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Accepting the Past to Move Forward

Sometimes, the pain that addiction causes is more than just physical. I have spent many years learning how to forgive the heartache that I endured throughout my life. My mother’s addiction was excruciating–not only to her, but to me as well. Her mental state caused me emotional turmoil for years, and there is nothing that can ever take those past feelings of pain away. Now that I am older, my mother has quit doing drugs and I have forgiven her for everything that she did in the past, but one thing that is certain is that I will never forget.

A Night to Remember

About eight years ago, I took a trip to my hometown. I had not told anyone that I was going to visit because I wanted to surprise them. When I got to town, my mother was not home. I was informed that she had not been doing very well, and that I could probably find her walking around town. I decided that I would drive around and see if I could find her. I had my son with me, and we were really excited to see everyone. My son was three years old, and in his eyes, we were going on an adventure.

I finally saw a woman walking down the street. Her clothes appeared tattered, her hair was a mess, and she was moving oddly. It was like in scary movies, when someone is possessed, and their body movements are stiff. As I pulled closer, I saw that it was indeed my mother. Her shirt was terribly stained, and her cheeks were shrunken in. It was a horrifying sight, but it was not an unexpected one. She had been on drugs for years, and when she went on binges, it was definitely noticeable.

I asked her if she wanted a ride, and she climbed into the passenger seat. We rode around town for about an hour. She was talking about life and Jesus. Most of what she was saying was belligerent and incoherent, but I was able to catch a couple of words here and there. What little that I did catch pertained to needing money for bills or food or random things. Finally, she looked at me in shock. She had only just realized that she was in the car with her daughter.

After the realization, she began to speak more clearly. She eventually asked me for money for food. I politely declined, but I did offer to take her out to eat, and I also offered to get a hotel room for the three of us for a few days. My stipulation with the hotel room was that no one aside from her, my son, and myself were allowed in or out of the room. She went berserk! She threatened to hurt me if I didn’t let her out of the car, she disowned me because I wouldn’t give her “food” money, and she started screaming “rape” when I let her out. The experience was terrifying and painful for both of us, not to mention the fact that my son was crying because he was scared and confused.

My Realization

It took me quite some time to wrap my head around what had happened that night. For about two years after that incident I hated her. I wanted nothing to do with her because of what she was doing to herself and had done to all of us kids. After some time, it finally hit me. It was not my mother who had disowned me and hurt me; it was the drugs. Sure, she was the one who had taken the drugs, the words had come from her mouth, and the pain was inflicted by her body, but it was something that was no longer in her control. She needed the drugs like plants need water.

The Devil Inside Begins to Heal

When I finally realized the truth, it hurt. It hurt because I had hated her, felt so much anger and animosity towards her, and I kept my son from her. I decided to take a trip home again. When I got back into town, I knew what to expect. It was no surprise that she was in a bad state, but I did not leave her right away this time. I stayed with her, I let her see my son and play with him. When it was bedtime that evening, she informed me that she was going out. I tried to convince her to stay with us, but she didn’t. I explained how happy it would make her grandson, but she only paused for a second before closing the door behind her.

Who knew that those little words would be the start to her recovery? She got high that night, but she came home. She was paranoid and a little out of her mind, but for once she had some self awareness, and she was crying. She told me how much she hated herself for who she had become. Even in her delusional state, we had the most important heart-to-heart talk that we had ever had in my entire life. She was ready to quit, but she needed my help.

It Was All in Her Head

Addiction is most certainly a disease, but it is one that can be treated. The pains that my mother felt were real, but they were in her head. Once she admitted that she needed to quit drinking and doing drugs, that she had several reasons (her family and herself) to quit, and that she had people rooting for her, she was able to step back and reevaluate her life. She realized that she needed us and we needed her.

The pain that we all suffered due to my mother’s addictions was real, but it was not eternal. I can look back now and grimace or I can look forward and smile. I choose to smile, but I also choose to remember. Through my mother’s journey, I have managed to become the person that I am today. I have chosen my own path, and in some instances failed where she failed, but I am now healing and succeeding. I guess what I am trying to say is that it is important to not forget, but it is necessary to move forward.


Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

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