THE JOURNEY TO FORGIVING MY MOTHER
The Healing Journey of a Mother-Daughter Relationship
When I think back to what it was like when I was addicted to heroin, I think of hearing my phone ding and reading the desperate texts from my mother. She would tell me how much she loved me, express her fear that she will never see me alive again, and assure me that when I was ready to get help – she would be there.
I always ignored her messages.
Living in Fear
Before I got sober, my life was driven by a thousand forms of fear. I was scared to talk to my mom because I felt like a disappointment. I was scared to ask for help because the thought of living without drugs was terrifying. On the other hand, the fear that my mother lived in during those years was second to none.
I don’t think she ever slept peacefully, and sometimes, she still has nightmares that I relapse. She would lay awake at night, struggling with the thought of having to bury her daughter. She made up lies to her friends and our family because she was afraid of what people would think if they knew the truth about me. She lived in constant, crippling anxiety when I wouldn’t respond to her text messages, or when I was being resuscitated by paramedics after another overdose.
Despite the pain I put her through, a mothers love is unconditional. When I was finally ready to get help, she answered the phone after the first ring. She finally felt relief.
Healing our relationship isn’t easy. It is something I have to work on on a daily basis. The first time I saw my mom sober, I had been in treatment for three months and was nearing my program completion. She came to visit me in treatment to participate in family therapy, which I had reluctantly agreed to.
We spent most of the session arguing. I was too selfish and close-minded at the time to understand and sympathize with the way she felt. Instead, I blamed a lot of things on her. I blamed her for the fact that when I was younger, I felt uncomfortable sharing my emotions. She simply was trying to make me a strong woman. I blamed her for moving our family to another state before my senior year of high school, but she was doing what she had to do for our family. I didn’t realize that she was doing the best she could.
In the midst of our arguments, my therapist made my mother and I sit across from each other and stare into each other’s eyes for five minutes in silence. Looking into her eyes, all I saw was hatred and judgment. I couldn’t maintain eye contact for more than twenty seconds. I saw my mother as a cold-hearted human being. Today I realize that I was seeing a reflection of myself and that my perception was utterly warped.
Our relationship needed that therapy. We both needed to voice our truth. I needed to express my perception of my mother in order to realize just how warped it was. Doing therapy with my mom taught me that I was the problem.
When I got out of treatment, I put a lot of focus on rebuilding the relationship with my mom. After all, she had always been team Cassidy. I began by calling hear each evening. Opening the lines of communication was a huge step in changing our relationship. In the past, I had been extremely reclusive when it came to my mom. When I did talk to her, our conversations were surface level. In sobriety, however, I let the walls down and began to be honest with my mom about my life. In return, she began to open up to me.
As we started to develop a more nurturing relationship, I decided it was time to take a trip home and spend a week with my mom. I wanted to show her how much I had changed and how much I appreciated her. I boarded a plane to Arkansas with a letter I had prepared.
My second day home, I asked my mom if she would sit down with me. I pulled out my letter as my eyes filled with tears and my hands began to shake. In the letter, I expressed my love and appreciation of everything she had ever done for me. I explained how I had harmed her, and expressed my guilt about my wrongdoings. Then, I told her how I planned to be a better daughter. I asked her if there was anything else I could do to rebuild our relationship.
Her response? To be honest with her and to do everything possible to stay sober. She then cried and held me in her embrace. This was a cornerstone in our new relationship.
My Relationship with My Mom Today
Today I stay in constant contact with my mom. She no longer has to lay awake at night waiting on a phone call to bare bad news. She can finally live in peace. My mom is the first person I call with my problems as well as my successes.
When she has exciting news, she reaches out to me. She has taken up art again, a college passion, and I have some of her artwork hanging in my bedroom. My mom is my number one supporter, and any hard feelings I previously had toward her have disappeared.
Today I tell my mom I love her. I offer her mutual support and love in times of need. I call her for everything, and she has regained trust in me. Our relationship is better than I could have ever imagined, and I have fierce gratitude for my mom today.
Cassidy Webb is an avid writer who works with JourneyPure to spread awareness around addiction and recovery.
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