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It is one year ago from today and I'm driving. I've got that excited, tingling feeling. I stop at the store for one of those big gulp cups of coke and my usual extra straw. I'm pulling up to my dealer’s house. Money and bag change hands and I sit, like I always do, at his dining table and begin breaking up the contents of the bag with the butt end of my lighter. “Scissors?” I say. He hands me a pair, like he always does, and I trim my extra straw. I scoop a little bit out of the bag and put the straw in my nose and take it in. Like always I feel nothing, but I wait a few more moments before scooping out another bump. We make small talk, like we always do. People come in and out and money and bags exchange more hands. A couple of other boring, broken girls join me at the table. I do my next bump and then immediately do my third bump in the opposite nostril. And there it is. Sudden and wonderful. Those boring, broken girls are now the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Another bump later I realized I’ve extended my lunch break. Time to go back to work.
Oh how I love the short drive home. The music is so deep, the colors are so beautiful. I’m so happy and glowing. I stop at the railroad crossing, like I always do, and do a nice big bump. I want to make this feeling last as long as I can. I know that soon all this fuzzy will fade and then the rest of this bag will just be useless. But I’ll finish it, like I always do.
When I get home (I work at home) the day goes by easily for me. I split the 8ball into 4 bags, like I always do, one is for work today. One is for when I get off. One is for the wee hours of the night, to dish out slowly to try fruitlessly to stave off the inevitable come down to follow. The last one is for when I wake up tomorrow, to hold me over until I can get back to my dealers and score again.
The kids get home from school at 3pm. My boyfriend shows up every day at 6pm day like clockwork. He usually brings food with him. Food that I am not interested in eating but pretend to take a few bites of. He has no idea. He thinks I’ve been clean for months. It’s always amazed me that he doesn’t notice my huge pupils. But I guess I am the same as he has always known me to be. It’s when I’m dry that I worry he will notice.
I feel guilty three times a day. Once when the kids come home. Again when he arrives with that look of love and admiration and that bag of what was once my favorite fast food. The last is the lasting guilt, when I’m alone again at night, kids in bed, he’s gone home and I’m in bed, twitchy, uncomfortable, angry and sick.
I do this every day. It is the same ritual, the same drive, the same extra straw. Same guilt. I love the feel of that bag in my hand, I love that first line more than anything in the world. I hate the feel of that bag in my hand, I hate that first line more than anything in the world.
I’m not a person anymore. Just a machine. I’m ridden by my addiction. It drives my body. It dictates the lies on my tongue.
Every night I cry. Every night the guilt eats me alive. Every come down I say “That’s it, I’m done” Every time it is a lie….
It is now the night before Mother’s Day. I am coming down, like I always do. I’m pacing around the house as I sometimes do. I come to my son’s door. I’m not sure what is compelling me to open it and go inside, as I never do when I’m coming down. I would rather cut off my own foot than have my children see me like this. But I open it. On his nightstand, I see it. Folded printer paper and all crayoned. He made me a card for Mother’s Day. Me, the mother who isn’t even a person, just some machine. “I Love you Mom. Thank you for everything you do for me”. Everything I do for him. I stand there holding that card for a long time. I can’t think of one thing I’ve done for anyone but myself these last 6 months.
I move to my daughter’s room, more compelled now than I have ever been in my life. Her card is not as easy to find but it’s there in a draw. “You’re the best mom in the world. I love you so much”.
I return to my son’s room and touch his face, kiss his check and tuck him in. I do the same with my daughter.
I make it halfway down the hallway when my heart explodes. It breaks, shatters and crumbles until there is nothing left. I fall to the floor. I can’t move, I can’t see for the tears in my eyes. I am no longer coming down, I’m dying inside. I would rather be dead.
In the six months that I used cocaine daily, I was consumed with myself and my addiction. I used people. I lied to my family, my friends, my children. When I did not get my way, I threw massive temper tantrums, broke bottles, screamed and yelled. I turned myself into someone who could not be loved. Yet there I stood, loved. Loved by the two people who should hate me more than anyone in the world. Loved.
I go to my room. I take the last bag of the day that I am saving for the morning and open it. My instinctive little machine fingers take the straw and start to scoop. But I’m not the same as before. Something is different now.
I pause, as I never do.
Will this bag buy me a few hours of false happiness? Yes, of course. Will it push this guilt far back and allow me to deal with it another day? Yes, of course.
Will I flush this bag down the toilet? Yes, of course. The answer comes so quickly. I do not hesitate, for I am a machine and a machine follows the commands.
For the first time in my life, I experience a very new come down. Where usually there is fear, there is hope. Where usually I find sadness and despair, I find resolution. The guilt is still there, in fact it’s still here now. I’m not sure it ever goes away. Sleep comes quicker. When I awake the next morning, for the first time in six months, I don’t have a bump waiting to wake me. I am awake regardless.
It’s a year later. Mother’s Day will be here in just a few days.
After I’m done writing this, I’m going to get up, do some housework and make cupcakes for the kids to have after school. I’m going to finish work today and make a warm, lovely meal for my family to eat tonight, as I always do. I’ll be going to the gym with my daughter and after, we will treat ourselves to one of those big gulps and I’ll get one straw, as I always do. My son will be home soon, ready to tell me about his day, and I’ll listen, as I always do.
Oh how I love this ritual. This day in day out. Ordinary life. I’m happy and glowing. I want to make this feeling last as long as I can.
And I’ll fight for it, like I always do.
On Sunday, I will be celebrating two very special days. One I can tell the world about. I am a mother and it is my day. This year, I’ve earned that right.
The other, I will keep between you and me, dear reader. A year ago from the eve of Mother’s Day, I found two cards that changed my life. I found a reason to fight.  I found a reason to make myself loveable again. And here I sit, Loved.

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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1. Maureen
Congratulations on your sobriety! I'm so happy for you and your family!
2. Maureen
Congratulations on your sobriety! I'm so happy for you and your family!