Addiction Affects the Entire Family
My family used to tell me I lacked the instinct of a mother. I have six kids. Hearing that hurt. They were right though. For ten years, I was on my own. I was lost in the powerlessness of addiction. I missed doctor’s appointments, first days of school, and sports games. Strangers cooked my children hundreds of meal I should have cooked. I lost something during those ten years that I didn’t think I’d ever get back. My instincts told me to chase the crack pipe, the bag of dope, instead of chasing my children. Addiction was a part of me. It’s what I did, everyday. Devotion to my children’s wellbeing was a job I lost to someone else.
Drugs crippled my mind so badly that, while in active addiction, I’d tell people I didn’t have kids. My mind started to actually block them out. Being powerless to drugs also rendered me powerless to every other aspect of my broken life. I guess acting as if my children didn’t exist was easier for my brain to accept. I’ve heard people say their kids helped them get clean. The guilt I felt for ruining my kid’s lives kept me getting high for years. I once went to take a hit of crack and looked across the room to see a picture of my son. I couldn’t bare to take the hit while he looked at me. I had to turn the picture around. I couldn’t stand seeing a picture of one of my children, let alone seeing them in person.
Every year, my grandfather grows a huge garden. He cans his vegetables the old-fashioned way. I remember, as a child, watching him do this. He said his canning preserved the veggies for long periods of time and kept them from spoiling. Just like my grandfather, God preserved the good inside me. Today, my character defects remind me of my assets. My assets help me deal with my defects. I believe God vacuum seals our souls. Coming into recovery, we break the seal open!
Recovery Heals the Family
I believe I chose to forget my children as a defense mechanism. However, forgetting doesn’t erase memories, only push them down. While freshly sober, I’d cry as I started to remember my kids. I remembered my oldest son dancing in the front yard, wearing a bright yellow sun hat. I remembered that he began talking before he was one year old. I called him the smartest boy alive! I remembered being proud and protective of him.
Memories of all my children began to roll through my mind. Some were good, most were bad. The memories of my oldest son were vivid because he was with me for longer than my other kids. My younger son and daughters were only around for a short period of time before being taken. I kept having children well into my addiction. Those children were immediately taken by my family. Coming into recovery, I still lacked a connection with my younger children.
When I had two years clean and sober, I started visiting my children on a weekly basis. All were happy to see me, except for my oldest son. He’d ignore me and play computer games. One day, I handed him my two year NA key-tag. Instead of being proud I was clean, he shrugged and threw the key-tag on the table. I can’t say I blame him.
At three years clean, a judge gave me full custody. My oldest son was in the court room and smiled when the judge read his decision. That year, I gave my son my three year AA coin. He put it in his pocket. I was so glad he didn’t just toss it aside. He was beginning to talk to me. He was beginning to feel at home.
Addiction is Genetic
At five years clean and sober, I realized my oldest son was an addict himself. Drastic action had to be taken. Going to any length for my own recovery taught me to go to any length for my son’s recovery. This meant I had to get out of the way. He moved in with his father and decided to admit that he’s an addict. He started his own recovery program. Today, I see him frequently. He looks and sounds good.
When he got a month clean, I gave him my five year AA coin. It said, “To thine own self be true.” He looked at the coin, then looked at me like he finally understood the significance of my struggle. He smiled, nodded, and placed it on his dresser.
How does that song go? “Cat’s in the cradle with the silver spoon?” I don’t know what happened to my son’s cradle. If I saw it, I’d probably cry. I can’t go back and change the past. Instead of crying over this fact, I want to make today count. Today is all we have.
I didn’t lost my motherly instinct. The fact that I worry about my children today tells me so. The fact that I’ll go to any length to protect them from taking the same path I did tells me so. Addiction can only take so much. I wouldn’t let it take my soul. My soul belongs to an even higher power. Thanks to that Higher Power, the good in me is still good. The good in my son is still good. Recovery makes our good even better!