Ghosts: Addictions and Recovery (Part I)


Avrie Thomas, Writer

Ghosts. The world has so many … there are the ghosts most people know about, which are supernatural, but there are also the figurative ghosts that haunt you from your past. These are the ones most people don’t feel comfortable talking about.

Growing up in a less than ideal family can change you as a person. I grew up wondering why I wasn’t enough for my parents to stop using drugs, and why my siblings and I weren’t good enough for them. Why do people let drugs and alcohol consume their lives to an extent where they can’t parent their own children? 

To all the kids who are going through this silently, you are not alone and you are always enoughno matter what your parent’s decisions are. The most recent and accurate statistics found on families say 8.7 million kids live in homes where they have at least one parent with a drug problem. Please know, nothing your parents do while using is based off things you have done, and their decisions don’t shape you. You still have the ability to do whatever you set your mind to. 

I have three siblings, two older and one younger, and we all have different dads but the same birth mom. My older sister, Olivia, is twenty-four and my older brother, Garrett, is almost twenty-two. I have lived with them my whole life, but my younger brother, Sonny, who is eight, has lived with my birth mom Nicole for about two years now, since she is clean 

My older siblings and I have lived with my step grandma, who we all call mom, since I was six months old. My aunt on my dad’s side came by to check on us one day and saw how bad it was there.When she got us, my brother and sister were locked outside, and I was inside screaming. They were trying to get to me, but my birth mom was passed out inside. My aunt took us to my poppy and mom. We never went back. They later adopted us.  

Neither of my birth parents were around much because they were in and out of jail, or just too busy doing drugs to come see us. I don’t remember what it was like before we got with our mom because I was so young, but my sister has told me stories. She was seven at the time and remembers a lot of it. I think my brother represses the memories he has from our past since he was four at the time. He never talks about it.  

When I was younger, I knew my mom was older than most people’s moms, but I didn’t understand she wasn’t my mom until I was around like six or seven. I didn’t know why my birth mom wasn’t around until I was around ten or eleven. The hardest part of growing up in that kind of environment was just wondering why. Why wouldn’t they stop using to be with me and to watch me grow upI knew my situation was different, but it became my normal. 

 I know how blessed I am to have my mom and to be in the home I have but that doesn’t mean life wasn’t tough growing up for me. I have very bad anxiety and struggle with talking to people I don’t know, especially adults in certain situations. It makes it hard to do everyday things—even just walking around the hallways at school. As a defense mechanism, I am poised to think everyone is going to leave me. This makes it hard for me to trust people and to have friends. Seeing how drugs have affected their lives really changed me.  

I used to think it was my fault in some way. Now that I am older, I have begun to understand there was nothing I could have done to control their actions when I was little. I see things differently than most kids my age. My little brother has Asperger syndrome, so when people make fun of other kids with special needs it hits me hard. A lot of kids in school like to joke around about people using drugs or people with special needs, and that’s hard for me. When you know nothing about drug abuse and the impact it has on families, it is not justifiable to joke about it.  

I think most of my problems with anxiety and people leaving me do root from my parents. They were never around like they should have been, and it leaves me feeling insecure about any relationships I have. I haven’t spoken to or seen my dad in a little over two years. He is still going down the wrong path, and I can’t allow myself to get close to him until I know he will do better and not hurt me.  

Now that my mom is clean, I do want to have a strong relationship with her. She has my little brother, whom I love more than anything. She is doing very well in her recovery and I think it is good for her healing to have me to talk with. It’s also good for me to talk to her because I can get answers to some of the things I never understood before. That being said, I am still angry and hurt over everything that happened. But that is one of the things I’m working on. So many bad things happened, but there was nothing I could have done to control it.  

I don’t know if I will ever get over my past, but I know I can learn to accept what happened to my siblings and me. If anything, I would say it taught me so many things. I now know exactly what I don’t want to do. I want to be there for my children in a way that my parents weren’t for me. I don’t want my kids to wonder when or if they will see their mom or dad again.

Still, I wouldn’t change anything about the way I grew up. Yes, it caused me a lot of pain and problems I will always struggle with, but I wouldn’t be where I am now without the family and friends I have. They all understand my struggles and are slowly working with me as I heal and grow.  

If you are a student witnessing addiction in your family and don’t know what to do, there are so many people who can help. Go to the Cartersville High School counseloroffice or any trusted adult for help. Teachers are always here for you, and they have your best interests at heart. There is also a school social worker housed in the gray day care building behind the over-flow parking lot. You can go to her for assistance or ask the counselor’s to help you go see her. Don’t ever feel alone or hopeless.

There is help and hope here at Cartersville High.