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Parenting Through Addiction

My addiction started when I was 11 years old. For years I watched my mom struggle, and eventually I linked the drugs she was taking to her good moods, so I decided to take them. For a while it was as simple as taking a few pills here and there out of whatever pill bottle was the fullest, until eventually a couple here and there wasn’t enough, and so I spent my preteen and teenage years trying to chase the feeling from that first day.

I struggled to stay in school, struggled to have relationships with my family, struggled to believe that there was anything “next”, and before I knew it, I was 18 and pregnant. I watched my son’s father fall deeper and deeper into addiction throughout my entire pregnancy. Shortly after my son was born my mom lost her battle with addiction and my world came crashing down. I hit a wall. I wanted nothing more than to use. My only goal in life was to mask my feelings of hurt and emptiness. Any goals I thought I had of being a good parent seemed like an unattainable dream, and so I stopped chasing it.

At the age of 22, my family decided I could no take care of my son with the choices I was making in life. I was not fit to take care of myself, let alone my own child. I’d try to stay clean, I wanted so badly to be the person everyone kept telling me I was, but I just couldn’t keep my life together for long. Was my love for the drug really greater than the love for my own son? I knew that wasn’t true, but anytime I thought I’d overcome the addiction demons – I’d start using again. And so, with no one to blame but myself, I watched my son get on a plane to continue living his life without me in it.

Battling addiction played a huge part in my life, in my entire family’s life. In fact, I was almost certain it wrote up a majority of our DNA. However, I was fortunate enough to have both a father and a sister that had found recovery, and both refused to give up on me. They showed me that my “unattainable dream” could still be my reality. Each time I tried to run, they were there to remind me that I could still get my son and be the mother and role model he deserved, but only if I focused. The two of them helped me find my own way in recovery and showed me that growing a support system of other recovering addicts would keep me on tract and prove I wasn’t in this fight alone. I found a fellowship where I was Never Alone, Never Again. I found people that believed in me, and over time, I also began to believe in me again.

After taking my life back one day at a time, proving to myself and my family that this time would be different, because this time I was changing my life for me – because I wanted life to be different. I wanted to love, and feel, and be truly happy. My family could see this, and because of that, they let my son come home. For the first time in over half my life I was HAPPY. The fear addiction had over me started turning into faith. I believed I could be clean and that I could be a good mom. That the “unattainable” IS possible. The biggest battle was always the one with myself. I didn’t grow up with a reliable, loving mother, so how could I possible be one? I didn’t have a healthy childhood, so how could I provide one? I didn’t know love, so how could I show love?  I knew I had to learn how to be a parent the same way I had to learn how to NOT use drugs, day by day. And you know what? That’s OK. There is no rule book on how to be the perfect parent or perfect human being. Now, when I look to the future, I have faith that I can and will continue to be a better parent, a better recovering addict, and a better person.