like that? how does someone block out something THAT significant? But there it was, as clear as day, that government guy walking out of his office to tell me, and to say that he was sorry my father was not my father, and I cried only because he started to. It was awful.

That’s what can happen when your brain repairs itself. And you have to be ready for it. And I’ve had panic attacks almost every day since–horrible ones. The kind you think you’ll die from. Is it worth it? Fuck yes. Don’t you want to KNOW who you really are so you can repair and move forward? It’s not for everyone, you should always speak to a professional first. Everyone’s trauma and detox is different, uncomfortable, and definitely seriously fucking hard to go through. It can also be deadly, and you MUST seek professional help for it.

So who was my dad? I remember being in a foster home after they took me from him, unfortunately, I remember lots of things … including being told about this other guy that was in a garage band in Pasadena (at the time). I was told when I was 12. It was hinted to me sooner than that though … sometimes … when I would see him spinning and jumping around on MTV. His moves were cool, showman-like. He was quite expressive … but I ignored the innuendos. A date was described to me in detail once, how they were set up, what he did for a living at the time (um … nothing), and how he wasn’t her type after all. They were the same age, lived near each other, went to the same college … But what am I supposed to believe at this point? She seemed to hate him. I could tell she was ashamed. She repeatedly reminded me when she was pissed at me that my “father” didn’t attend my birth, and more details that I just didn’t want to hear.

So with the good memories returning in this detox process, also come the bad–or the weird … at least to others it might be weird. I mean, you have to have known what L.A. used to be like. And you have to be mature enough to know that people are just people. Well, except for me. I might be an alien.

Please see a doctor if you are going through any issues with drugs or alcohol–even if they were prescribed but are a controlled substance. Never go cold turkey. You are not alone.

–Veronica (Death Loves Veronica) August, 20, 2022

(This article/blog is an expression of my opinions and does not name anyone. It states the truth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Seek help for addiction, I am not an expert, I am in treatment myself. Thank you.)