I guess it’s time. Time to reveal one of the dark secrets of my healing journey. I was a drug addict. Cocaine and alcohol were my vices. I only did them on weekends, which started on Thursday and lasted until Monday….I am not proud of this part of my story, but it is a big part of it. I am speaking out about it now because my new friend, Renae Hall, recently got arrested for drug charges and is in prison. I can only imagine the judgement she’s getting right now. She has little ones she left behind at home, who are now in the care of family. I connected with this woman a few months after her son was murdered in a school shooting. I was fortunate enough to run across her story of how she honored her sweet, six year old, Jacob, and had everyone dress as superheros for his funeral. Of course I had to reach out to her. My Kaleb was only 4 1/2 when he was ripped away from me when he drowned, he, too, loved superheros. I thought this was a beautiful tribute and wanted to let her know I was here for her. We connected and became instant friends. We truly believed that our angels set it up. She is a beautiful soul and in so much pain. I remember that pain, sometimes I can even recall it as if it were yesterday.
This is what I want to talk about. Dealing with the pain. A pain that no mother should ever have to bear. A pain so severe that it cuts through your soul like a dull knife that just keeps twisting and turning. It doesn’t go away for a very long time, and the wound is never all the way gone. The day I lost my son I had to have two of my dearest friends holding me because I was shaking so bad I was terrified I was going to literally fall apart. They were holding me together. I don’t remember if I slept that night, if I did it was because of the anti psychotic pills a friend gave me to knock me out. I do know that it wasn’t for very long if I did because of the nightmares I couldn’t shake. I couldn’t eat. Even while awake each and every time I closed my eyes I would see the horrific sight of my son getting CPR done and having it not work. I imagined him as he was drowning, and I wanted to die because, I, his mother, the one who loved him more than anyone in this entire world was unable to save him. The haunting echos in my head of the nurse telling me, “No, he didn’t make it.” My arms continued to feel the weight of his body after he was passed and the rigamortis set in to where I could barely even hold him and had to walk away, leaving him cold and alone in the hospital room. This, my friends, is torture. It is probably why I can’t handle seeing it on television, or hearing about it ever happening. It’s like being waterboarded with your own guilt. I know that Renae is feeling this.
When this was happening to me, I had no one else that I was responsible for, thank God. I was alone. I needed to escape. I had healthy ways of coping and digging deep into my healing such massage, cranial work, and writing which were my biggest healers. On the flip side, I also had my unhealthy ways of healing…my 5 day a week drug and alcohol problem. Until recently when I would look back, I would hide this part of my story. I was ashamed. I wished I handled it better, that I didn’t have these memories. That I could say I went to counseling, that I dove into God and church and my family for support. That I started up my books and non profit right away and was successful with that. Well, the facts are that I didn’t. I pushed away my family and even many of my friends, and I got close with self medication. I developed a relationship with cocaine and alcohol and whoever was able to help me obtain it. I never told anyone, I probably thought I hid it better than I did, but it was for fear of judgement. This is not what strong people do, and since even when losing my son, I did not want to be seen as weak, or as a victim. I wanted to hide from the world, in the dark, escaping everything and anything. When I was sober, I’d go heal and it was emotional, spiritual, mental and even physical suffering and the horror of the reality that I could never bring him back, so I would then again, escape into the darkness of something that hurt me less then and numb the pain caused by the empty hole in my heart. It was the only thing I had to look forward to. Doing drugs and clinging onto people that were only trying to help me. People might judge the ones who helped me get these drugs, but this was an act of love and I will never believe anything less than that. To this day I am extremely grateful for their compassion.
Slowly but surly I began to dig my way out of that cycle. It would come and go, but got less and less each time. I did some amazing things during my sober times within that first year, such as go to Africa and help heal and bring home my friend’s daughter who was in a coma in a South African hospital. After I got back into the states I start working in the day care that my son went to so I could remember the love I did have for children that for a short while couldn’t even be around. Now, looking back on my story, I love every piece of it, because it is mine. And I have now even started my non profit and have published two children’s books, almost three!Judge me if you must, but I am even grateful for those times I buried my nose in blow and did my own form of drowning in alcohol, and I can truly say that I understand that world. I have been in those shoes. I know that sometimes the only way out in your head is to escape. My drug use prevented me from taking my own life. It gave me a way to talk about my pain, and talk, and talk. I could laugh, I could cry, and I could just hide in a place where I was not judged and was loved and accepted.
So, before judging someone for the choices they make, try to imaging the pain they are in. Six months is not a long time after losing someone close to you, especially a being you created inside of your body and brought into this world…there is no wrong way to heal. There is no path that is unacceptable. There is only the path that they are on. Yes, there is help that can be given but it must be through support and love and compassion, and not through judgement, hate and cruelty. Please remember this the next time you think you would handle a situation different, because honestly, you do not know until you are there. You do not know what its like unless you’ve lost, and if you do know you understand that there is no comparison and we are all just doing the best we can.
Renae, and all the other parents out there who have lost a child, a spouse, a family member or a friend, or are struggling with any other kind of loss, I am sending you love. I am here for you if you need me, as I have said before, with as much peace and light and energy as I can give to help you heal. I do not judge you. I love you and am holding space for you. I believe in you, you are not alone.