It is fascinating how when your heart truly breaks you can physically feel the sadness in your chest and stomach. My mother was the first person to ever break my heart. The woman who carried me inside of her womb for 9 months where I listened to her heart beat, the woman who was supposed to protect me at all costs, is the one that has hurt me the most.
I am the daughter of a drug addict.
Addiction echoes from the pasts of my family members, some succumbing to the awful disease. It courses through my veins, handed down to me like a dark omen. In homes where one parent abuses drugs or alcohol, children are twice as likely to develop addiction disorders.
My mother was “Room-Mom” in Kindergarten, coordinating all activities for my class. She was also a Girl Scout cookie slinging machine when I was a Brownie. Stunningly beautiful, extremely smart, and the best singer in the world in my opinion.
That same Mom fell apart after she and my Dad divorced. Our home turned into a revolving door of strange men. Men who would spent the weekends spent with my Dad locking her in a closet and beating her senseless. She tried covering the bruises but she was battered badly.
Mornings became empty, she was no where to be found, leaving me to call for help to get my sisters and I ready for school and daycare. Her mood would swing violently from crying and sad to angry and resentful, which she would usually take out physically on me. Anything in her reach could quickly become her weapon. I’ve been kicked in the stomach, my mouth busted open, thrown across the room, landing on a hot vent. From a young age and even into my 20’s she’s been physically abusive.
She would lock us out of the house on hot days so she could “clean” aka “do meth.” We’d beg for food, water, attention, anything from her. Neighbors quickly became the ones to open the doors to feed us, let us spend the night, or let us in when we got home from school because we were locked out sitting and waiting on the cement not knowing if she would ever come home.
I didn’t understand what “normal” was. Normal for me was my Mom being awake for days, locked in her room ignoring us. Normal for me was waiting for days for her to return when she was “just running to the store for milk.” Normal for me was warming up water in the microwave to make a hot bath because bills went unpaid. I was constantly tardy or out of school completely. My self esteem was shattered.
Meth had taken the Mom that I loved and turned her into a stranger. Eventually, she relinquished her duties as a mother and my sisters and I moved in with my Dad when I was 11. We traded one bad Mom for a bad Step Mom. My mother had supervised visitation with us and was ordered to take regular drug test. That was too much for her, so for years we only saw my mother on holidays and some weekends. My Dad gave us stability. For the first time in my life it was normal. I went to school on time, had nice clothes, went on camping trips and to the lake on the weekends. We had a nice house with our own rooms home cooked meals around the clock. We had a HOME.
TURNING POINT. I was 19 in 2008 when she was arrested and went to jail for a few months. It was a cold December day when I was taking my final exams in college when my Mom called and said, “They let me out of jail today, I need you to come pick me up.” I finished up and drove the hour back to my hometown. I was so engrossed in my school work and working as a preschool teacher that I did not visit her but once in the 5 months she was in there. She sat in my car and said, ” I think I am done with this.”
REDEMPTION. My mother cleaned her act up. For the first time in my life, I had a real Mom. We talked on the phone everyday. I could depend on her to show up on my door step with soup and medicine if I was sick. She had her own place, she had a job, she was a Mom. We would hang out and go shopping, binge watch The Real Housewives, sit by the pool and talk about celebrities. She became a Grandma in the meantime and was AMAZING at it. She said this was her chance to redeem herself. She hosted extravagant holidays and celebrations, took us on vacation, she loved being a Mom for once. It’s easier when all of your kid are grown. She was loving and encouraging, she was present. That was the greatest present she ever gave me in my entire life…for 6 years.
RELAPSE. I never thought the day would come that I would be on cruise in the Bahamas in 2015 and my sister breaking down and divulging that Mom was using again. I was angry and sad, I was hurt. I had no phone service in the middle of the ocean and couldn’t pick up the phone to scream at her. I was shattered. I had noticed she started acting odd here and there but never in my wildest dreams would I believe she would be Meth Mom again.
These days she is homeless, she’s always the victim and never the perpetrator, she can be found in the back of gas stations playing illegal video gambling machines at any hour of the night. She believes gang stalkers are after her and the government is watching her. She’s late to holidays if she even shows up at all, she forgets me and my sisters birthdays. She forgets she gave birth, not even a phone call, we forgo reminding her these days.
Most heartbreaking of all is seeing her repeat the same patterns with my nephew. He is always trying to call her, asking her to spend time with him. He sits at the window waiting for her car to pull up but she doesn’t show. I remember being that little girl at the window wondering if I would see her again.
Today, I struggle with co-dependancy and abandonment issues. I struggle to find a sense of family and normalcy. I constantly seek approval and search for a nurturing attachment in any relationship, especially in mother figures. When I love, I love unconditionally and fiercely because I know what it feels like to have love ripped away.
Today, I am a recovering alcoholic addict. I sat across from my therapist after I got help for alcoholism. She asked me where my anger and hurt was coming from, why did I think I was suffering aside from Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism? I sat in front of her and said, “My mother.” Session after session I argued with my therapist about setting boundaries. Session after session I had rage and tears and had to remove myself from the room, shaking, crying. Session after session I’d find myself sick to my stomach and trying to make excuses for her behavior. Even after therapy, I had to learn the hard way how to detach myself from her. The more I tried the more it was like clinging to shards of glass shredding my hands, I had to let go.
Today, I set boundaries with my Mom and have nothing to do with her. Being the child of an addict is the most heartbreaking experience. It has been 24 years of chaos and turmoil and my recovery is more important than a relationship with her at this point.