*This post was written by a Ventura County young adult.
I am a 21 year old college student that to this day still struggles with what I went through as a child with a parent as a drug abuser. I am constantly anxious and paranoid. I react quickly and I most of the time assume the worst will happen when people are taking drugs. I know it may seem like it is only recreation or not so bad because you have only done it a few times but you are not only affecting yourself but the people around you.
My mom has had many surgeries and started taking pain-killers in her 30s which she never expected to get addicted to. Her plan was not to abuse but the drugs make you think you are doing nothing wrong. My mom is the love of my life as I am hers and never thought that she was hurting her or the loved ones around her. She has been to rehab twice, and just recently got out for the second time.
I am so proud to say she is doing much better after she decided to put herself into rehab because of a terrible event that had happened. Even though she is much better and doing great, working as a flight attendant and making it up to the loved ones she hurt, we are all still filled with pain. It is not easy to forget, but we can forgive.
It is important for those who are dealing with drug abuse to know how they are affecting those around them. The drug is probably making them oblivious to others’ feelings as well as their own. Those who have problems with drug or alcohol are certainly not bad people. In fact, many of them are wonderful people. They just have a disease that affects numerous people all over the world. Through the pain, we must try our best to love them and not take the hurtful things personally. It is not the person but the drugs taking over.
Below I have pasted the letter I wrote to my mom while she was in rehab. I know it is long but it is important to know how those around you are really feeling. I am not one to let out my feelings like this but I believe that my letter will have an impact on many people as it has already. Every single word is true and was incredibly hard to write. I am a shy person and had to read it in front of my mom, many of my family members, and numerous other patients as well as their families that I had never met in my life. 10 patients/family members of the patients came up to me afterwards crying and hugging me, telling me how much of an impact my letter had on them. Here it goes:
You are my very best friend in the world and I have always admired the bubbly, outgoing, selfless, loving you that I know as my mom. You are not that person when the addiction takes over. I have always known in my heart that it is not you but it is the drugs. The mom that I know would never ever do anything to hurt anybody. Growing up, the times that you were acting normal you were the best mom that I could ever ask for. You loved spending time with me and spoiling me to death. At night when I would get scared, you would rub my back for as long as I needed and sing to me until I fell asleep. Even though you have a terrible voice and you will laugh at that, I loved more than anything to feel the comfort of hearing your voice right before I went to sleep. You were the only thing that could calm me down and help me to go to sleep. You were my role model and I always told my friends that I wanted to be just like my mommy when I grow up.
I remember when you and dad started to go to court when I was very young. He was granted custody and I had no idea why I was being taken away from my mom.
I am not sure when the addiction started, but the earliest I can remember were the minimal days that you would have custody over me. I never got much sleep because you would change into a completely different person and start walking around the house doing weird stuff and saying things that did not make sense at all. I spent my nights taking care of you until about 2am when I could finally get you to go to sleep. Sometimes I would even have to wake up at 6:30am to go to school that day but it was all I knew at that point. You would never remember anything that happened the night before. I was an only child with divorced parents and scared to death. I am not sure if I thought that it was normal to take care of my mom every night because I do not remember telling anyone. The nights got worse and worse as I was more sleep deprived and hurt.
I remember one night when I was trying to help you, you called me a “little shit” and I was completely astonished. I had done nothing wrong nor had I ever heard or thought in a million years the loving mother that I knew would call me names like that. The next day I told you and you apologized a million times. You felt terrible that you hurt my feelings so much. I was too young to understand. This went on for years and I have no idea how on earth a child could ever deal with this, especially for so long but somehow I did it.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school when I was living with you again that I was taken to my cousin’s house and was not told any reason why. When I got to my cousin’s house I was then told that my family was having an intervention with you at our home and that you were going to be taken away to rehab. I had no idea that my family even knew what was going on or that I even knew that drugs were the reason. I must have been in such denial or not had much knowledge that I just wasn’t thinking or even know what to do. I don’t remember having any guidance or anyone to help me understand. I probably didn’t tell anyone because I was so scared that people would think differently of my mom. I was so hurt that my family didn’t even tell me what was going on before they took you away. But I know that it was out of the kindness of their hearts and they probably thought that it was best. I remember staying at my friend’s house while it felt like you were in rehab forever. Now that I am older I’ve found that it was only a 5-day detox.
You claimed to be sober for years after that but I remember about two years later I asked you why you were acting so weird and you swore to me that you hadn’t taken anything. The next morning I was woken up to Alan screaming that you were having a seizure – the most horrific thing I had ever witnessed. It was then I found out when we got to the hospital it was a withdrawal from something. I trusted you and it was then you lost my trust all over again. After that you swore and swore you would never do it again but numerous days went by where you would randomly act weird. I think the pain that I had already been through had pushed me so far away from wanting to even think or feel it again that I was in denial that you were taking narcotics again. I couldn’t handle the lies anymore so I just learned that I could never trust you again when you told me that you were not taking anything. I would never get the truth from you. I couldn’t even believe this.
This is my mom, who when in her right mindset, will do anything on the planet to make me happy. My sober mom would talk to me for hours and hours about boy problems, high school drama, etc. She would jump in front of a bus for me. She would want to kill anyone that could ever possibly hurt her daughter. I was her whole entire world. The mom that I would come home from school to and would have the biggest smile on her face because she missed me all day. She would surprise me with my favorite foods that I had been craving and take me shopping for that new outfit I have been wanting so badly. But I never knew what mom I would be seeing when I came home from school.
I prayed and prayed that this would stop and at times it really did. There has been a good amount of time where the mom I loved and looked up to with my whole entire heart was normal for a while but then all the sudden it would end and you would become the mom I knew again that was under the influence. I thought you were only using these drugs occasionally and I just pushed it to the back of my mind because I couldn’t handle the reality of it but I now see how scarred I am from that.
As time went on, I learned to become more independent and I strongly believe that everything I have been through has made me into the person I am proud to be today. I went off to college and loved more than anything to call you and catch up. I was so excited to come home on weekends and spend time with my best friend. Because the best friend that I know deep down without any narcotics in her system is the sweetest, most kind hearted, loving, beautiful woman I have ever met in my entire life. This you can brighten up anyone’s day in a second. Your smile and laugh alone will put a smile on a stranger’s face. You can see in your eyes when you look at people, the love that you have in your heart. I love you unconditionally but I hate this addiction.
I could tell that when you were happy with your life, you were not taking them so much but when you were depressed, they would take over. It just seemed like nothing was ever good enough for you. It killed me to see you sitting on the couch every single day watching TV and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. You would never listen to me. I thought, “I am in college now. I cannot continue to have to worry constantly if my mom is relapsing again,” but it has taken over my life, no matter how much I have tried to push it out of my mind. I would treasure the moments with sober-you so much when I got to see you or talk to you on the phone.
It was recently that I truly realized how you were crying out for help. When I came back to college again and you had moved into your new apartment alone, I started noticing the signs again. I would call or text you and wouldn’t hear back from you for 4 or 5 days which wasn’t normal. I had talked to you a couple times and you had just not seemed right. I was in denial again. I thought it is my senior year in college, my mom will be able to take care of herself, I cannot keep worrying about her relapsing.
My first week of school, I was sitting in my last class of the day when I got a phone call from Mike. I immediately knew something was wrong if he was calling me randomly. He called me and told me he was so sorry he didn’t want to freak me out but had just gotten off the phone with you and was very worried about you. He suggested that I call you and try to calm you down because he thought you would listen to me. I called you and there was no answer. I called Nana and prayed to God you were just asleep. I am constantly worried that you are on these drugs and have accidentally killed yourself or something else and have had numerous sleepless nights over it. It was my first weekend of school on my senior year and I was not planning on going home. I then realized there was something seriously wrong and I needed to get home.
That Friday, I came home and it was obvious that you had already taken the narcotics. I caught you trying to get more when I was not looking and the physical confrontation that we got in was something I would like to erase from my memory forever. You wanted them so badly that you would physically fight your daughter to get them back. This wasn’t you, this was the drugs you were on. The mom that I know would cry when I cried whether it be physical or emotional pain. The drugs had taken over you like I had never seen before. You cried about how sorry you were and told me that I had always been ashamed of you and that you sometimes think I would be better off without you.
It was in that moment I realized how truly depressed you were. My heart broke into a million pieces. I had never been so hurt in my entire life. This was not true at all. I have always told my friends how amazing you are. I can’t lose my mom. You are the love of my life and my best friend. I couldn’t go on if I lost you. I couldn’t believe that it had gotten this far. The next morning I woke up still filled with anger until I saw you immediately start packing. You had realized what had happened and how upset I was.
As hard as this is to say, I believe that was the only true thing that could finally get you to want to change. You would never want to upset me and I know that you are killing yourself every day over it. Everyone that knows you knows that I am the love of your life and that I am all you talk about. I love you so much that even what had happened couldn’t push you away from me. It was my turn to show you how unconditionally I love you.
It has been weeks now but I still have flashbacks and nightmares about that night. I am scarred from it but as time goes on, the flashbacks decrease. I started to get very bad anxiety again so I have been going to the therapist and she told me I am most likely experiencing PTSD. I told her about this letter and she told me that it would be extremely beneficial not only for you but for me to write this letter and read it to you. It will only help the both of us to let go what has happened in the past.
All I want is my mom back, my sober mom that everyone loves. I know how hurt you are by what has happened and I know that we will get past this together. I have already forgiven you and you need to forgive yourself. First and foremost, you are my mom and I need you to be my mom. Even though I am grown up now, I still need my mom to be able to call and talk to. I still need my mom to come home and get pedicures with. My heart is filled with so much joy when I hear your laugh and see your smile because I know that you are still there and I know that you can get through this. I love it when you are so full of life and yourself – Nothing could make me happier. I strongly believe that after you get out of rehab, you will stay sober for the rest of your life. I have faith that I will see the mom I know and love and as a new and improved version.
I thank God daily that these drugs haven’t taken you away from me and that you are seeking help on your own. I thank him for getting you in rehab and keeping you safe. He knows your heart and I hope that someday you can love and see yourself the way He does as well as all of the people that know and love you. I am constantly praying for that. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are loved. And you have a purpose. You are my mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, or just the friendly woman that everyone loves at the pharmacy because you bring them donuts. You are surrounded by so much love and support and I hope that you realize that. I will always be your little girl and I am ready to have my mom back.
Love, your daughter <3”
I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. As hard as this is to read and write again, as well as to share with people I don’t know, I know it could change some peoples’ lives around for the better. It is important to be educated and know that anyone can become addicted to drugs at any time – Even from trying something once. It is important not to get angry and leave that person but to do your best without using all of your energy to help them and let them know that you love them. Several people are struggling from depression and anxiety, even though you may have no idea. They do not want to be this person. Please help to make a change. Thank you so much for your time.
Photo: Stephen Bowler/Flickr