Bit of history

I am 39 next month. I have 5 children. My eldest son T is 18. R, my eldest girl is 17. SC, my middle daughter is 12. SS, my youngest son is 10 and F my baby girl is 22 months old. Only F lives with me and R, her daddy. My older 4 live with my ex-husband.  I never imagined that I would be a mother whose children didn’t live with her. It creeps up on me regularly and devastates me over and over. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the shame and guilt of it. The grief takes my breath away. But, they are happy and we have a wonderful relationship. All of my kids and I see each and speak and text regularly and I know I have to be grateful for this. I have hurt them. Over and over. They have seen things they shouldn’t have seen. A couple of times I have written them goodbye letters but thankfully they have never had to read them.

I had T and R when I was 20/21. Their biological father was an older, married man. He and his wife also had 2 children at the exact same time, like within a couple of months of each other. So he fathered 4 children in 2 years. We lived in a small town (pop. 2,000) and as you can imagine, it was a fucking nightmare. I felt so in love with him but even so, when I found out I was (17 weeks!!) pregnant, I told him I was keeping the baby but he could walk away and I would never tell a soul. Naive I know, but I wanted the baby more than anything I’d wanted in my whole life. I’d had 2 abortions when I was 16 which I’d been pressured into (another even older married man) and I wasn’t going to do that again. I am firmly pro-choice but it had not been my choice and it had affected me deeply.

For a few years my life became the town’s gossip column before he and his wife moved away to make a go of it somewhere new and away from me. I was heartbroken and ashamed but I loved being a mum and was lucky enough to have a nice home that I rented from my mother. I was secure and independent.  I soon met J, a boy I’d been to school with and grown up alongside but had never really got to know. My kids adored him. We got on well. We got married and he eagerly adopted T and R. In my heart I knew it wasn’t right but everyone else was so happy, I thought I was doing the right thing. That I could cope with this life. He was good to me, wonderful to my children and provided for us. We went on to have SC and then SS was born in July 06.

J and I had always done recreational drugs on the weekend before SC and SS were born. T and R would spend Sat night at a relatives and we would get high. In our small town there are 14 pubs, most of them next door to each other. It’s a big drinking town with a huge booze problem. My friends and I were drinking at 14 in parks but by 16, we were openly drinking in the pubs. That was typical. You grew up being drinking at weekends in our town. Everyone did it.

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J and my drinking and drug use was heavy but only on the weekends and only in the time before we decided to try and have a baby. After I had SC my alcohol use went up a lot. I was drinking every night at home. 1 or 2 bottles of wine a night. I was puffy and lethargic. I convinced myself that it was normal. J was a weed smoker. He smoked, I drank. We decided to have another baby and I quit again. I had the odd glass of lager or red wine but kept within the recommendations for pregnant woman. I know in the US it’s massively frowned upon but in the UK, the guidelines stated you could drink 1 or 2 units a week.

I have a problem coping appropriately in a crisis. I resort to a learned way of substance abuse. This method has failed me every single time and I believed that my repeated failure to learn from my mistake was down to a severe character flaw. It felt hopelessly inevitable. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m beginning to understand it is not just my resolve that is weak. I can apportion a little blame to the example I was given as a child. I know I am nearly 40 and a fully grown woman and should know better but I’m hoping it’s a ‘better late than never’ situation.

I was taught that having a drink or burying my head deep in the sand was the way adults cope when life goes tits up.
10 years ago I used to drink a bottle of wine when the kids went to bed. This was socially acceptable.
Then it was 2 bottles – less acceptable.
So I became secretive about the extent of my habits. My ex husband used to have his friends over and smoke weed all evening. He maintained a job and I continued to be a more than adequate parent and homemaker. There didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

Then SS was born.

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He was 2 days old when the paedtrician casually told me his ‘dismorphic features’ indicated that he had CDLS. A rare genetic condition. We had no idea anything was wrong. We had only come into hospital because we were struggling with breastfeeding successfully.
She gave me this life changing news when I was alone, my husband having gone home for the night to look after our older children. I made the decision to not tell him until he came back the next morning to give him one more night of not having that knowledge.
Within the first hour of a possible diagnosis I was already closing ranks. I was in survival mode 48 hours after giving birth in safe hub of my own bedroom. I believed I could handle it and would cope better than my husband so made the decision to internalize the true depth of this pain. If I was ok as his mother then everyone else would be OK, wouldn’t they?
We never received any kind of counselling. We had Google (I texted a friend that first night in hospital and asked her to look up CDLS. Before I’d even told my husband. I couldn’t do it from hospital. She very tearfully and reluctantly gave me the basics over the phone. I put her in a terrible position, I can see now but I couldn’t wait until I got home. I should have. It didn’t help and only offered more questions than answers.)
Our health visitor spoke of wheelchairs, special schools and life expectancy as I was cradling my 5 day old, 6lb bundle. I bowed my head and felt crushed. My husband made her leave and rang the health authority to complain.
I retreated. From my friends. My family. But mostly from my own terrible imagination of what our future entailed. I learnt how to switch my brain off.
Ten years on I don’t remember ever sitting down with anyone and having an honest conversation about how it all felt. I would say over and over (in my own head, to no one in particular..)
‘Don’t feel sorry for us. This is no tragedy. I’m so glad SS was born to me and not someone who didn’t want or love him. I wouldn’t change a thing.’
I made it look like no big deal a friend told me years later.

My substance abuse problem as a way of coping began in the year after SS’s birth.

 

Tramadol made my pain go away. All the anxieties and grief I felt was crippling me but I used the pills to cope. It made me feel so happy. I started off taking 3 or 4 with a bottle of wine but within 10 months I was taking 45 a day. I was dying. I was vomiting all the time. I have no memory of the majority of 2007 apart from having 2 huge seizures. The first time my husband had to pull my tongue free as I was choking on it. I signed myself out of hospital and ‘confessed’ to J that I’d been abusing slimming pills. I was sorry but it didn’t scare me enough to stop. I had another fit. More lies and eventually he and I split up. He left the children with me as I’d convinced him I was clean. James and I split when SS was 1.
I became a single parent to 4 children.
Then my brother got ill.
I was in the impossible situation of being a single mum, a non driver, 4 hours away from my brother’s (L) hospital bed with a disabled child who couldn’t just be palmed off on any old relative as easily is the other kids. I had a difficult relationship with my ex mother in law who acted out in a very peculiar way whilst my brother was dying, by making me feel guilty for leaving the children when I visited him.

My own mother and I became estranged during this time. We had always had a difficult relationship and the strain of caring for my brother, watching him slowly deteriorate and trying to navigate between my warring parents, who hadn’t been in the same room since their divorce 20 years previously resulted in a petty argument that neither of us could find the courage to forgive. It was bitter and sad and only now, 8 years later are we tip-toeing into each other’s lives, attempting a cease-fire. Tentative, baby steps.

After we lost L, his lovely 21 year old fiancée committed suicide.
She couldn’t live without him. She couldn’t see a happy future for herself. She hung herself 8 months after he died.
Shortly after that I became homeless because I could not open my mail and therefore pay my bills. My children and I moved into my ex husband’s house and I slept on his sofa. After 3 weeks I felt utterly hopeless and attempted suicide by overdosing where my brothers ashes were scattered. It was a serious attempt. I took enough to kill me but I woke 10 hours later. Not dead. I had failed at that too.

That was 7 years ago and since then I have overdosed several times.
Both accidentally and on purpose.
I have done a great job of not coping well at coping. I have tried my best to protect my older children from my unhappiness but sadly my eldest daughter spelled it out to me recently. She told me that when I used to shut myself away it only made her feel like she’d done something wrong. I thought I was hiding my misery and by leaving my kids to play in the living room with the tv and snacks, I was providing them a happy space. Turns out I very wrong.

I’m sorry kids. I thought I was doing the right thing. It was NEVER you.

Over the years I have had problems with painkillers, speed, benzos, sleeping pills, otc meds and alcohol. I have binged heavily on coke and E but never had the money or supply to maintain that. I have accidentally overdosed twice. My daughters had to call an ambulance and watch me get taken away on a stretcher.

So that’s my history of drug use in a nut shell. I started using recreational drugs at about 16. Going to raves and partying on E but it wasn’t until after SS was born that my drug use became something I hid from everyone. That was when I started using drugs to escape my pain rather than for fun. The alcohol came first but it wasn’t hidden. No-one really cared about that because it was such a normal way of life.

My children have grown into sensitive, intelligent, caring, and dare I say; happy young people despite my failures. They are more understanding and accepting of my limitations than I could have ever hoped for.

2888874164_5e18925ef7_z(July 2006)
But I can not continue to be this way. I have a sweet 22m old baby girl who wakes up with a ceaseless capacity for joy. So far unaffected by my numerous struggles. I need to preserve and protect that for as long as possible.

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It’s more luck than good parenting that my older kids and I have scraped by the last 10 years without them being more emotionally scarred. We’ve been lucky. Luck runs out.
My baby needs me to be happy and healthy. I have to put everything into  being healthy and hope that will lead to inner peace.

I hope by writing this down, it will help me pinpoint parts of my journey. That I will learn some of my triggers. Maybe it will help teach my brain to stop deleting the negative aspects of my disease. I don’t want to ever relapse again. I want to be proactive in my recovery and sobriety, not reactive. I need to keep reminding myself of how awful it has been for me and my loved ones. I need the bully in my head to be shut down down by facts and truths.

I apologise if this post seems a little disjointed. Some of it was written a few months ago. I wanted to write some of my back story but a lot of it overlapped with a post I had previously written so I tried to patch it together.

Thanks for reading.

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13 thoughts on “Bit of history

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    You have gone through a lot.

    Have you been to a treatment centre? Have you considered that?

    My husband went to one when we decided to get sober. He was deeper into the Coke and when he asked for help inpatient treatment was suggested. Although I didn’t hunk he needed anything that drastic, it turned out to be the absolute best choice for him.

    It was hard being left home alone with my kids, but I will always be immensely proud that he was willing to do that.

    Does your current husband know you are struggling?

    Big hug. Your daughter is beautiful. You deserve to enjoy every moment with her.

    Anne

    Liked by 3 people

    • I haven’t been into a treatment centre. I have thought about it but I’m not sure. We can’t afford anything like that privately. I begin weekly therapy this week.
      My new partner knows everything. He doesn’t drink, smoke or take drugs. He used to when he was young but not in many years.
      Thankyou for taking the time to respond.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Look into options. There are many facilities that treat dual diagnosis…mental health and addictions. It is very hard to deal with those two things together. I suffer from depression and generalized anxiety disorder…i continue to go to therapy. Maybe I will forever! And I take medication. I need to . There is no other solution…

        Help is out there. It sounds like it is time to take care of yourself so you can get better…

        Hugs.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Bit of history – Back to Life

  3. HI there. I have struggled endlessly with both addiction and mental health issues. At one point, I was clean and sober for 10 years; then I relapsed and lost everything, my two beautiful daughters included. I’m currently rebuilding my relationships with them, but it’s hard going, so I know how you feel. I literally just started a blog yesterday about my struggle with getting off Suboxone, the medication that was supposed to keep me clean but which I am now addicted to instead of heroin and painkillers. If you need support, give me a shout. I’m right here with you, sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have literally just seen this comment! I didn’t realise I had to approve a ton of comments. I’m sorry to hear about your daughters and your daily struggle. I will seek out your blog immediately. Thank you so much for commenting. X

      Like

  4. I am inspired by your story. We keep what we have by giving it away. I frequent 12 step meetings and if you really want to be done. I have found many who are enjoying successful recovery by following the program with a sponsor and a solid group of similarly afflicted people. Treatment is an option and the benefits are well documented. In my opinion, you can get a good start without it. I’ll be following and look forward to tales of your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, dear Mama…

    Oh, heart.

    You and your babies have all been through so much.

    My brain, too, is quirky with tricky neurology, but I have not had the added depth of chemical addiction.

    You are strong, to write this post.
    Please do get comprehensive help.
    Here in BC, too many babies are losing their mamas to drugs. So many right now.

    You are not alone. Not alone in your brain trickiness, not alone in your addiction, not alone in your love for your babies, not alone in your profound losses.

    +1 to everything ainsobriety said, too! Even without the added and fierce complication of addiction, I have accessed SO MUCH TREATMENT. It’s been good. I’m a sole parent of a child with disabilities too, and I said to him today, “I’m so glad I made that decision to live, way back then.” I will be thrilled reading in some years you saying the same words 🙂

    Love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have been through so much. Everyone deals with pain and grief in different ways. An addictive personality looks for things that take the pain away such as alcohol, shopping, social media addiction, drugs. All these things work……temporarily. We become so used to numbing the pain with our addictions that we know no other way to cope with life. I also was addicted to Benzos. I was put on them after the birth of my son. Very quickly I became addicted and it took me twelve months to get off them. They are buggars to get out of your life. WIthdrawal has to be very very slow or else the side effects are severe anxiety. Stevie Nicks was addicted to them too and said they were worse to come off than heroin.
    I can’t afford any sort of therapy so I do my own. I read a lot of self help books. I watch You Tube videos of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. They help me so much. I am starting to feel the benefit of my own self help. Dealing with the grief of losing your brother might be harder. Did you allow yourself to grieve fully at the time or were there too many distractions. I never grieved fully after my father in law passed away. I felt I had to be strong for my husband and children. That was a mistake. It hit me hard a few years later and I had to process it over a few months. I allowed myself to cry deeply. I never did that when he died. I suppressed it.
    I believe you can and will recover. One step at a time. Understand your addictive personality is the root cause of all your issues with drink, drugs and other behaviours all which achieve the same result…..temporary release of painful emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I def had delayed grief after losing my brother. He was ill in a vegatitve state for a year before he passed which was a terrible limbo. When he died it was kind of a relief for a short time as his suffering was unbearable. It was a year later when I read about a celebrity killing himself after the death of his mother that it just hit me! I’m not sure I’ve dealt with it even now. I’ve spent so much of the time since he’s been gone numbing myself. X

      Liked by 1 person

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