At a very evocative meeting tonight, I had a discussion with another woman about the “children caught in the crossfire” that we refer to at the opening or closing prayers of each of our meetings. This led to me remembering what my children told me directly about what they recall of my active addiction.
Perhaps I can say thankfully that I did not have to give my children up due to my addiction, however, what my kids witnessed about me was no better. Did they watch or see me use? Definitely. Was I a changed personality? Absolutely. Was I a worse mother? Unquestionably. So I am no better than those who shoot up in front of their kids or are too stoned to care or notice that their child is being molested by their mother’s boyfriend. But I was blessed. I had a spouse who cared for my children and who tried to compensate for my acting out behaviors.
In other words, even though they all knew (my kids and spouse) that I was painfully addicted to narcotics -and my mask wasn’t hiding it from anyone, my spouse tried to do things with my kids when I was either too high or too dopesick to function or care.
How f**king selfish was I? I can never make this up to them, and because he is dead, I can certainly never make it up to HIM –OR MY MOM. So what can I do? I can only try to be the best mother I possibly can now, and to set an example of being the best human being I can be in recovery. I don’t like to lie. I never did like to, but I did do it. Now, I find that honesty and openmindedness and willingness are easier in my every day life which tells me that my program is WORKING.
I can never eliminate the shame and guilt I feel over the hurt and pain I caused THEM ALL. What I am doing, is learning to live with it and to let it propel me to change, as I also learn to let it go. I was a chameleon who could adapt to any environment just to protect my addiction. Now I am a caterpillar who is blossoming out of my cocoon into a butterfly; maybe even a dragonfly (because I think those are so cool and much more symbolic).
My dear children, I am truly full of regret and remorse for those many years when you wanted me to participate in your lives and I simply could not. Mine was a self-centered addiction, and all I could think of was how to get my next drugs, or about how trapped I was in my addiction and so full of despair over it that the only way out to me seemed to be death. I put you through a terrible ordeal and made the excruciating experiences you had to face such as the deaths of your father and grandmother, unbearable. I am so grateful to God that you survived it all in spite of me. It was like a razor blade to my heart when you had to remind me that you were forced to administer my drugs at the funeral of your father, and that I was wasted all through my mother’s funeral. I don’t remember much and know I blocked out even more to protect myself.
Now I am alive and free and full of excitement and hope over the future we WILL share together. It would be ludicrous to say that I will try to make it up to you; there are some things for which you can never atone. I promise to try to be the best person I can be for myself, and for you, by learning to be a better person each day…one day better than the last. I am grateful that I never had to worry about you physically, or give you up like some other mothers have had to.
I am blessed with two unique and special children who grew up while I was busy using; in spite of my addiction, you both turned out to be the best kids any mother could possibly deign to hope for –the best people. I am truly proud to be your mother, as I always will be, only now I can do a laudable job of it by experiencing everything you allow me to share with you with joy, honor, integrity, laughter and love.
THANK YOU for choosing me as your mom and letting me keep my job, even though I failed miserably at it for many years. I have extraordinarily fond and sentimental memories of your youth, that I would not trade for anything. Let us hold onto the best of our remembrances and be mindful of reminiscing over what left us in laughter, rather than in tears.
I love you both more than life itself. All the painful things I endured in my life -which I am now learning to recall, were worth experiencing to lead me to you today and the relationships we have now.
Peace, love and blessing to all…all children -in or out of the crossfire–and all mothers surviving their addictions.