Two years into my addiction, Social Services intervened and removed my two oldest children from my care. I wasn’t being a parent, and they weren’t being taken care of emotionally like they should have been. The only thing that mattered to me at that point was my addiction; from the moment I opened my eyes till the time I drank myself into a stupor.
A fire occurred in the house I was living in with my boys and we lost everything. I was told to take them to the hospital to get checked for smoke inhalation, but I didn’t because I thinking only of myself. I was on probation, and had been drinking that morning before the fire started. I knew if I went to the hospital and they smelled booze on my breath, they would have called the cops and charged me with violating my probation. I instead took them to a friend’s house and continued drinking there for the next three days. The police came to the door on the third night with Social Services and took them away. I was devastated, but still didn’t put the bottle away for seven more years. I lived in denial for seven years about what really happened the day of the fire.
The memory of what happened that day never left me, but the story I told others was a complete lie. I couldn’t bring myself to admit the truth, and for those seven years I stayed drunk because I couldn’t deal with the truth about my reckless decisions. I told everybody that my boys’ father started the fire because he was trying to hurt us, but that was nowhere near what happened.
The truth is I had gotten up really early that morning and was drinking like I did everyday. By noon, I was shit-faced and needed a nap. I put the boys in their room and closed the door. My then three-year-old son started playing with my lighter and lit the clothes in his dresser on fire. It took him and his one-year-old brother a while to wake me up, and by the time they did, we had just enough time to get out, but lost everything. I left that fucking lighter lying around, and he was just copying Mommy; “monkey see monkey do.”
Social Services told me what I would have to do to get them back, but I wouldn’t put the bottle away. I finally realized that I would never be able to give them any kind of life until I could do something about my addiction. I agreed to an open adoption, and met the family that would be adopting them many times. They were amazing people and promised that they would talk to my boys about me, and how much I loved them. For the next seven years (after the adoption), I always knew where they were, but I never bothered them. Thank God! That was the only rational and smart decision I made in those seven years. Once I got sober, my heart was wanting to reach out them so badly, but I didn’t feel I had the right too. Just because I had finally straightened my life out, didn’t give me the right to intrude in theirs. I sent birthday cards sporadically and pictures but that was all. I was too ashamed of what happened and too chicken-shit to admit the truth.
Seven months ago, I couldn’t get the fire out of mind. I had to apologize to them, even if I couldn’t speak to them directly. I had to try to reach out to their adopted parents. Once again, I couldn’t bring myself to do it…chicken-shit! Then out of the blue I got a phone call from their adopted mom saying the boys really wanted to talk to me; that they loved me, and were so happy that I had gotten sober and was on the right path.
We talked every week for six months, and their adoptive parents agreed to a visit so they could meet their two little brothers and my husband. I was very excited, but nervous at the same time. When I began speaking to the boys again, I promised them they could ask me anything and that I would always tell them the truth no matter how ashamed I was. My oldest son asked me once if I remembered the fire. I said, “Yes.” He didn’t say anything more, and it really scared me. I had nightmares for a while about it. That was it…he never mentioned it again, but I knew I had to make it right. I was the only one who could tell him the truth about that day, and that’s exactly what I had to do.
During our visit I sat him down and asked, “Son, what do you remember about the fire?” I didn’t know if I had told him the bullshit story I had lied to everyone else about so I needed him to tell me. He said, “Mom I started it by playing with your lighter and you lost everything.” Until that moment, I had no idea what I was going to tell him, but I knew it had to be the truth. I told him that his starting that fire that day, as scary as it was, saved our lives. If that fire had not happened, who knows what could have happened to him and his younger brother. We could have all been killed in a different kind of situation because I wasn’t being a good parent. I told him that God had begun working his miracles in our lives that very moment with that fire. I saw the burden lift from his shoulders after we talked, and my nightmares have since gone away.
I couldn’t change my past mistakes; none of us can, but we sure as hell can own them. My whole addiction was about lying to everyone about everything and now I’ve made my recovery about being honest no matter how shameful I feel. By the grace of God, I’m still alive and have another chance with my family and children. I’m doing it 100% with honesty and humility.
I’m done running from the past.
This brave, honest, and inspirational post was submitted by Lindsay.