I Believe in the Power of Addiction.
I can remember being a naïve, 7 year-old girl riding in the car with my mom across town running errands. We always drove to the downtown police station to pick up my mom’s crossing-guard check. I can vividly recreate the faces of total desperation I saw looking out of the car window as we passed all the homeless people sitting on the street corners. I felt so bad for them. They looked like they were starving and I felt as if I needed to help them. I usually convinced my mom to stop and let me give a dollar to one that had a sign that usually read, “Homeless and hungry.”
Until one day we drove by a man that held a sign that said, “Why lie? I need a beer!”
Are you serious? You are trying to get money from people that worked all day so you can buy a beer? However, at that age, I obviously didn’t comprehend addiction.
As I grew up, my idea about transients changed. I became a child taking care of my mom and raising my younger brother. I knew my mom had a problem, but I couldn’t grasp the seriousness of the “disease”. Overtime, my mom stopped taking care of us. She was always gone at night and asleep during the day. She started becoming aggressive with us. A neighbor friend told me what she thought was wrong with my mom.
It was crack.
I was in disbelief, as was the rest of my family whose disbelief later became denial. After years of waking up to find drugs all over the house and my mom passed out on the floor, I could take no more. I had my friend take me to the Department of Human Services. I thought that it might get my mom’s attention if they threatened to take my brother and me away. We were her everything…
But DHS didn’t threaten to take us away- they did. Over the next few years, the situation literally spiraled downward.
I watched my mom loose our home, her car, our family furniture, her body, and even her children. How could she? I thought she loved us. I thought she loved herself.
But it didn’t matter. She was addicted to crack. Nothing was going to stop her. Not my brother, not me, not self-respect, not broken bones, not even being homeless.
Yes, she became that bum on the corner. The kind I used to want to help. But seeing her like that made me realize that most transients are in that position because of their own selfish actions. It’s not like my mom just decided to be homeless. It was the result of her addiction. It was that instant, the second I believed in the power of addiction and applied it to my mom’s situation, that I grew up. And I don’t ever want to be asked for money again. I refuse to feed an addiction. I refuse to an enabler. And I REFUSE to ever be overtaken by an addiction.
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