Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Maggie, Heather and Meagn

Dear Maggie, Heather and Meagn,

You don't know me and I really don't know you. Regardless, I have something that is in my heart that will make it burst if it doesn't come out right now.

Maggie, I read your blog for the first time today and I need to tell you that I am so very proud of you. So. Very. Proud. Why I feel like I should tell you this will make sense shortly.

Heather, I've been following your for a bit as you probably know. Being a fellow Minnesotan, I have you on my blog roll but never seem to get around to doing much more than checking in once in awhile. So very glad that today was a day that I did. Congrats on one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. *hugs*

Meagn, know me already and have gotten more comments from me than I’ve left for anyone else in forever. I have a special place in my heart for you and will continue to be one of your biggest bloggy cheerleaders.

Now to explain why.

I am the child of an alcoholic. My mom drank for as long as I can remember. So much happened to me as a result of her dependence on alcohol.

I watched her hop from one bad marriage and/or relationship to another. I watched her dump the 'good guys' because she didn't feel like she deserved to be treated well. I watched her stick it out with the 'bad guys' because she felt like no one else would love her.

I watched her strip for money. I sat next to her in the front seat of the car while she drove drunk. I watched her steal when we needed something and didn’t have any money because she spent it all on booze.

I took abuse from her when she was angry and frustrated with her life. I took abuse from her partners because she was too drunk to defend me or too drunk to notice.

I watched younger siblings because my mom was too drunk or hung over to get out of bed and care for them. I got on school buses and watched their little faces in the window as I drove away and cried and I worried all day that they would be cared for properly. (I was seven.)

I constantly moved from place to place because she couldn’t hold a job or was evicted for not being able to pay bills. I was always the ‘new kid’ and never felt pretty, or smart or important. I was always stared at for having the wrong clothes or the wrong accent or for just being different.

I had little contact with relatives, either because my mother was mad at them because she thought they were judging her or because they too were just as dysfunctional.

I lost my brothers, first one and then two more, because when she decided to leave their fathers she took only me with her. I have three brothers that I have seen very little of in 30 years. (One since I was five and the two others I’ve seen twice since I was 10).

I wondered if my brothers were the lucky ones and worried and thought about them often. At least two of them have spent time in prison and I wonder if I could have done anything for them if I’d stayed, even though staying was not a choice for me. I’d have done it, even though their father was abusing me. For them – I WOULD HAVE STAYED.

I watched my mother try to stop drinking again and again, only to fail when it became time for her to make amends to those she had hurt with her drinking. I saw her enter treatment programs and AA meetings. I watched my mother blame everyone else for why she drank and why her life was unmanageable. I watched her stop drinking again and again and again… until the next time she started because of a bad day, or because we weren’t listening to her or because of a million reasons that we just never understood.

I spent time being shuffled from friend to friend and relative to relative because my mother could not cope with being a parent and her alcoholism at the same time. I went into foster care when my mother went into yet another treatment program and we’d run out of friends and relatives that could or would take me again because of all the bridges my mother had burned with the fuel of her her anger and her drinking.

I went in front of a judge and finally told someone that I could not live with my mother any more. (I was 12.) I loved, and still do love, my mother but finally realized that I wasn’t going to survive if I stayed with her. I watched my mother walk away from me, angered at my ‘betrayal’ of her. She never understood that making the choice I did was the hardest thing I would ever do.

I insisted that the court documents for my custody state clearly that I was to go back to my mother if she ever quit drinking. I made sure the judge knew how much I loved my mother. My mother didn’t know this because she didn’t show up for court, but I wanted her to know in case she ever saw the court documents.
I graduated from high school and went on to college and started my family and got married and swore that I would never be my mother.

I gave up my dream that she would ever really be my mom when her father (my grandfather and one of the few stable people in my life growing up) died and she caused trouble during the process of setting up the funeral – the same funeral where she never showed up. That day I wrote her a letter. I let her know that I loved her and would think of her but that I finally realized that she would never be the mom I needed and that I was saying goodbye to that dream and to her. I asked that she consider herself no longer a part of my life because I needed to think of myself and my children and our safety and happiness and well-being.
I have not heard from her since.

I miss her though. I remember when she was young and pretty and smiling. I remember her singing to me. I remember her laugh. I still love her.

The reason I’m sharing is this:

Maggie, Heather and Meagn, you are giving your children, present or future, the very best gift there is. You are giving them a mother who will be happy, healthy and PRESENT for them. You are giving them good memories that will far outweigh the bad. You are giving them joy and peace and love.

Thanks to you, they will never have to tell a story remotely like the one I have. Don’t get me wrong, my life is good. I’m grateful to God every day for my husband and children. I would not have the blessings I have now if not for what happened then. My history makes me…well…ME.

But…because if what you’ve chosen to do, because of your strength and love for them and for yourself…you will never have to hear them tell a story like mine.

Because your children cannot say thank you, I will do it for them


Much love,


maggie, dammit said...

Oh, honey.

Thank you so much for this. So much.

What a beautiful heart you've got.


Unknown said...

I am so glad you didn't delelte this. I am sorry you went through all that you did and that you've your an inspiration to others.

Thank you for sharing.

God Bless!


Heather of the EO said...

Yes, what Maggie said. Yes. Thank you, Jo.

What you've said here is exactly why I quit. I want to be present for my children and my husband so badly. And I want to learn that I'm worth more than my much more.

Thank you.

Bethie said...

Amazing and inspirational.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Very eloquently put and beautiful.

sjokennedy said...

My Dearest Jo:

Even though I have known your past for years, I find myself wiping away the tears as I read it again....

Just wanted to let you know that I love you!!


Jo said...

Thank you for the nice comments ladies. I'm very touched.

Don't really feel like an inspiration though...I'm just me! LOL

This post is not about me really's about the wonderful thing you are doing for you and those who care about you.

Thank you for the compliments though. It has always been hard for me to accept compliments but I'll do my best!

Thank you Steph, you know I love you too. <3

Zeeke75 said...

Nicely written post. I know I should comment, but not even really sure what to say, other than I LOVE YOU.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to read thing slike this, but not in a bad way. It's more of a gift of my program that I can read something like this and identify- but only up to a point. It's like your mom and I were heading in the same direction, I just managed to get out. I love AA, it saved my life, and kept me from destroying everything that's important to me.

You are strong, brave, beautiful, and have one of the kindest hearts I've met. This capacity for love, for forgiveness, for compassion, (for cheerleading) is a priceless gift, and I'm touched and honored you share it with me.

Melodie said...

Okay. so weird. I just found you twice. Once because I saw your tweet, the next time while doing a search for "alcoholic" on twitter. My husband is an alcoholic too. I can't blog about it so I'm looking for other people who do. Beautiful post. :)

Raychel Celeste said...

Jo, I could not love or respect you more for writing this. I know you don't think of yourself as an inspiration, but you are and your story is. It's inspirational that you allowed yourself to have a beautiful family despite the one you were raised with. It's inspirational that you told this story, not for sympathy or any personal gain, but in support of friends making a life changing decision. You, my dear, are amazing.

Amanda said...

Jo... you are so brave. And significant. And loved.

Thank you for this!

the shoppe owner said...

This was so beautifully shared. I know that it probably seems hopeless, but I hope that someday your mother will free herself of her addiction. Maybe someday she will show up and be that woman you remember, beautiful and smiling and singing. She can't ever be the mother you needed or hoped for any longer, you're a grown woman now and the days where she could have been your superwoman are passed. But maybe someday she will be the grandmother that your children do need and hope for, and a dear friend to you.

Al_Pal said...

I agree with Raychel.
Despite your protest, this is a truly inspiring entry. I'm so glad I came over from Maggie's blog.
Bless you.

Jolene said...

Amazing story! Amazing women! Thanks for sharing! #peoplenamedjokickbutt is an understatement! You Rock!!!