My name is Tia, I’m 16 years old and I want to tell you about when I was younger and living with an addict, my mum.
One of the main things I remember was always having to be independent and a little bit more responsible than all the other kids my age.
I cared for my three younger siblings.
I want others to know that things can get better.
To help me tell you the story, I’ve been having a chat with my mum.
The early days
Mum: I remember times when I just couldn’t face things, I couldn’t face being a parent and I would isolate myself in my bedroom.
When you were little, you went to a Halloween party and you were really excited, then I got that call.
I was so off my face when the school called. It was about nine o’clock and I needed to pick you up, do you remember that?
Tia: Yeah, I remember that.
Mum: What was that like for you?
Tia: Well, it was a little bit scary because I didn’t know where you were and I wasn’t aware of anything that was going on at that point.
It didn’t really seem like a big deal at the time: ‘Oh she’s forgot, she always forgets things.’
But I do remember you were always on your own and once we got to bed, it was like: ‘Stay in bed, don’t come out of your room and don’t come in to my room.’
Mum: My room was my cave where I would drink.
But I remember getting that phone call and I couldn’t even leave the house, I got your dad to go pick you up.
Tia: I think when I was younger it didn’t feel like a massive responsibility. If the baby was crying, I would just go and sort out the baby, then sort myself out.
Mum: In my deluded thinking, I genuinely believed that I was a good mum by taking my kids to the pubs with the bouncy castles. I really believed that.
Mum: I got to breaking point when I started smashing up the house and I did some horrendous things with the kids.
I remember saying to you: ‘Get the children in the car.’
My intentions were never to harm you, but driving along I just thought ‘I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to live’ and my second thought was: ‘Well they can’t live without me so I’ll just drive into this wall.’
That was when I put my foot down and then that car came around the corner, I put the brakes on.
I didn’t set out to kill us all, I just became so desperate that I just didn’t want to live anymore.
That must have been really frightening for you.
Tia: Yeah it was because I didn’t know what was happening, I was still so young.
It was quite scary and even now if I am in a car with someone who is driving really fast, that will be the first thing that comes into my head.
Recovery: The long journey
Mum: When I reached out and got help, I just cracked on with recovery. I started becoming teachable. I started listening, not thinking I knew it all.
I was ashamed of how I was as a mum, I was ashamed of the harm I had caused you guys and for me it was a massive thing.
I was being honest for the first time, I had hidden so much.
I couldn’t tell anyone, I couldn’t tell the doctors because they would tell social services. I couldn’t speak to my mum, who wouldn’t understand. I live with that guilt.
We sat down and talked about two years ago and you said how it made you feel. That was really hard for me to hear.
Tia: I think that was the first time we had actually properly spoken about it.
I didn’t know what was going on that day, for me it was just that you got angry and started smashing the house up.
It wasn’t until we were in a meeting that you shared about it and that was when I actually understood what the significance of that day was.
Mum: You’ve come to meetings with me, you are very much a part of my recovery.
Tia: : I want to tell our story because so many people are consumed by guilt. They don’t want to talk about anything because they don’t want people to judge them or don’t know how they will react.
For anyone going through this now, I want to say you just need to hold on. Encourage the addict to get clean but know you can’t make them better.
Never think that it has got anything to do with you, it is them and their behaviour.
Just because they do bad things and say bad things and they are an addict, it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person.
Me and my mum never had the sort of relationship then that we do now. We’re honest, we can talk to each other, we spend time together.
Mum: It’s gaining those support systems, through meetings, sponsorship and doing the work and I was very aware that you didn’t have that.
Then you became a health and wellbeing ambassador yourself. You grew so much from it and found your own way.
I’m so proud of you.
If you’re being affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, you can find help at the BBC Advice pages.
Find out more about the BBC’s Young Reporter project here.
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