My daughter graduated from high school this weekend. It was one of my proudest moments. I rarely speak publicly about the
affects of my own struggles with addiction and depression has had on my kids but my daughter definitely received the worst of it. She protected me, she took care of her younger brothers, she knew, she was old enough and she knew. Fortunately it was not long before I realized what was happening and although some say selfish, I say I did the right thing, I gave them to my sister. Why not just get clean you say? Just stop, get in a program and take care of your kids! Well, addiction is a disease just like cancer and we are never cured of it. In the midst of active addiction the last thing I thought was that I had a problem. All I could see was that I had been screwed over by the world and couldn’t take care/afford my kids so I gave them to my sister which is of course extremely self-centered and self-seeking. That’s exactly the essence of the disease! It wants you all to itself until you are dead.
It took my sister some time to get my daughter to stop “mothering” the boys and be a kid again. My children grew up in a small town, where we lived next to a park and I was a full fledged soccer mom. I went to University, Graduate school. I was married with a great husband and even had a white picket fence in my front yard. I never took drugs, I did when I was a teenager but my daughter ended that and I used to say she saved my life. I never drank at home unless we were hosting a party. My husband and I would go out with friends when we had a sitter on a Friday every once in awhile but I never thought (and neither did anyone else) that one day I would grow up to be a junkie. At 25 years old I had it all, the family, friends, the vacations the cars,a great job doing what I loved and helping kids, my gardens, volunteering to save the world! Never did I think it would all fall apart in just six short months with a domino affect of one situation after another and a few bottles of pills to make it all better.
My kids suffered at the hand of my addiction whether they saw it or not. When I was gone for several years I was hurting them from a distance by not being there, by not getting help, by getting worse and by slowly killing myself. When they were 13, 11 and 9 I came back. It was the beginning of a long process of getting the help I needed and realizing how sick I was. It took a good year or two still after that but I finally fell to my knees when I came so close to death I could taste it. I was so emaciated when I entered the methadone clinic that first day they wanted to call an ambulance, I was so weak, less then 90lbs and 3 months pregnant, I was dying. I was delusional from being dehydrated and all the drugs. I couldn’t walk without holding onto someone or something. I couldn’t remember when I had eaten last, it had been more then a week, a few bites of white rice with an Italian dressing packet. In fact that’s why I got help, when I looked around and saw where I was living, well swatting. Needles and crack pipes everywhere, no food, fridge opened and empty, no electric. A small dusty bag with about a quarter of a cup of dry white rice, that was all there was, no condiments, nothing but dirty molded dishes, garbage clothes and drug paraphernalia a futon mattress on the floor with some ratty blankets. My boyfriend was in jail, I lived with his sister and that one morning it all flooded my clouded brain….I was dying.
There’s no baby, it wouldn’t have survived, something I live with to this day. I did so much damage from my active addiction and I carry it like a heavy burden holding me down. I know the guilt will kill me if I don’t let it go. That life ended almost 4 years ago. I feel like it was someone else in my body or a dream. After all the destruction I caused, the pain, the fear and the tears, I got to watch my daughter cross the stage on Saturday. Against all odds she did it. I worry about every choice I make, every decision and how it will affect my kids. I’m learning how to love myself today, I’m learning how to let go and stop beating myself up. I’m learning that we can’t change what’s happened and dwelling on it only keeps me sick. I also am learning that just by living a good clean, healthy life I can do more good then any words could ever do. It’s a process, it will always be a process of learning, making mistakes, and growth in this thing called life and I’m finally becoming ok with that.