Or, at age 12, receiving accolades like, “Right on!” when weighing dime bags and quarter ounces of marijuana for my family on their triple beam scale.
It also meant always being leery of unannounced visitors at the front door and when riding with my family in the car being told, “Don’t turn around and look, you’ll draw attention to us,” when we passed a cop on the road.
It meant sitting in the last row of class trying never to be called on in school, never bringing home one of the few friends that I made – unless that friend was from another family like mine – and always finding ways to fit in when I absolutely didn’t elsewhere.
Without all of the indulgences of expensive clothing, fancy home furnishings, or tasty choices when it came to mealtimes, my immediate family was typically pleasant and lighthearted to be around – well, until the pot ran out. With few obligations, like a job to tend to, my family and I were together 24/7 aside from when I was at school. I loved school and was a great student, but deep down I worried that both worlds, home and school, would one day collide.
In junior high, with trepidation, I branched out and risked mingling with the good students at the top of the class, the ones that had top-notch grades and no doubt would someday attend college – every class has them. For the first time ever, I had made real friends from the outside world.
My Greatest Fear
At home, there was no such thing as wandering upon my parents’ stash of marijuana because it was all over the house: Zig-Zags, roach clips, and half-burned joints in the ashtrays. In the back of my mind, if any of my new friends ever showed up at my house, there would be no way I could keep it, my lifestyle, secret from them, and I would be found out. Then everybody in the whole school would know.
Everybody would know.
My greatest fear was my home getting busted and ending up on the front page of the local newspaper for all of my schoolmates and their parents to see; or, for a close second, my school friends to drop in and surprise me for my birthday or a special occasion and see our lifestyle and dump of a home we lived in. Mom would often tell me: “Jenny, you’re going to have stomach ulcers before you’re an adult,” because I was always worrying about something.
When my 13th birthday came and went, my good friends said they wanted to surprise me with a birthday cake at my home but their parents said no. Whew! I remember the knot in my stomach well. I did get another surprise, though.
The Police Raid
Shortly after that birthday, riding in the car with my family one afternoon, we were pulled over in town by a policeman as the authorities searched our home. When we returned to the house, I was shocked. During the raid, the officers had gone through everything in every room searching for drugs and/or paraphernalia. It was as if the house had been violently hit by a tornado, with everything strewn about. All of my belongings – jewelry box and undergarments drawer had been gone through in my bedroom too.
A little homemade cubby on my wall that I had made from a graham cracker box wrapped in aluminum foil was ripped off the wall, emptied, and tossed onto the floor. I had scratched “Jenny’s cubby” into the foil on the front of the box. Like anything illegal would be in there. So violating.
The police officers searched the entire house, but somehow they missed a crockpot full of pot in the kitchen above the refrigerator. They found a marijuana plant – more like a tree – in the backyard, which I suspect is what brought on the raid; some pot; and someone’s rig. I didn’t know if it made the newspapers for my schoolmates and their parents to see, but I definitely felt like it did. I feared everybody at school – and the entire San Joaquin County – now knew my life. I felt humiliated.
After that raid, I gained a new survival skill: keep your head down, get in, and get out. That carried me through until I reached high school.
Today, as a full-time court reporter in Butte County, CA, I often hear cases of drug raids and drug-endangered children. I spend hours a day taking down the tough family stories, precisely. The irony is not lost on the 43-year-old, happily married mom of two, stepmom of three, me.
Author Jennifer Hunt is no stranger to the crazy and chaos of addiction. Her mother was bipolar, struggled with addiction and eventually overdosed. And she lost one sister to a meth related car wreck while her other sister, who’s still alive, lives homeless.
But despite all she’s been through, Jennifer managed to rise above the shame and humiliation from her childhood.
Recently, she’s finished writing, “Smoke Rings Rising” – a memoir that lays bare the struggles of growing up (“straight”) through addiction.
To learn more you can visit Jennifer on Facebook by CLICKING HERE.
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