My experience into motherhood was everything but your average “American Dream” story. I was 20 when I gave birth to my son. I was a college drop-out and in the process of sabotaging every self-propelled dream one pill, drink, and joint at a time. If I remember correctly, the conception of my son was fueled by downing a rather large bottle of Sutter Home Moscato with the local bad boy in my town. The rest is history. I remember how terrified and absolutely clueless I was to what motherhood was truly all about. Most importantly, I was completely ignorant to the stark nature of my addiction.
My son wrecked my world. I had never experienced unconditional love, as I did with him. In all honesty, I truly believed he would save me from my ravishing opiate addiction. Becoming a mother, soon to be a single mother, I learned that life as I knew it was no longer about me. I felt like I finally had a purpose and surely I could stay sober. Plagued by a vicious kidney/bladder disease, with the prescription in hand, I was completely justified in taking my daily dose of opiates. I will only take them as prescribed. This was a delusion that would quickly grab me by the throat and pull me into the depths of the trenches.
My son was 3 years old when my mom unexpectedly passed away and all bets were off. I could no longer convince anyone, much less myself, that I had my addiction under control. There were mornings I’d wake up to get my fix, long before kissing my son good morning. I was a slave to King Opiates and I willingly knelt before his commands, at all costs. I became the mother I swore I never would be. I did things I swore I never would do.
Eventually, legal consequences caught up and I was painfully detoxing on the cold floor of a jail cell. Child protective services got involved and I was forced to walk through my fears or lose my son forever. By the grace of God, I chose to voluntarily check myself into rehab. I left my son for an entire year, trying to repair the life I carelessly dismantled at the hands of my addiction.
Looking back, I was truly oblivious to the magnitude of what I was truly up against. I suffer from a fatally progressive disease that summons for my death on a daily basis. Two years into my sobriety, I got pregnant with my daughter. Fear met me again. What if I screw this up again? You see, that voice is always ringing inadequacies in my head, but it wasn’t until I experienced true freedom, through sobriety, that I was able to drown out the lies with unwavering Truth. There are times I look at my kids and I am absolutely terrified they will face the same fate, in the hell of full-blown addiction, cultivated by some genetic predisposition.
I have made it my life’s purpose to be the chain breaker. Addiction has haunted many generations before me. Unlike my experience, of silent avoidance, I have chosen to be as open and transparent with my children on my experience from ravishing addiction to liberating recovery. My kids are both still too young to hear it right now, but this is what I would want them to know.
My sweet babies,
You are both walking, talking miracles. You are both living proof of God’s unfailing grace. Both proof that love conquers all.
The truth is, I did absolutely nothing to deserve the honor of raising both of you. You both give me life and you both continue to be the driving force behind my perseverance.
You see Mommy actively involved in AA and working with other women often. You’ve both missed me, every other night when I leave for meetings. You have both even attended some of these meetings with me. Listening to adults rant about problems and God is probably pretty boring at your age. I promise I’m not in a cult. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
You see, all of these things serve a huge purpose. Mommy has been to war, disguised in the face of addiction. Millions of people fight this fight every single day. It is a progressively fatal disease in nature. People are losing their lives daily to this sickness. It’s important to note that these people aren’t bad people, they are very sick. Don’t join in with the rest of the world and stigmatize this group of unfortunates. Instead, remember that Mommy used to be just like them but Mommy was willing to go to any lengths to get better. Addiction is very sneaky. Addiction lies and makes you think you are in control. Addiction robbed Mommy of everything she had until everything was gone. Most importantly, this disease is deadly. I have lost many friends and family to this disease, which is why I continue to have an unrelenting reverence to the stark nature of this disease.
Your genetic predisposition is not in your favor. However, I want you both to know that you don’t have to walk down the same path I did. There is another way, one that doesn’t require incomprehensible demoralization. You do not have to brand yourself as the child of an addict. Your stories do not have to mirror mine. I will never project my failures onto you and I will never stop fighting for both of you.
I want you both to know that my disease has nothing to do with either of you. I never stopped loving you and it breaks my heart to think of the chaos that became me. I was wrong for emotionally checking out and leaving you to fend for yourself. You are worth so much more. This is why I use what I’ve learned, in recovery, to show you that you are beautiful, brave, smart just as you are. You don’t need any substance to validate you. Never forget who you belong to. You were made perfect in His image.
I pray that if you ever find yourself in the depths of despair, that you remember my experience and you know that there is always a way out. You are both worthy. Even in your darkest moment, God will never forsake you. If you feel like you’ve fallen too far down the scale, He will show up and remind you that you haven’t. He will offer you a way out. I pray that you say yes to freedom and you always choose life.
Living in recovery doesn’t mean that I will always be perfect. In fact, I will probably fall short… more often than I like to admit. I will make mistakes, but I will always try to show you just how much I love you both. I will remain vigilant. I promise to never forget where I came from. I promise to choose life. You both deserve the best version of me, as your Mommy, and I promise to never stop fighting. Let my living amends be to strive to be the best version of myself daily, and to always try to be better than I was yesterday. I love you both more than words can express.