She Wasn’t That Bad

IMG_0057My mom is in recovery. It has been years since she has locked herself in her and Dad’s room for days or gotten so high before a family event that she nervously chatted non stop for what seemed like hours. Mom has forgave herself for the damage her drug addiction has done to her but she refuses to allow my brother, sister and I to forgive her too. She carries a cloak of guilt and shame for the challenges we had to endure. She insists on blaming herself whenever there is a problem, how she ‘ruined’ our childhood. Indeed those years were lonely, frightening and uncertain but it was not that bad.

Every night my father and siblings and I would be greeted with a home cooked meal. Roast chicken, two or three vegetables, real mashed potatoes, cucumbers in vinegar, sea salt in a little porcelain bowl and of course olives. Yes it was upsetting when she would fly off the handle at Dad over something like passing the gravy or head right to her room the moment the milk was poured but that meal always brought us together. My friends at the time would eat in front of the tv or fend for themselves. I have kept this practice into my adulthood and will do the same with my children. It wasn’t that bad.

My mom started to get really sick when I was in high school. At this point we knew as a family that she was using again. Yet I was still the only kid on the basketball team whose Dad would travel to Dighton-Reboboth (still don’t know where that is) to watch my game and have a full dinner packed for me. I’m talking food groups. Fresh strawberries with powdered sugar on the side, cream cheese and green olive sandwiches on rye bread, triscuits. Maybe she couldn’t always be in those stands cheering but she made certain someone was there for me.

I broke my femur and had to move back home to recover. My mom did everything for me including outfitting my room with a tiny golden bell for me to ring for attention. But I knew something was fishy when we kept having to refill my prescriptions. I began to keep track of the pain pills I was taking each day with little slashes in the back of the Napoleon Bonaparte biography I was reading. Something wasn’t right.

I was angry and sad for a long time. I was certain it was not fair that my mom was an addict. Why couldn’t she just stop? Why was she being so selfish? These emotions fueled my sense of independence. I wanted more than ever to be successful, to prove that this disease would not capture me as well. Despite her addiction, it was my mother who held our family together. Her love and strength is what saved our childhoods. How can I help her to realize this? I need her to believe that she wasn’t that bad.

By: Leah Dubois


  1. Sharing stories like this on my blog is why I love my family of contributors. You are all selfless with your private thoughts and words which help so many others who are in need.
    Thank you Leah for your beautiful private story.

  2. karennouri says:

    Great Blog Leah. If she embraces that duality lives in us all, maybe not as evident to us all. W hile some of us have tapped it, ad others have skimmed its surface, there can never be dark without light and light without dark. They must co-exist, they have to exist to be of this universe! We are all universally human, not perfect.

  3. Leah amazing blog! Addiction runs in all of our lives… Sometimes it appears drug related and other times, people are addicted to the feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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