Now that my mom is in her 50’s we get along better than we ever have. She missed out on almost my entire teenage life but she’s a wonderful grandmother and mother now. She carries a lot of guilt over not being present or responsible but I remind her how much I love her every chance I get.
As a veteran, my mom suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and paranoid schizophrenia. This makes it challenging to get along with her sometimes but it’s all about learning to see things as she sees them. Drug use damages the brain but also stunts social and cognitive growth. I’ve been around drug addicts all my life and they are very loving, caring people who are desperate to forget something, or to try to feel nothing about that something. I’ve overheard conversations amongst my mom’s friends and I learned some very disturbing things at a very young age. I heard stories of molestation, rape, violence, abandonment. I learned that there is a lot of hurt in the world and a lot of people who are just doing the best they can to deal with that hurt.
Mommy had tons of boyfriends. None of them any good. None had jobs. All of them had drug addictions and alcoholism. In and out they came like inmates. Same ones came back several times sometimes. We got used to it. I hated them all and they hated me. I did my best to make them uncomfortable so they wouldn’t stay long. They ate all the food and hogged the TV. There was some violence on rare occasions. Mostly it was my mom knocking some guy’s teeth out or punching holes in doors. Any man who tried to put his hands on my mom was in for a surprise ass-whooping. I’ve never seen a man take my mom. But the commotion scared me and my sisters so she finally put an end to letting boyfriends stay in the house. No way! Not in MY house! Yes, it was MY house. I was running things. And that’s the way it was until my sisters and I moved to our grandparents’ house when I was 11.
Having said that, I squared off with my mom about her drug use on many, many occasions. When I was 16 and a junior in high school I moved back in with her. She had gotten a job and had been sober for awhile. She was doing quite well. The best I had ever seen. But then she relapsed. She kept the same old friends and they started coming around the house more and more. Sure enough, she relapsed. She would disappear for several days or a week and leave me (a child) to take care of my 2 younger sisters. At least this time I was old enough to take care of myself. But once upon a time I was 7 years old taking care of 2 hungry, screaming toddlers who missed their mommy. When I got older I had a different feeling about her coming and going like she had not a care in the world. When she came back home I would blow a gasket and she would sit and cry like an emotional teenager busted coming in after curfew. I would find myself having to put people out of the house with the help of my trusty 6-inch butcher knife. I sometimes woke up at wee hours of the morning to find strangers just kicking it in the living room while my mom was nowhere to be found. My sisters would be highly upset with me because I would lock up the house and go back to bed. Mommy was out there without her keys but I was not about to stay up and wait for her, nor was I going to leave the door unlocked. I had school in the morning and I needed my sleep. They didn’t understand why I had to lock her out. They understand now. This trial living situation lasted just a few months. I ended up running away from home and back to Grammy’s. My sisters refused to come. Children and Family services ended up getting involved for the first time and my mom lost custody of us to Grammy. For years she blamed “the system” for separating mothers from their children. She wouldn’t even acknowledge what she had done to get us to this point.
There is something you need to understand about hard-core drug addicts. They use drugs to self-medicate, escape pain, reality, feeling, etc. Whenever life happens, they get high and avoid dealing with things. Unfortunately, these times in life are what make people mature. Pain teaches us unforgettable lessons. Loss strengthens our bones. Sitting with these emotions and feelings causes us to undergo internal mental, emotional and spiritual changes that are necessary for growth. Get high for about 30 years as life passes you by. What do you get? A 15-year old in a 50-year old’s body. It’s like taking a child and dropping them off at a building somewhere and saying “It’s time to grow up. You have a job, bills and a family now. Your office is on the 3rd floor. And good luck with that”.
It truly is a miracle that I nor my sisters was ever raped by any of these people. I was very protective of my sisters. If they stayed home from school, so did I. I didn’t trust my mom to take care of them. I fed them, put them to bed, helped them with homework, and held them when they cried. They cried a lot. And it hurt my heart to see them cry. They couldn’t understand what was going on with Mommy but they knew in their little hearts that things were not right. Sometimes we would all sit together and talk about what kind of women we wanted to be. Mothers with big, clean houses. And husbands. It was good to share our hopes and dreams. I’m sad to say that one of my sisters is deep in addiction, just like my mom. She has children and they are suffering just as we did. Watching this happen to her grandchildren is extremely painful for my mom. She has to watch her own daughter treat her kids the way she treated us. She had no idea things were that bad.