A young black girl covers her face as she does schoolwork at the table

“How Addiction Stole My Mother From Me”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

Growing up, my mother was a severe alcoholic. When I was 4 years old, my parents divorced. The courts granted primary custody to my mother. She remarried. I visited my dad every other weekend. Little did he know the horrors that took place within her house. In the beginning, I was too young. I didn’t recognize the signs of her alcoholism, and rather lived as a young, innocent butterfly floating through my childhood. When I eventually got to an age where I recognized her drinking habits, and began to push back against them, things got rough. She began to lash out at me. She would tell me I was worthless, that I had ruined her life. She threw things at me, hit me, restrained me. I had no method of escape. My stepfather worked for our public school system, and thus I felt that I couldn’t tell anyone at school about my circumstances without putting our livelihood at jeopardy. I began to become depressed and developed severe anxiety. I lost friends at school.

My mother began to take me to psychiatrists, hoping to eradicate my “mental illnesses”. I had a therapist, but my mother was always there at every appointment. She was watching like a hawk, making sure I couldn’t spill her secret. There was one point when I was on 13 different medications, SSRIs, sleep aids, or diet medications all to help my “mental illness”. I was not mentally ill. I was trapped. I attempted to take my own life several times, and ended up in a mental health day program, causing me to miss my 8th grade year. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, I was able to escape. Things were getting horrible. Being trapped in the house with my mother was torture. Every night was a nightmare. During periods of virtual schooling, I would stay at my dad’s house as much as possible. There was one day I went to my dad’s house after a brutal encounter with my mother the night before in which I had locked myself in the bathroom to get her to stop hitting me. I slept in the bathtub, crying. When the visit at my dad’s was ending, we got in the car. He went to shift the gear so we could leave, and I grabbed his hand. I started bawling. All I had to say was, “Dad, I don’t want to go home. She’s hitting me.” and he sprang into action.

By the next morning, he had contacted his lawyer and already begun the process of getting me transferred into my new school. We had a court date very soon after, and he was granted custody. I still see my mother, although not often. But I despise addiction. It took my mother from me. I do not want her at my wedding. I do not want her to be the grandmother to my children. I do not want her to be involved in my future. Because of the alcohol, I lost my mom. Although this experience has been horrific and left me with many long-lasting deficits, I am also grateful. I am now a member of a loving community and have learned many lessons. Now living in a single-parent household, I have had to get a job to help pay bills. This has taught me many lessons about responsibility and financial organization that I am sure will prove helpful as I step into the independent world this spring. Additionally, escaping the situation has allowed me to become a social butterfly. Now I can sleep. I live without fear of my own home. I don’t have anxiety or depression, and I have hope for my future. I know, ultimately, that addiction is a disease, and I do hope that my mother receives the help she needs. She did attend a program after our court hearing that would help her overcome her alcoholism, and she graduated from this program about 3 weeks ago, according to my lawyer. I do not hate my mother, but rather I hate the disease that stole my childhood from me. I wish that no one has to go through what I went through, and what she went through.

I would be eternally grateful to receive this scholarship. I am a hard-working high school student who also works part time and volunteers weekly. I would like to, if financially possible, study Aerospace Engineering. I have been accepted to a college, but was provided only minimal scholarship. This award could help me to achieve the dreams that I have held for years, and finally gain independence from a situation that has stolen so much from me. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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