"Untitled" by Ella Thorne-Thomson
I am my mother’s daughter and the apple of my father’s eye. I used to trip and falter at the same stumbling block every day for years. I used to celebrate and commiserate in the same way, stick the same substance in my body to remember as well as to forget.
My mother isn’t in my life anymore. I had to break the habit of hoping and wishing that she would be different than she is. She loved me as well as she could, but she never seemed to be able to put her children’s needs before her own. She was an addict. She needed chaos and chemicals and whirlwind romances and to forget that she didn’t like who she was. She taught me that I could blot out discomfort and fear and pain if I only kept moving, kept chasing, never stood still enough for any feelings to land.
So I ran. For years I ran to and from good relationships and bad, from one dealer to another, from one substance to another, and the only times I ever stood still were when I found myself in the hospital for detox or for a mental breakdown, and I never stayed long. I can’t count how many times I checked myself out of rehab or the hospital after two days, when things inside my head finally became intolerably painful. So I would run away and forget for a little while longer, until the money ran out and I didn’t have any more moves to make.
I stopped using drugs for a while after being arrested and put on probation. If I used and tested positive at probation, I was going immediately to jail. And I knew I would kill myself if I got locked in a cage with myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand being still, with no escape except suicide, so I stopped using drugs. I kept cutting myself and starving myself and binging and purging, anything to drown out the voice in the back of my head saying I wasn’t good enough, never good enough.
I ended up going back out after I’d been off probation for a little while. I had followed the advice everyone had given to me about not using, and believed the promises made to me that if I did that, I would find a new freedom and happiness in my life. All I found was that the thought of five minutes-- let along five hours, five days, or five years—without using filled me with so much fear and dread that I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t like other people, that I wasn’t made for this world, that I would never be able to live my life without using.
So I gave up again and my life looked like it used to: good days or bad, morning, noon, or night, I only knew how to survive if I was high. I wasn’t happy, but the storm in my mind was quieted and that was something. Then one day I met someone who was happy in recovery in a way that was magnetic. I really liked this person and he made me laugh. I enjoyed the moments of my life when I was with him, and I began to wish I wasn’t tied to this substance, that being without heroin for eight hours wouldn’t bring me to my knees, sweating, crying and raging against the world and against myself.
I got into a methadone clinic and stopped having to use every day. I had a partner and friend who supported me and loved me- flaws and all. The furious storm in my heart started to quiet and I moved a little more peacefully through my life. I started to like myself a little bit and like my life even more.
The girl that woke up warm and clean in her own bed in her own apartment this morning, who got her beautiful, smiling son out of his crib and laughed and snuggled and smothered him with kisses with an untroubled mind, does not feel at all like the girl who lost years of her life to heroin, chasing oblivion one high at a time. I can’t believe I am the same person. I can’t believe my wonderful life today was born from that chaos and fear and pain. I am so grateful that those frantic years of running brought me to this moment. I am the mother of the most beautiful little boy in the world, and he is the apple of my eye.
doesn’t feel at all like
I didn’t realize that my mom was teaching me what
My mother isn’t in my life anymore. I had to break the habit of hoping and wishing that she would be different than she is. She loved me as well as she could, but she never seemed to be able to put her children’s needs before her own. She needed chaos and chemicals and whirlwind romances and she taught me that
I have a son now. I am so glad I can love him completely.