‘Mom!’ At 3 a.m. I noticed an entire SWAT team creeping around my car. Tears flooded my eyes.’: Woman overcomes battle with addiction, ‘the strength I’ve gained from my pain is priceless’

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“I recently started writing my testimonial before I had an epiphany and deleted the entire thing to start over. I think the most impactful part of my story isn’t actually my story. It belongs to the ones I’ve hurt.

My world, my everything, my babies.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

Back when I was still just a pill popper, I was taking 10-12 30mg of roxies every day. They were prescribed to me by some drug-peddling doctor who was dead set on premeditating the addiction to countless souls like myself. My first real attempt at chasing sober, I decided since I couldn’t afford treatment, I would walk into the emergency room claiming to be suicidal where they’d have no choice but to admit me to the psych floor where I could safely withdraw from opiates. While in the ER still, they asked me if there was any chance I could be pregnant…I said no with certainty and the nurse placed a detox patch on my chest.

A few moments later, the nurses re-entered my room stating that I was in fact pregnant and removed the patch. I was horrified. I knew the amount of opiates I was ingesting on the daily, and was in no way ready to face such a heavy consequence of birthing a baby born addicted to opiates. The doctor told me I was to be placed on methadone. Initially, this was my goal. I went in to the hospital hoping for the legal high they were offering to millions. But when they told me I’d conceived, it changed everything. I did it cold turkey, against medical advice, and had no problems walking away from my blues.

9 months later, the baby that the doctor assured me would die from withdrawals in the womb, was born. She was everything I’d ever dreamed of, ALL 8lbs 12oz of her were perfect.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker
Courtesy of Amanda Marker

My oldest son is 14. I was just a baby myself when he entered this world so cold. The first time I held him on the outside of my being, I was gently covered him with a love that I’d never known before.

As devastated as I was to bring a baby into this world while being so unqualified to love, I was over the moon with his big beautiful eyes that held the longest of lashes resting peacefully on the tips of his tiny lids.

I internally vowed to protect him forever and started my journey as a mom-child. I hadn’t hit the hardest part of my addiction yet, but I was always dabbling. It started with the coke. It got to where I needed it to function. I would head to work, high as a kite, while watching his separation-anxiety-driven cries at his nana’s window from my rearview mirror…all along, feeling the need to give him the world he deserved.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

One experience stands out the most, one that puts a whole new meaning to beautiful chaos. On this day, I was freshly alone and battling my demons hard. I was torn between giving my babies every ounce of fight that I had left, or giving into my addiction completely, walking away from them forever, for their own good.

I knew I wasn’t ready to let go of the dope, so I made the difficult and selfish decision to walk away and allow them to finally find some peace, without me destroying them. Or so I thought.

I was smoking rocks all day long while they played in the next room, terrified they would catch a contact buzz and wondering what would happen to a child high on crack. This fear was still not enough.

I had promised to take them swimming that day, but the dope kept me locked up all day. Around 8 that evening, I packed the kids up in my frenemy’s car and headed to the yacht club to spend one last night with them before I left. My son, Alek, was so incredibly strong through this time. He’s always been shy like his momma…but on this night, my shy baby boy ran over to a picnic table and stood atop that bench belting out the Ed Sheeran song we had claimed to be ours. The story behind the song is beautiful as well, but I’ll save that one for later. He recited the whole song to me while we cried and then headed up the pier to laugh and love, for just a little longer.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

Thinking back on this night brings all types of raw feelings to the surface. How could I have hurt him so deeply? Why couldn’t I just STOP and fight for the most important boy in my life? I have and still do harbor so much anger with myself. Disgust, even. I hate that part of me more than any hatred I’ve ever experienced. His beautiful, innocent soul was torn apart by his protector. His momma. Me.

The next day, as I was tweaking out with paranoia, I let my daughter’s grandmother come pick her up, and I said goodbye. I walked back into my apartment after ripping my own heart out, took two looks around, and swore I’d never sleep there again. I began to grieve them, knowing damn well I didn’t have to. My benders grew longer because I was literally terrified to close my eyes. If I woke, I knew I’d be back to reality, one I’d created where my babies were no longer by my side. The reality of my babies wondering what was so wrong with them that their own mother could just walk away, leaving them behind.

I cannot explain the pain from this. Though I could have thought logically and reminded myself it was only temporary. I didn’t…but now I know it was part of my healing. Grieving them, pretend grieving or not, was what I needed to do, to finally choose them first. There was a subconscious piece of me that was desperate to fix my sh*t, and that part of me would spend the next 8 months doing anything necessary to exorcise my deepest dwelling demon named addiction, once and for all.

I took my son to school while sobbing hysterically like my baby girl had just died. Alek hugged me and tried hard to comfort his pathetic mother, telling me it was okay to cry. I looked at him and recognized this maturity he had. It crushed my soul and solidified to me that they could finally have a chance at life, if I would just leave them be. I dropped him off to school and selfishly walked away.

I was allowed to visit my son, so I did, here and there. I would show up to his dad’s house, and take him for walk. Walks where we ran through puddles on the street, barefoot and carefree. I tried really hard to give him the freedom to just be a kid. A kid who didn’t have to worry about his mom’s self-destructive ways. Sometimes, we would find a pool to an apartment complex and sneak in for a quick swim before taking him home, more lost and confused each and every time. I will always remember the smile he wore for my protection, though his heart was aching. He spent so many nights worrying for me…typing this now while reliving the tremendous pain I’ve caused him, is making me sick to my stomach.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

Thinking back to his bravery and strength brings up some of the most toxic self-hatred in me. What in the actual f*ck was wrong with me? What kind of mother puts her children through such torture? I still don’t know the answer, but I sure as hell refuse to entirely chalk it up to my addiction. I take full responsibility for my actions, then, now, and later, and that is what will keep me focused on the right path. To blame my addiction for their hurt is a copout I’m not willing to make.

My ego has not one ounce of shame in telling this story. I need to be open and honest, reliving this every day that I can. My children need to know exactly how damn sorry I am…I will spend my life assuring them that everything I did had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with MY brokenness. MY bad decisions. They were perfectly unflawed. It was me who wasn’t good enough, never them.

The words ‘I’m sorry’ will NEVER suffice…the only chance at redemption I have is to live out my apology in real time and be the example they have always needed me to be. Actions speak louder than words, every. damn. time.

I have now rebuilt my new life based completely around how I wish to see them live someday when I’m long gone. I’m working on building them a map should they ever fall victim to this undesirable genetic mutation called addiction, inherited by me and very much so without their permission.

In the midst of my intoxicated fog, my subconscious mind knew exactly what it was doing. Looking back now, I see everything and how it played out, as nothing short of a miracle. I remember never allowing myself to feel normal. Seeming normal in public was dangerous to my growth, so I made myself act like, look like, and sound like the junkie mom that I was.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

There was another experience throughout this time that sticks out more than the rest. This time, my victim was my own mother. One night after I had been on a 6-day bender with literally no sleep, I took my last hit and swallowed a gram of molly, or what I thought was molly. It ended up being bathsalts.

I headed to my quiet car and called home. It was probably 3 a.m. and my poor momma didn’t even hesitate to answer. She talked to me while I sobbed about how my babies were yearning for me, and she just listened. Listened to me hating myself for what I’d become, so much that I was praying for death to a God that I’d never taken the time to know. As I sat there with eyes flooded by tears, I noticed there was an entire swat team creeping around the vehicle. I was in a complete panic and kept telling mom to be quiet before they heard her.

The swat team was never there. It was all in my head. Thinking about how she must have felt that night is one of my biggest reasons to never hurt her like that again. I cannot imagine the fear she felt. There were many more calls like this to her…calls where I was ensuring her that she, too, would soon be grieving the loss of her child.

I would call her and hang up after a few minutes because I was sure that she was tracing my calls. The paranoia consumed me and I fought it like hell. I now know the intoxicated paranoia was there trying to save my life no matter how hard I resisted it. But I just wouldn’t listen.

I was homeless and starving, because the dope had me locked down that hard. Once in awhile, I’d stay in motel rooms, thankful for a warm shower and a bed. Most nights in these motel rooms, I had large quantities of dope and would end up fleeing the room out of intense fear for being cornered in a room full of illegal narcotics. Later, I picked up a fishing habit. It was the only thing I could do where I didn’t wind up sitting in a dirty bathroom all night smoking crack. So I did it, a lot.

Courtesy of Amanda Marker

Recently, I saw a video I’d accidentally recorded while attempting to use the flashlight while I put my fishing line on. I was sitting on the dock behind Casa De Lloma at about 4 a.m., talking to myself. Hearing this video makes me soul shutter. I have absolutely no idea who that girl was.

I will die trying to right my wrongs to them all. I cannot place words for the guilt inside of me that, to this day, causes me to constantly seek punishment for myself. If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Why and how in the world could she have been so selfish to consistently choose drugs over her babies?’ you are not alone. I ask myself this question everyday. There are no excuses for such behavior and though I’ve not received proper treatment, the guilt and desire to teach them how to overcome is so much stronger than any treatment offered.

Today, I stand tall in my story, not proud of the story itself, but proud of the ability to overcome. There was a large portion of my life spent believing I was incapable…knowing what I now know, there’s nothing you can tell me I cannot do. The strength I’ve gained from my pain is priceless.

I know that my story isn’t about me anymore. It’s meant to be shared with the broken so they, too, can overcome. Wandering through the first half of my life aimlessly, searching for my purpose, caused me great suffering. Little did I know that my story and voice of survival was/is my life’s purpose. Sharing these experiences to guide the lost, is exactly the reason I was placed on this earth. Now, I am forever a messenger of pain-to-purpose.”

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Courtesy of Amanda Marker
Courtesy of Amanda Marker

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Marker. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Amanda:

‘Are you okay?’ I was visibly a junkie. This man took me to his home where his girlfriend was waiting.’: Woman reminisces on stranger’s ‘beautiful act of kindness’ during active addiction

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