To let others with pain as deep as mine know that they are not alone.
It all started with my debut book's dedication. So here it is:
For those who have learned to fly on broken wings.
Also, for my brother who won the battle over addiction. And for my mother who lost it. I miss you.
Fingers of pain clamped down on my throat, trying to get me not to say anything. It's heavier than a weight on your shoulders. It's more than the world against you. It's an ache so crippling that you have no choice but to submit to it at times. To let it ravish your insides with it's razor sharp teeth. My heart some days is nothing more than tattered shreds. Is there a word that describes this adequately? Not really.
I lost my mother to her addiction.
God, those words hurt. Reality is worse. She's gone. Gone. She was never really there. Addiction stole her from me at a young age. It wrapped her up and promised her a life of numbness. And then it trapped her with its lies. And sometimes, I'm so mad at her. I want to ask:
Why did you listen to drugs?
Why wasn't your family enough?
Why did you leave me?
Please come back…
She will never be back. Every hour of every day I have to swallow the pill of truth. My mother will never be there to call. I cannot drive down the street and see her. I cannot celebrate with her the day my book releases. I won't even be able to hug her and smell the coffee in her hair.
My mother was a good person who made a bad decision. Who had a hard life and saw something that seemed like it might make her memories a little less painful. This is what my book is all about, letting people know there is always another option besides drugs and violence and hopelessness. HOPE IS REAL. My mother believed it too, she just forgot some days. Those were the days that drugs took hold.
And then there's my brother, following in the deep shadowed footprints of my mother. Drugs and alcohol. There were years when I wondered, when I was nearly convinced that he would die from this horrible disease. And then something beautiful happened. He won. He checked himself into a treatment center and he fought second after second to beat this beast that owned him. And he took back his life. I am so, so, so proud of him. It has been a couple years and he did it. He now travels the world--U.S., Africa, doesn't matter as long as it's somewhere that he's needed--to tell his story, to help others.
Because if even one life is saved, it's worth it.
It is too late for my mother. Sometimes I look at my memories of her and I smile, usually through tears. Sometimes I hate myself for blaming her. And sometimes I remember the bad. Like the time I was 15 and saw a crack pipe by her bedside. No one should have to know what their mother looks like strung out, or what a crack pipe looks like for that matter, especially at 15. Or the other time that I flushed her drugs down the toilet in front of her, and I had to face her drugged-out rage. It wasn't all bad, though. There were the periods between where she got clean, where she really tried. She didn't want to give into the monster. She never wanted a life like that.
Drugs don't give a shit about what you want.
I miss her. Every day I think about her. Maybe with time the ache will fade. I almost hope it doesn't. I don't want to forget. I don't want the pain to become muted to the point that I no longer passionately relate to those going through similar situations. I want my books to communicate a message of hope. And for the teens out there who can completely relate to me right now: I am so sorry you know this pain. Please understand that you are not alone. Please know that there IS hope. It might seem bleak, you might not get a happy ending, but all is not lost. All is not lost.
As for me, I will include this dedication. And I will continue to miss my mom. I will be proud of the woman she was without the monster. And I will support people like my brother who won. And maybe, just maybe, one day those who are unfortunate enough to know drug addiction will also know courage. Maybe those people will be more like my brother and less like my mom. This is my hope.