I am the daughter of a drug addict, alcoholic, and prostitute
By my 13th birthday I had endured being beaten, verbally abused, starved for days at a time, abandoned, sexually abused, and finally orphaned.
Now how do I tell you my story to fill in the gaps of the sentence you just read?
Many times I thought I would write my story, the real untold story.
Many times I thought I should share more, the secrets I’ve kept.
Many times I thought I could find my voice, the one that was hushed many years ago.
Many times I thought about it and many times I changed my mind. Until today.
How do I explain a story that I don’t understand myself?
How do I convince people that no matter how bad of a person she may have seemed to be she was my mom and I loved her?
How do I tell you all about my life and expect you to respect the person who caused me the most pain?
I don’t and I can’t. This is where my story differs from how I originally thought I would share one day. I am not sharing my story to convince you to see that she was my mom and deserved my love. I am not sharing with you for pity or for you to look down upon her. I share with you because I want you to see a different viewpoint, the viewpoint of the child who grew up. There is always an untold side to every story..and this is mine. You aren’t required to view her in the same loving manner that I have even after all these years, you are only asked to continue reading with an open mind and realize that forgiveness wasn’t necessary for her, it was necessary for me. If I hadn’t forgiven myself, it would have consumed me. The rage I held on to as an adult from my childhood was out of control, until I learned that forgiving her wasn’t the answer. I needed to forgive ME for carrying her burden all those years.
Where to begin….um, I’m not sure. People have asked me many times when was the moment I realized something wasn’t right in my life. Well, I never realized it growing up?? Sounds crazy, but think about it: if your life is the only thing you know, then that is YOUR normal right? For me, I thought I was growing up like all the other kids at school. I was wrong. The realization didn’t set in until after I got married and had my son. That is when it truly hit me that my life had been……bad.
I guess I’ll start in Kindergarten- before that time, my memories don’t have as much detail. My mom was very much into being seen and looking good for the public eye. I had to “be” a certain way in public (prim, proper, and always perfect). I was given scripts on what to say and how to answer questions, I had it down to a science and could look you square in the eye when I gave my rehearsed lines. One of my most vivid memories was standing in line at a pageant she entered me in and before it was my turn to walk the stage, she put red lipstick on me. By the time I did my walk, I wiped it off (what kid wants to wear red lipstick haha). I got to the middle turn and I looked at the front row, gave her my biggest smile, certain she would be very proud of me because I had made every turn perfectly on stage like she taught me. Instead I saw rage in her face and as she shook her head, I knew I would get punished for wiping off the lipstick. That night I won Mini Miss Johnson County and Most Beautiful out of the entire pageant, yet I cried all the way home begging her to forgive me, promising never to do it again. The next day I had a pump knot on my forehead and when I was questioned by my teacher, I gave my scripted response: I fell in my dress shoes going up the steps last night because it was dark. No one ever knew that pump knot came from a pink hard plastic brush. So you may ask why I didn’t tell the truth or why I lied? That’s an easy answer: she told me what to do, I loved her, and wanted her approval.
Second grade: I wrote a letter to her telling her I was sorry that I wasn’t as pretty as her and that if I promised to do better would she love me. That note was a result of her boyfriend telling me I was ugly and deserved to be scarred so he put out 2 cigarettes on my left forearm. She was drunk that night and laughed about it when I cried from the pain then threw a glass bottle at my face. When it busted she said I deserved to be hurt for not being pretty like her. I swore that night laying in bed that I would not let her be ashamed of me anymore and I would do whatever it took to get her boyfriends (plural) approval so she could be proud of me.
Fourth grade: I sat in the car at a bar while she hung out with some friends. When it was getting close to midnight and the snow had covered the car windshield completely so that I couldn’t see the bar door anymore, I got scared. I was afraid she would leave me there alone as she had other times and I didn’t want to spend the night in the car again. I went to the front door and asked the bouncer if he would get her for me to start the car so I could turn the windshield wipers and heat on to melt the snow. That is a decision that I regret to this day. I went to school the next day with the textbook answer: the cuts on my forehead and face were from a fall on the ice. I did not fall. She was so angry with me, she slapped me hard enough that my head hit the passenger car window.
Sixth grade: I often slept in the bed next to her at a hotel while she turned tricks. I use the word slept loosely because I didn’t sleep. Seriously, sleep was impossible so I just laid there with my eyes closed, quiet and still, hoping to be forgotten. One night, I was feeling sick and asked her if I could go to the bathroom. That was the night she told me that I had to pay for the hotel room now since I interrupted her, so how did I expect to do it? I will forever be grateful for my dad whom I called and saved me because I don’t know if I could be sitting here writing this today had I been forced to finish her work that night.
Seventh grade: Drug raids became the normal since my mom started living with a drug dealer. You learn a new sense of the word scary living in a situation like that. I just thought I had been afraid before, but no, this took it to a new level. I learned that if I put the pot on me, no one searched me and the police wouldn’t take her to jail. This was also the time I started praying to die nightly. I was not what I consider to be suicidal normally, but after being forced to play Russian Roulette with 2 people so high they didn’t even realize who I was- praying to die seemed like a good idea at the time.
Eighth grade: I missed a week of school because she left me alone in our house and told me I wasn’t allowed to go outside because if the police found out,she would go to jail and did I want that for her?? Being left alone wasn’t a huge deal, I was used to it by then. The hard part was not having any food, electricity, or running water because she had blown all of my child support on drugs. When she came back, I was so proud to tell her I did exactly what she said the entire 7 days and no one found out. Instead she told me that I was a thorn in her side, I had prevented her from truly living, and she hated me. That night, she kicked me out and locked the door.
She passed away a few months later. After her death, I became even more protective of keeping her secrets. I guess in my mind as still a child, if I kept her secrets THEN I finally would have made her proud. Funny how really all we ever want is approval from those we love.
There are so many more pieces to this story and details but in the end, the result is still the same: I loved her then, I love her now, and I will love her tomorrow. She may have been a horrible mother, but she was mine. The problem wasn’t that she hated me or didn’t love me- she just loved her addictions equally and wasn’t strong enough to fight back. I have never told these stories to anyone (not even my husband) for fear of being shamed and fear of her being hated, because I do believe we all deserve to be forgiven for our sins. I tell you this now because you may know someone who is suffering from addiction, please don’t give up on them because that person could have someone at home who depends on them to sober up. I needed desperately for my mom to get help, but help never came. She was too good at burning bridges. I beg you, don’t let your bridge be burned. Keep that communication open even if it is just a line of prayer to that person for mercy and grace.
So where am I now? How do I deal? I wish I could tell you that I have forgotten all of the pain and heartache that I went through, but it still haunts me daily. It took a long time for me to start sharing bits and pieces of my life, to even my closest friends. I wasn’t sure how to talk about it without causing a backlash of negativity against her because I need everyone who is reading this to remember: She was my mother. No matter how badly her choices were, I loved her.
In 2014, Sheila’s Daughter launched. This program helps me give my mom some integrity back because if she were here and sober- she would want other women who are in situations like she was to have a fighting chance. Although the program was created in my mom’s honor, it helps heal my heart. To know that I am helping someone else makes me believe that the broken road I’ve traveled brought me to where I need to be today. I don’t look back on my life with hate or anger anymore, just sadness. I deserved better growing up as a child and while I can’t change that for me, I can try to be the change for someone else.
Packing almost 30 bags to go to Red Legacy Recovery ♡ Many people don’t know but my mom made some horrible decisions in life and found herself a drug addict, prostitute, and thief before the age of 28. When her body finally gave out before her 31st birthday and left me an orphan at 13 years old, I knew that I had to choose better to make her proud ♡
Often we went into shelters with nothing more than the clothes on our back so as I packed these toiletry bags up tonight, I had such a wave of emotion. People don’t have to understand drug addiction or even sympathize with the user – that’s fine and it’s your decision that I don’t have to agree with. But remember – every woman is someone’s daughter and she deserves to have a chance to be clean and sanitary. Sheila’s Daughter is the program that I run through #traindirtyfitness to give someone else’s momma a chance that mine didn’t have. •●•●•●•●•●•●
I am Sheila’s Daughter, the daughter of a drug addict, the daughter of a prostitute, and the daughter of a thief. I don’t say that with shame anymore though because every woman that we help deserves the right to be respected and treated with love ♡ My mom didn’t see herself as valuable, but she was. She was mine and to me, she was priceless ☆ #TakeDownFear
So there it is, my story. Raw, unfiltered, and a little too exposed. I am who I am and I am not ashamed.
I am Sheila’s Daughter.