I just found this a few weeks ago on my daughters email and I guess she wrote this three years ago for one of her college classes… She never showed it to me but as sad as it is to read and know she has to see me like that , it made me very proud of her to see where I was , and understand how and why and she was able to watch me fight back and become myself again.
A Mother’s Journey
It was a typical Thursday in November 2010. I dragged my limp, sleep deprived body out of my cozy bed and went to school. By some miracle, I made it through another grueling day of monotonous high school classes. When I got home, my mom was waiting for me. “Do you want to run to Target with me,” she asked. “I need to pick up a few things.” A mother-daughter trip to Target was nothing out of the ordinary for us, so I didn’t notice the unusually nervous tone of her voice. We got in the car and started driving. I could tell something was off. She pulled into a parking space, put the car in park, turned off the ignition, pulled out the key, and just sat there, not getting out of the car. “I have to tell you something Kaylie,” her soft voice trembling, “but I just don’t know how to say it.” With so many things running through my head, I watched my mom’s big, green eyes well up with tears. This is the point where my memory gets hazy, but I remember her uttering words like “addicted” and “drugs” and “years” and “I’m so sorry.” I could not even believe what I was hearing. Did my mom, the woman who could do no wrong in my eyes, just tell me she’s a drug addict?
My mom’s story begins all the way back when she was only a kid, young and innocent as all kids are. The earliest memory she has is of her and her older brother Chris riding bikes together around their middle-class neighborhood in the heart of Orange County. “Hey Susie, I bet I can jump this curb with my bike and you can’t,” said Chris mockingly.
Susie excelled in school at a young age and had a great group of friends surrounding her. When she was thirteen years old, her parents got divorced; this changed things. Almost immediately after the divorce, her dad re-married to a woman who had two kids of her own. Susie and Chris were forced to move into a new house, in a new city, with a new stepmom and two new step-siblings. “It was like the friggin Brady Bunch, except we all hated each other,” Susie said rolling her eyes so far back into her head I thought they might get stuck. “It was always Chris and I versus Mandy and Christopher (her step sister and step brother), and we had to share rooms! Imagine sleeping next to people every night who you practically don’t even know.”
While her dad was moving on and starting his new family, her mom was handling the divorce in a different way. Susie’s mom started going out to bars, staying out late, and even bringing random men home at night. Her life at home was extremely unstable.
The years following truly reflected these major changes that occurred in her family life. In high school, Susie found a new group of friends. She constantly skipped class with them to go smoke cigarettes; and consequently, she was kicked out of her high school. By the time she was a junior, she was kicked out of two more. Fortunately, Susie finished her education at a continuation school where she earned her high school degree. “It’s frustrating because I remember how much I liked school as a young kid, and I know I could have done better,” Susie explains as she fiddles with her hands, “but as much as I take responsibility for my actions, I think my home life at the time affected my behavior and performance in school.”
If you look at a drug addict and look at their background, it’s not uncommon to find that he/she grew up in a broken home. An individual will abuse drugs for many different reasons, and it is different for every person. Psychological causes, such as underlying trauma, can influence an individual to misuse or abuse drugs. Susie had a lot of instability early on in her life, which was catalyzed by her parents’ divorce. It’s safe to assume that the events of her adolescence became a deep-rooted issue and could be considered underlying trauma.
When Susie turned twenty, she met Phil and they started dating. Phil turned things around for her. “He was the first good thing to happen to me in so long.” They’re relationship got serious and they ended up unexpectedly having a child together when Susie was twenty two. “I could not believe I was pregnant, and pregnant with a girl at that! My mom fainted when she found out,” Susie says with a chuckle, “Seriously, she fainted in the doctor’s office. I remember being so embarrassed.” The relationship between Susie and Phil didn’t last though. Phil started using drugs and they broke up when I was three.
If you haven’t caught on yet, the child they had together is me.
The next several years of my mom’s life is where she really got her life in order and on track. She got a stable job at a company called Biomechanical; it’s a company that makes custom orthotics. Through this job she met Rich, a chiropractor from Ventura. His tall, lanky stature, his athletic physique, and his laid back personality won my mom over. When I was about seven years old, my mom and Rich got married, and Rich adopted me as his daughter. The three of us moved to the small, charming city of Moorpark and then two years later, my little brother Matteo was born. Years went by as we settled into this new life as a family. Everything was perfect. Everything seemed perfect.
“It was the last thing I expected. I never saw it coming. But when I found out, it crushed me,” Susie mutters, looking down at the hard-wood floor as she recals on her husband’s affair. “He’s a chiropractor and a cyclist. He was asked to be a team doctor for a professional cycling team that was racing in Europe.” She explains that’s where the affair occurred. Rich moved out for a while until things calmed down and he eventually moved back in. During the time he was gone however, Susie experienced feelings of pure anger, immense sadness, and unbelievable shame. “I couldn’t find any healthy way to cope with this roller coaster of emotions,” she mumbles somberly. Susie had a friend who started giving her Vicodin to numb her pain, but she became completely dependent on it. These tiny, cotton-white pills dictated Susie’s entire life for next two years. But this was the least of her worries. After a few months of abusing Vicodin, Susie was introduced to meth and her world spiraled out of control. “I felt invincible,” Susie describes her highest high. “It sounds so cliche but that’s exactly how it made me feel, like I could do anything.”
Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine that looks like tiny pieces of glass, which is why it is commonly known as “ice,” “crystal,” “glass” and other names. It is a highly addictive stimulant that causes aggression, violence and psychotic behavior. It can cause a decrease in hunger which leads to weight loss. It is one of the hardest drugs to treat. Susie was able to keep her drug use a secret from everyone for a while, until the effects of the meth started becoming apparent. She lost so much weight that at one point she was under 100 pounds. Her behavior was erratic and she developed a very short temper, any little thing such as leaving a light on would send her into a rage. But it wasn’t until Rich found a glass pipe and a lighter laying on the floor of the garage that he realized his wife was in a very dark place.
There was so much more to it than the drug use. Susie had been spending large amounts of money to get her drugs, an amount that ended up causing a lot of financial stress in the future. She had been lying to her family for so long. “He gave me an ultimatum,” sighed Susie. “I either get help and get clean, or he was going to leave me and take the kids with him.”
So there I am, back on that Thursday in November that started out as such a normal day. I sat in that car and cried, wondering how it was possible that my own mother was capable of everything she was telling me. My mom is supposed to be the person I look up to, I thought to myself. At the time, in my mind a drug addict was someone who lived on the streets and didn’t have any friends or family. My mom lived in a nice house with a huge backyard, had a good job, and came home to h mom er husband and two kids every day. She always made sure the house was clean and dinner was on the table. I guess the thing to understand about drug addiction, it’s that it can affect anyone, even the people you least expect. If you look at an individual’s background, it’s possible you will find answers as to why their addiction began in the first place. My mom went through a lot of trauma in her past, but as of today she has been clean for several years and is back to living her life as the fun loving, big hearted I’ve always known and loved.