Have you ever ran so fast you felt your lungs burning? As I ran from the horrific scene in that hotel room, I knew I’d gone too far, and as I ran I prayed that something would force me away from Her; because if something didn’t then I’d be stuck with her forever. It was time to take care of me instead of my mother, but at 14 sometimes you need someone to help point you in the direction you need to go.
3 years ago I was homeless, living in a hotel with my mother. She had been a recovering addict and was 18 months clean before she relapsed and got kicked out of my grandmother’s house. I loved my mom more than anything in the world and was willing to follow her to Hell and back, and I did. That’s exactly where we ended up. Hell. This hotel was filled with addicts. You walked into our room and all sorts of foul smells filled your nose. Clothes and garbage were scattered across the floor and a bunch of unopened stolen Walmart items littered the bathroom counter waiting to be brought back and returned in exchange for money to buy my mom more drugs. I was heartbroken at the woman she became but I still couldn’t leave her. She needed me. However; one day, I found myself across the street from the hotel with one of the guys staying in the hotel with us. He seemed worried about me and he didn’t want me to walk back to the hotel alone; so he insisted that I go with him to make a quick stop at one of his friend’s hotel room. When we walked into the cramped room holding 2 other strangers, I knew something wasn’t right and I was scared. Before I knew it they were pulling out bags and I was witnessing a heroin drug deal and then they smoked it… right in front of me. I excused myself and as soon as I got out I ran as fast as I could. I had been lucky to have never seen my mom use and I had just saw strangers do it before my very eyes. Tears streaming down my cheeks, choking on sobs, I ran to my hotel room and wished with all my being that something would save me from it all.
A week or so later, my mom came into the room and finished a conversation she was having on the phone. She sat me down across from her, tears filling her dialated eyes and running down her sunken-in cheeks. “Hannah, I want you to stay with your other grandparents for a little while,” She said not taking her eyes from mine.
I remember protesting, asking why, and being terrified what she would do without me. She was already close to becoming just bone and dust and I feared without me she’d let herself waste away completely. However; I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I would not be living with the grandma that had kicked my mother out a couple months before, but with my dad’s parents instead. It was the most absurd life-style I had ever lived upon. They were mormon and every single day we had dinner at 5. I went to family gatherings with them and met cousins I never knew I had. I learned to live a life where I didn’t have to come home to a fight or wonder if dinner would be served. I was so uncomfortable and out of place and I hated them for taking me away from her. Almost everyday I would hide myself away from everyone and cried over memories with my mom like she had passed away. I missed her so much and would have given anything to live with the mom I chose to remember. Eventually though… I stopped calling her. On Mother’s day she called me sobbing and asked if I would spend the day with her, but I knew she was high and I couldn’t bare to see her like that again so I hung up the phone without responding. I chose to not see her and I set a boundary saying I wouldn’t see her again until she sobered up. After spending every waking moment worrying about her, I now hadn’t seen her for 3 months.
One day after school, my grandmother picked me up and told me we were going to the hospital to see my mom. My grandma didn’t give any further information and while we drove in silence I cried and my hand shook because I was so scared. This wasn’t what I pictured. I imagined that first time I saw my mom again that she’d be healthy and clean. When we got to the hospital my mom looked worse than how I left her. She was somehow skinnier and she looked like a skeleton. I saw that she had an enormous bump on her head and ran to her side. When her eyes met mine she burst into tears and starting drowning me in apologies. “It’s called an abscess. It happens when you shoot up drugs instead of smoking them,” she explained in between hiccups, “I am going to get better Hannah, I promise. I am going to a rehab in just a couple weeks and when I get out we can live together again and I’ll be your mom again.”
Despite every doubt in my mind she kept her promise. My mom is now over 2 years clean and sober, and it wasn’t because I stayed around to fix her. It was because I learned to put myself first and I let her hit rock bottom on her own. I learned what I want in life is stability, being mentally healthy and independent. We now have our own apartment and it wasn’t without struggle, but no matter what happens in the future. I know that I have to take care of me first.