This is for my mother, Trudi Houser, who lost her battle with addiction January 16, 2006. For years since then, Mother’s Day was a hard day for me, but this year I am showing my appreciation to my mom for the person she shaped me into. Mother’s day was a hard day for her, too. She would always get upset around this day and often spent it apologizing to me. So I guess, even before her passing, this day hasn’t been one without emotion.
There are not enough words to describe the person my mother was. I truly believe with the highs and lows of addiction and recovery, you learn every bit of who that person is. I began looking within myself and realizing who I am, too. I realized addiction affects the entire family. Our separation caused us both great pain, but we accepted the fact that her being unable to raise me was not to be looked at negatively. The moment this acceptance happened, our entire relationship changed. My mom no longer spent her time with me apologizing, trying to make up for the wrongs, or comparing my relationship to her versus the one I had with my grandmother, who had been raising me. Her acceptance allowed her to focus on the present and the future. She revisited the past only to educate me on what led her to addiction. This allowed us to refocus our attention and strength on goals we could achieve, and not obsess over the past or fantasize about what the present could have been.
My mom once told me to “make all of this worth something” which I did for myself. I followed my personal dream of becoming a Registered Nurse, now working as a pediatric nurse. In my journey, I took the opportunity to also educate myself about addiction. I had to understand addiction from the medical and scientific perspective, in addition to have witnessed addiction and recovery for nearly my entire life. I have read many studies on addiction and have learned that compared to other areas of healthcare, addiction is a gray area that needs further research.
Over the years since her passing, I’ve revisited her letters, learned about my mom through family and friends, and remembered her life lessons and the impact that her life and death had on me. I have learned that sharing experiences with others lessons the pain, it shows courage to share the powerful hold experiences have over us, and it teaches you and others much about similarities in life. The common theme throughout her addiction was carrying the baggage of negativity, the same one that led her to addiction. She was looking for relief from the negatives, and thought she had found it in drugs. But as she used, her problems only grew and weighed her down further.
My mom once found herself at Friendship House, eager for a new opportunity at life. I am forever grateful that programs like this exist, to help those in need and provide support while starting a new beginning. It was inspirational to me to visit recently and speak with the women there. In only a few minutes of meeting with them, I remembered how beautiful recovery is, and how much strength it took them to get to where they were at that moment.
It is time for me to pass this along to others. My story doesn’t end the way it should have for my mom, but if it can teach another addict a lesson, it can mean something for her. She dreamed of being able to speak to others about addiction, and I vow to fulfill that for her by what she taught me directly and indirectly about addiction and sharing our story with others one day.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s, may you find peace in your day & appreciate the woman you are, as well as honoring the other strong women in your life.
– Heather Houser Bahel (A Resident’s Daughter)