The Well Magazine Summer 2012 - Page 5

and no self esteem. I saw hurt in the eyes of people who meant a great deal to me but I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t pray and I didn’t go to church. I just existed. Towards the end of 1989, I began a downward spiral that I knew I had to reach the bottom of in order to make it back to the top. By the time I made it to treatment in January, I pretty much had lost everything except my mother’s love. During those last days, my oldest child went to live with my mother and my son went to live with his father. I only had my youngest daughter. Then one day she didn’t come home from school. I was terrified. Later, I found out that my oldest child had called the Department of Children and Family Services and told them that I was doing drugs and the authorities picked my baby up from school. My mother was given custody. I knew it was time to do something different but I also felt like whatever path I was on I had to get to the very end of it. The state gave my mother custody. I had to make a change in my life. In late October I went on a waiting list for a local treatment center. The person in my life who I thought was my life had gone to jail. I kept wondering how soon they would call me with a bed. I made it through Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. Finally, I got the call to be in Chicago on January 9. It was all arranged. Dad would pick me up at 5 a.m. I was relieved, excited and scared all at once. I went out the night before with a couple of friends to celebrate before my early morning departure. My stay was going to be six months although I really had not decided if I was going to actually stay that long. I just wanted to stop using cocaine. I figured I could still smoke a joint or drink a beer every now and then. That was the last night that I would use cocaine or alcohol ever again. At my lowest point, I begged, borrowed and stole just to fulfill the yearning and urges that came with using cocaine. I was not neglected as a child. I was not underprivileged. Both of my parents worked hard to provide the family with all the things we needed. We were always clean and never hungry. We were never in the dark and never cold. We went to church every Sunday. You could not live in my mother’s house and not go to church on Sunday morning. If you woke up and you were too sick to go, rest assured that you would spend the entire day in the house. The first eight years of my life was spent in a household where I was the only girl. I learned early on that there were a lot of things that girls can’t do. I loved running, but running was for boys. Girls were to sit and be seen—no loud talking and laughing. I was restricted to the confines of the front porch. Even as a child, I was responsible for my younger siblings while my parents were at work. As a teenager, I spent countless hours washing dishes, ironing clothes and playing with my younger siblings. By the time I graduated from high school, I had five brothers and two sisters and I felt like I was just lost in the crowd. Those feelings of inadequacy were compounded by the fact that I had gotten pregnant at 17 and brought a baby into the household. I don’t quite remember when I was placed on the pedestal. But having a baby definitely had knocked me off of it. I was kicked out of the choir at church. I was banned from teaching Sunday School and I could no longer work in the church’s radio ministry. I went from being an honor student to an embarrassment. My next encounter with the opposite sex came in the form of an older man who proceeded to make a fool of me despite my insisting that it just wasn’t like that. Much later I would discover that I was merely an object of sex, used and then tossed to the side. ow my self esteem was really at an all time low. Several years later I was introduced to marijuana by a man. This relationship would result in my having another child and marrying the father. The relationship didn’t last but my habit of smoking marijuana remained. Smoking weed gave me a nice feeling and the only problem I thought then was that it always left me with a hungry feeling. The next man in my life was handsome and charming and I found myself in love again and pregnant. He was also unemCONTINUED ON PAGE 27 The Power of a Mother’s Love In my mind, people who got hooked on drugs were people from underprivileged homes. They were not people who had mothers and fathers that worked. Now I know that drugs and alcohol are not the problem but only a mere symptom which complicates the true underlying issue. I also understand that I was living in a place called denial about a lot of things. I understand that I was seeking the approval of others and that I needed to go through all I went through in order to become who I am now. 5 N Summer 2012 / The Well Magazine