An Open Letter To My Mom — This Is What Your Addiction Cost Me

Artem Sapegin

Dear Mom,

I want to start by saying thank you for all the times you actually were “like a mother” to me. Between dance rehearsals and recitals, driving me to school, going with me to get my first tattoo, taking care of me when I was sick, baking cookies together, and watching Red Sox games with me. You certainly provided me with bright and happy moments that I will always hold on to, and will forever cherish.

Sadly, those memories are overshadowed by your poor life decisions, and more so, by your addiction to drugs. You damaged me in more ways than I think you’ll ever understand, or will ever be able to admit to yourself.

Think about it.

All those years of watching you go in and out rehab, always saying goodbye, never knowing when you were coming back. All those years you dragged me along to your “friend’s” house so you could sneakily snort cocaine in the bathroom while I was forced to hang out with their daughter as a distraction. All those times you would bring me with you to go meet up with your drug dealer, who you disguised as your “friend.” All those nights when I was little and we would be playing board games – you would be jittery and skittish, so I would ask why you were acting strange. You would claim it was because you had been drinking, when unbeknownst to me, you were actually high.

Drugs always came first. You never cared if you put me in danger, and never even considered the damage you were doing to me, mentally.

Because of you…

Trusting Someone Never Comes Easy

You broke my trust so many times, it’s hard for me to trust anyone anymore. I would always let you back into my life, and then you would hurt me all over again. I could never trust in you to be there for the important things. Like the time you spent Christmas in rehab. All those times you said you would get better, and I continued to put my faith in you.

Especially after you’d return home from rehab, I would cling to you, and to hope. I would hold on to those fleeting moments when you acted like a real mom – the moments you were drug-free. But then, you would slip up again, and I would realize, you still had not changed.

My trust in you was broken time and time again, and now, that feeling interferes with my everyday life. I have no idea how to trust someone fully, how to truly believe they won’t hurt me one day like you often did.

I Never Feel Good Enough

No matter what, you continuously chose drugs over your daughters. I excelled in school and was a straight-A student my entire life. I never got in serious trouble, I was a dancer, a hard worker with future career goals and aspirations – but none of that ever mattered to you. You never took the time to care about my achievements. You didn’t show up to my High School OR my College Graduation. When I got my first real job out of college, you never once acknowledged that proud moment in my life.

I know addiction is a disease, but I couldn’t help but internalize the fact that no matter what I did, you still ran back to drugs. I know that addiction can become you if you let it. It can take over your whole life and make you blind to what’s important.

But I didn’t know all that growing up. I did not yet understand the severity of addiction. So to me, it just seemed like nothing was ever good enough for you. Nothing I did gave you any extra reasoning to want to try harder and stop the drugs completely.

Now those feelings resonate within me, and I struggle to have confidence in myself. You disregarded my accomplishments for so long that it’s easy for me to forget to be proud of just how far I have come. Since your reassurance was constantly absent, it has made me struggle to stay strong in a life that makes me feel weak.

My Faith in Love Has Been Shattered

Watching you lie, break promises, cheat, manipulate others. Watching your relationship with Dad implode, mostly due to your issues. I try to leave my heart open and not put my walls up, but I can never forget the fights you had with Dad. The battles you created that ended with the cops having to intervene, and me in the crossfire, defenseless.

You provided me with no sense of faith that love has any power to be nurturing or kind. You only showed me the negative sides of it – its ugliness, its jealousy, its disrespect, its rage. You showed me how it can ultimately destroy two people. Although I have come to find the beauty love has the potential to create, I still question its true meaning. I question its ability to stay loyal, stable, honest, and true forever.

You made it so difficult for me to believe in love.

I Am an Anxious Person

I suffer from anxiety disorder. I’m always worried about something, and my life is often driven by those worries and fears. I guess watching you come and go from my life never provided me with any stability. I was never at ease because of you. You always let me down.

I constantly had to worry if you were coming back, or if the drugs would kill you one day. Like one of the nights that you overdosed and my sisters had to shield me from seeing the atrocious scene taking place right in our kitchen: cops, medics, and your body responding to all the drugs you haphazardly fed it. You left constant turmoil in my mind, constant fear in my heart.

As I got older, I realized that way of thinking never changed. Anxiety essentially took over, and happiness was, and still is, hard for me to maintain. For so long, you’d be there one minute, and gone the next. Whenever I felt happy, it was always short-lived.

Anxiety makes me feel almost as if I can never just embrace the happiness and live fully in that moment. I live ten steps ahead of myself. I worry about the day when something may disrupt any joy I do feel. You showed me happiness never stays, it always leaves, it’s unpredictable, comes in waves, and it has the power to cause pain.

I Will Never Know What It’s Like To Have a Real Mother

You only existed in moments that quickly faded, happy memories that were destroyed by your addiction and unwillingness to change or seek more help. All I get from you now is an occasional text message and hardly ever a phone call. We barely speak, it hurts too much. I never try to get close to you because I know I will just be let down again.

I never knew what it was like to have that mother-daughter bond. I was never able to call you for real advice about work or school or relationships or anything. I am grateful I had my sisters and Dad through the years to keep me grounded.

I still have days where I miss you, days where I am saddened by the fact that I have no mother figure in my life. I notice that I tend to latch on to people I have met over the years like they were a “replacement mom,” or just a motherly figure I could bond with. In a way it was sad, especially because it was never the same as the real thing. I never knew what a real mother was like, and I never will.

I Learned What Not To Do

You chose your life, mom, and all I can say now is that you taught me what not to do with it. You taught me to not be a bad person and to not hurt others the way you often did. You taught me to be kind, supportive, and caring to those around me. You taught me to work hard, stay determined, focus on building a successful future for myself – and that’s exactly what I’m doing so I can ensure I will never end up like you.

And while you caused me weakness, pain, and scars – in a way, it somehow made me a strong person.

So, thank you for teaching me what not to do in this life. I will always love you as my mom, but I will always be hurt by your actions, your addiction, and your unwillingness to try and be a mother. I carry hope for you in my mind, and happier memories of you in my heart.


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About the author

Nikki Zarrella

I hope to help others by sharing my experiences through writing.

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