Kayla’s Letters 12.22.15


Dear Kayla,

I’ve been reading over the past several years about opiate addiction. There is a genetic component to addiction, which is evident in you. Your dad’s family is full of people self-medicating their anxiety, alcoholics and drug addicts, and there is no shortage of unhealthy behaviors and compulsions in the you mom’s family, alcoholism, gambling, and shopping. You are at risk due in part to a genetic predisposition and environmental influences.
You can do something about it if you choose to. You can change the course of your life. You don’t have to be defined by drugs.

Life is long, Kayla, and each of us has only one shot at it. I’ve always had a pretty good idea of the person I hoped to be and the life I wanted to live. Parts of it have been realized and other parts haven’t been as important as I once thought. If you take the time to discover who you are, what you have a passion for, and what you’d like your life to look like, you’ll be off to a good start.

My father, and Joe’s, your errant grandfather, was a volatile person. He was psychologically fragile from years of his father’s beatings and violent outbursts when he was a child. I remember, vividly, one Thanksgiving when my parents were still married and we lived in Connecticut. Mum took all 6 of us kids with her to the grocery store to shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. It took longer than she anticipated so we were late getting home and my father had to be somewhere else- back then families had only one car. My father yanked the driver’s door open and yanked my mother out of the car. He hauled all of the grocery bags out of the back of the station wagon and threw them, twenty feet, up in the air. It looked like it was raining groceries. We all got a beating, Mum too. Since I grew up in that environment until I was 8, I learned to negotiate peace and find a way to restore calm. I’ve always wanted a peaceful life. I’ve worked hard to find calm in the chaos.

My father was very destructive. He didn’t know how to articulate his frustration and was consumed by rage. He broke things, mostly things my mother loved. Once we left him, and Mum got divorced, we didn’t have a lot of money. Mum worked year round to clothe and feed 6 kids all by herself; my father never paid a penny in child support. During the day Mum taught 26 kindergarten kids, at night she came home to us, and every Thursday night for about six years she drove from work to night classes (then home 120+ miles one way) so she could get a master’s degree and earn more money to support us. I watched all of that and I decided early on that I absolutely did not want to be responsible for children. I am not capable of the sacrifice required to raise little people and do a good job of it.

You may not know what you want right now but you probably have a good idea of what you don’t want. If you work to stay away from the life you don’t want, you will find the life you want.

It may not seem like it today but you have a tremendous opportunity to develop the discipline that will be fundamental in a happy life. It is likely that you will go to prison. You have a couple of options-
you can resist it, hate every minute of it and waste every second that you’re there
you can take advantage of the time, educate yourself, read, get to know who you are and what you hope for in life, make plans, go to meetings, get help, and live a gratifying life when you’re released.

I can’t imagine the life that you’ve been living for the past 8 or 9 years is the life you want to live forever. I don’t know you very well but I remember a happy girl, who was generally optimistic. I hope I will eventually have the chance to meet the woman that happy girl grew up to be. Be patient and don’t be discouraged; you have the power to create a good life, it will come the way it does does for everyone- a little bit at a time.

Each day is a fresh start on a happy ending.


About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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