By Rachel E. Bledsoe from The Misfits of a Mountain Mama
In my younger days when I did something wrong, my mama would say “you look at me when I’m talking to you.”
I didn’t want to hold my head up to look at her. I felt shame. Guilt. Fear. Discomfort. She didn’t strike me. She scolded me, which at times felt worse than being hit. Because I’d disappointed her. She’d raised me better. She instilled in me a certain set of values. Her daughter, me, was not to hold myself in a higher esteem than others. These words concentrate in my core today:
THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.
And I went; right into snorting pills and wanting to die, I went. And for three years: a birth, a middle intoxication, and an end. And in my ending came my rebirth. In my beginning I wanted the slightest bit of comfort. I wanted the nightmares to end. Extreme childhood trauma never goes away. You learn to live with it replaying in the background like heavy metal music blasting inside of an elevator. It’s there, it can’t be ignored. It drowns out the rationality. But it will never mute out the persistent rage. I was drowning, although I could’t see the tidal waves swirling around my demise.
I grew worse because pills don’t solve problems. They only added layers to problematic years. But they added a protective layer of comfort. I believed myself to finally be untouchable. No man could hurt me anymore because I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t feel love. I couldn’t feel the reminders. I became lost in my own disconnect. I snorted more pills than was ever prescribed because my body craved them. I believed I needed them. And they were readily available. Those pills were there when humans weren’t. My mother, sister, and boyfriend tried talking.
Mother’s Day. Too much fog to know the date.
Mama said I wasn’t allowed at the house anymore because she couldn’t trust me. She had a right not to trust me. I was an addict. I was untrustworthy. I’d stole things. I couldn’t look my mother in the eye. I met her outside my apartment to give her a Mother’s Day gift. It was a necklace I had picked up at a department store. I had bought it for her. It looked deceiving to the naked eye. It appeared to be expensive. It was only a trinket. Nothing more. After my Mama told me she couldn’t allow me at her house any more, I handed her the necklace. Told her, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I couldn’t look her in the eye. More shame. You can fool a lot of people, but you can’t fool the woman who raised you.
I kept snorting pills even after being hit with the heartbreaking Mother’s Day truth. My own family had to distance themselves from me. Maybe in my addicted state I was a liability. Maybe it was tough love. Maybe I wasn’t worth saving.
Maybe I should have died.
I know how those feelings creep into a mind.
Worthless. No one will ever love you. Your own father hated you. You aren’t worth anything. You’ll never be anything. Ugly. Fat Pig. Horse Smile. Unworthy of affection. Unworthy of being a wife, of ever becoming a mother, of getting a decent paying job. No one loves you. No one will ever love you. No one wants you. You’d be better off dead.
Those have been my thoughts.
I tried. I took enough pills to die. More than once I choked down bottles. I snorted pills and laid comatose in a bathtub, waiting. I cried for death to tiptoe into my room and relieve me of my incessant thoughts and the never-ending pain. Took a dull knife to my wrists after I found my boyfriend cheating on me in college. Tiny little scar on my right arm below the central vein. Most people never see it. I know it’s there. In the summer months it shines as a reminder. Tanned skin shows the white mark of wanting to die a bit brighter.
Took so many pills once the hospital had to waste their time shoving a tube down my nose and into my throat, to save me. They pumped the charcoal down. They promised me as the pills floated their way back if I ever tried this again the next time they would use a tube the size of a garden hose. I wouldn’t seek their help again. The tiny tube hurt enough.
It didn’t save me.
I spent almost twenty years of my life trying to die. Begging God to take me. He never took me though. No, sir. I’m sitting here sipping Gatorade, typing.
Maybe those people shouldn’t have wasted their time on me. Because I wanted to die. Because I later turned into a full fledge, pill snorting, drunken gambling addict. I should have been weeded out. Survival of fittest, right? No good pieces of shit aren’t fit. They ain’t worth the time of day. They have no desire to save themselves.
Until they do.
Withdrawal isn’t natural. It stays with you every day. Addiction will tell you, “I’m here. I can help you. I’ll save you. I’m your friend. I’m the only friend you need. l love you. I care about you.” There is nothing natural in addiction. There is no natural selection when mothers bury children. That shit isn’t natural. We are not adapting to create a better version of ourselves. We are not evolving. We are watching death. We are cheering it on like morbid bystanders at a death match. We are gathering in the comments and fighting social media injustices.
What did they call us?
I picked my weapon of choice a long time ago. I am not your success story. By the grace of God I’ve been granted one talent. That talent has SAVED ME. Even when I wasn’t worth saving. When I stole… When I lied.. When I gambled my paychecks away.. When I snorted myself into an incoherent oblivion… I still clung to one piece of myself. I can write. I can tell you one girl’s story about being ashamed, about living daily with guilt.
And I’ve done just that.
I’ve bled my worst days.
Look to the right hand side of your screen. There’s a box telling you where my writing has been featured. Places pay for my words now. Except for these. These words aren’t for sale.
I wasn’t worth saving though.
Until I decided to save myself.
Because I made one decision to not snort pills. To be a better version of myself and to become my best self, I get to wake up each day and live my dream. I write every damn day.
Because I WAS WORTH SAVING. Today I am a mother to a beautiful three year-old boy. I gave three people a grandchild born of my sober body. I wake up to a little boy who doesn’t know yet his mother used to be a so-called ‘addict’ by society’s standards and some people think she should have been left to die. He doesn’t know how people are talking that she would’ve been better off dead, because for three years of her entire life… she wasn’t well. She was sick. She depended on drugs to function. He doesn’t know a hospital once shoved a tube down my throat to save me.
As for our medical industry, YOU PEOPLE STARTED THIS EPIDEMIC. YOU PRESCRIBED PILLS IN AN OVERABUNDANCE. YOU GOT PEOPLE HOOKED. YOU KEPT THEM COMING BACK FOR MORE. TELLING THEM THEY NEEDED HIGHLY LETHAL PILLS. IT WAS OKAY TO TAKE THEM. THEN YOU CUT THEM OFF COLD TURKEY WITH NO SOLUTION TO FIX WHAT YOU HAD STARTED.
We were called ‘pill-billies’ before the heroin came a-knocking.
OWN YOUR SHIT. OWN IT WHEN IT SHOWS UP AT YOUR DOOR!
YOU ARE REAPING WHAT YOUR INDUSTRY SOWED.
My pills came straight from one your trusted, reliable facilities. They flowed like a torrential rainstorm on a muggy, humid summer afternoon. They poured down for three years. They came 400 at a time. You, trusted licensed physicians, prescribed legal fucking highs.
I’M WORTH SAVING.
MY LIFE HAS VALUE.
EVERY LIFE HAS VALUE.
WE ARE NO MAN’S JUDGE OR JURY.
THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel E. Bledsoe is an Appalachian Mama and Misfit. She writes about her adventures, heartaches, and details her life’s journey on her site, The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. She is the also co-author at Wri-Ters Establishment with her best friend, Punk. Her writing has been featured on Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, and Scary Mommy along with several other publications. Be sure to follow her by visiting The Misfits of a Mountain Mama’s Facebook page or join her on Twitter @MisfitMtMama.