I grew up in a small house in Covington, Kentucky. Two loving parents, an older brother, a pet cat. We always had what we needed, got some of what we wanted, but never went without. By all accounts a “normal” life. I also grew up with a mom who was an addict. My mom got sober in December of 2003. I was 16. So many of my childhood memories are tainted because of what I know now. I could get into how ugly some of those years were, but that would do nothing. It would upset people, possibly, but I don’t want to place judgment on a woman whose actions shaped me into becoming who God created me to be.
I’m the daughter of an addict and because of that, I believe I’m not an addict.
I think I am hyper-vigilant to sensing dependency or seeing where it can rear its ugly head. I do drink, but not to excess and I do not drink as an escape from a problem. I am incredibly particular with pain medication and only take it when it is 100% necessary. Even to the point that when an average person may take a prescribed pain pill, I generally will put up a pretty big fight before taking anything. I know that a predisposition to addiction is a part of my make-up. It’s who I am. I can’t do anything about it. It’s quite literally in my genes. I am not high strung, but this is one area of my life I will be obsessive over. I will be extra observant, even to a fault. I need a lot of grace as I struggle to be who I am, while sometimes feeling like I have to put up a fight to avoid who I could be.
I am the daughter of an addict and because of that, I am scarred.
I know what it’s like to be a teenage girl who ‘hates’ her mom. I didn’t hate my mom because she had too many rules, or too many restrictions, or because she was embarrassing. I hated her because I wanted to hate her. When she did succumb to her demons, I wouldn’t miss her. I chose to wake up and hate her every day. I figured her death was imminent and I wanted to not waste any more tears on her once she was gone. That type of anguish leaves you scarred. It leaves a mark on you. A guilt that, thankfully, has been eased over time.
I am the daughter of an addict and because of that, I know forgiveness on a level few will understand.
My mom is almost 17 years sober. I have seen movies depict sobriety as a fix to the problem. It’s only a stepping stone. Even after she was sober, I spent years angry at who she was, not realizing who she was becoming. I spent years holding grudges and being unnecessarily distant. I spent years trying to just be her daughter, but not loving her. People may want to believe you can love someone without forgiveness, but you can’t. You can’t love a person who you think has wronged you. I have felt the release of forgiveness. I love my mom. I do not need to dwell on my past. I know I am who I am because of who she was.
I am the daughter of an addict and because of that, I can be a voice for the voiceless.
I rarely can keep scrolling on social media when I see something speaking negatively of addicts. Yes, I know how easy it is to speak negatively of a person who would choose drugs over their own children. Addiction is disgusting enough without belittling a person to a level that they aren’t even a person. Making a claim that Narcan is given too much can be a bit of a trigger for me. The fact of the matter is we do not know if a dose of Narcan will be what changes the entire trajectory of someone’s life. It literally saves lives and, whether you choose to accept it or not, an addict is a life. A ‘junkie’ (the dirtiest word of all) is a person: a human being, a daughter/son, a sibling, and a friend. We do not get to decide what lives are worth living. I will always try and speak for those who have become such a shell of their former selves that they believe the horrible labels put on them.
I am the daughter of an addict and I am proud of that.
My mom is a warrior. My mom continues to fight the good fight, while others are buried daily. It will never be lost on me the weight of her addiction, but I have the honor of seeing the most beautiful sight in watching her walk in recovery. I love how I have learned to love others because of my mom. I love how empathy falls easily from my lips and fingertips because of my mom. I love how I accept God’s grace without question over and over again because of my mom. I am the daughter of an addict and I am proud to be one.