When I Got Sober, I Became the Present, Responsible Mom My Son Deserves

When I Got Sober, I Became the Present, Responsible Mom My Son Deserves - #VoicesProject
“You. I missed you, mom. Everything about you.”
When I got back to Ohio, 9 months after my drug and alcohol  treatment, I was asked [or kind of told], “do you regret anything from your past? I know you have to regret something?”

My answer was simple, firm and true: “No. I regret nothing.”

“How can this be?” was all they could say.
They didn’t get it. And that was ok.

If you look back at my story, you might see mistakes, near death, pain, suffering, hurt, sadness, shattered dreams, loneliness, emptiness, a shell of a person, broken hearts, missed opportunities, lies, betrayal, scars, sickness, trouble, wasted talent, lost time, blocked…and on and on….

But, that’s why it’s my story, not yours..

I, the addict in recovery, I see strength, courage, determination, new chances, great opportunities, faith, bravery, grace, mercy, forgiveness, a good fight, healing, fellowship, value, overcome fear, rebuilt dreams, independence, passion, new relationships, restoration, gratitude, love, understanding….and on and on….

Before I realized my appreciation for my addiction (yep, you read that right, appreciation for my journey), I thought about it differently. I would lay on the bottom bunk. Second floor, Fox hall. In treatment. In South Carolina. States away. My son Jackson’s picture under the board of the bed above me. Missing his 7th birthday. First t-ball game. Santa coming without me.  Parent teacher conferences with dad only. Running through my head how I had hurt him…destroyed him maybe.

See, I had not forgiven myself yet. Not healed as a mom….not healed in a lot of ways. It took a while. A long while. It took work and lots of it, but I was ready and I was determined.

When I got home it hit me rather quickly. Jackson was different. His reaction every time he saw me. The long hugs. Nights spent cuddling. The true joy he felt in my presence. He wanted to be with me. He chose me over playing outside, building Lego’s and watching cartoons. He chose me over and over again. He sat closer to me and held my hand. We were always close, me and him. Heroin had done a great job trying to break us, but it hadn’t been completely successful. But now, our bond had shifted in severity. We valued one another…every minute….every moment. We laughed more and harder and easier. Said “I love u” any chance we got. He was stronger, braver, grateful… things that are hard to teach. I was stronger, braver, grateful…things that are hard to learn.

It was not easy for me to first blurt out “I regret nothing in my past, even what I put my son through.” I even squirmed at my own confession at first, but I soon realized what my heart was saying while my disease shook its finger in my face. I suddenly realized what my addiction had done. It had molded me as Jackson’s mom through my experience. It had molded Jackson as a heroin addicts son. It had molded us.

We sat together last week. Eating grilled cheese and smiley face fries for dinner. We began to talk; something we do more of now too.

“Jackson, when I was in treatment,  what did you miss the most?” And Jackson, my resilient angel answered with, “You. I missed you mom. Everything about you…..”

Yes tonight I am watching him sleep. I count his freckles. In the morning I will study his smile as he watches cartoons and eats his breakfast. I can show you where the sun hits his hair to create the perfect shade of red. I can tell you the story behind each scrap and scar on his body. I’m getting better at identifying Star Wars characters. I’m ok with the fact that he still hates the grocery store.

I’m Jackson’s mom. And Jackson is the son of an addict. And this is OUR story.
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