Written by Sosha Lewis
We can choose many things in life, but our families aren't one of them. As a child of drug addicts, local blogger Sosha Lewis has turned a childhood filled with addiction, uncertainty and loss into a series of uplifting and inspiring stories of healing and growth. From being a child to having a child, join Lewis on her journey in this guest blog.
The gymnasium was stifling hot even with the heavy metal doors flung open. The audience fanned themselves with the paper programs and were instructed to hold all applause until the very end. I smirked knowing that gran would put two fingers on her tongue and whistle - loudly, and well before the very end.
The first chords of Pomp and Circumstance screeched through the speakers and the Bluefield High School class of 1995 was lead to their seats by the valedictorian. Although I did not graduate with honors, because I quit trying to be smart when I started trying to be, like, you know, totally cool and unaffected, I still got to sit on the stage with the top of my class. I was chosen by my AP English (one of the few classes that I put forth an effort) teacher to write the class poem.
The poem was some drivel asking Father Time to turn back his hands. It was angst-ridden and overly-sentimental. When I approached the podium I looked around and found my family - they took up a large swath of bleachers in the upper corner. I gave them a little nod and cleared my throat. Then I adopted the visage of a serious poet. Or at least that is what I thought. What my face actually portrayed was anger. Sadness. Hurt. Confusion.
When I looked up to see my family, I saw my gran, my younger siblings, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles and a slew of cousins. There was one person missing. My mom. As I became the first person in our immediate family to receive a high school diploma my mom was once again in Alderson Federal Prison.
Not long after I found the syringes on top of a bathroom cabinet, my mother became a two-time inmate. She failed a random drug test, thus violating her
parole. It was possibly even more devastating than the first time she went away.
She had been in such a good place when she got back from her first stint as a convict. We all thought that prison was her proverbial rock bottom and that this would be the time that she not only made positive changes, but made them stick. And, she did - for a while. When she first returned home she was the beautiful, bubbly, loving, fun-filled mom with the mega-watt smile that I remembered from before she and my dad married.
However, after a few months, life settled in. She was no longer praised simply for being a responsible adult. There were no more ticker-tape parades because she pulled a double shift at the Sizzlin. Everyone stopped alerting the news because she packed lunches and signed permission slips in a timely fashion. She started to crumble under the mundaneness of life. The craving was back.
She craved not only the drugs, but the lifestyle - the hustle.
Once again, my life and the lives of my younger brother and sister and my then 62-year old grandmother were in turmoil because of my moms addictions and poor decisions. I walled myself off even more than I had the first time. I pushed everyone away. Hated everyone for having a better life than me...even my two best friends. Triple Threat was no longer in full effect, we were barely in effect at all. It was my fault.
Not long after I stood atop our leaky toilet and ran my hand across the shuttered plastic cabinet in search of a tampon but instead finding a bag of
syringes, one of my best friends parents went to Italy for a week. We partied like Led Zepplin - in their younger years.
On the night before her parents returned, a school night, we decided to go out with a Fouth of July-like bang. Eventually, everyone, but the other third of Triple Threats boyfriend and me, passed out. We started making out - heavily. We stopped. Shocked. Sad. Confused. We swore we would never speak of it and it would never happen again. It did. About 15 minutes later.
I told one person about the incident. Considering a small town gossip grapevine is light years faster than Google it didnt take long for my friend to find out. As sad as I was that our friendship was over and as guilty as I felt about what I had done, there was a small part of me that felt empowered. The day after it happened, I woke up nauseous from the liquor and the guilt, but I had a slight adrenaline rush when I realized that her life was a little less perfect now. We got ready and she gave me a ride to school - in her Corvette.
I hadnt applied myself nearly as much as I should have or could have in high school. However, I did very well in the classes I cared about; English, Journalism and Drama. Furthermore, I had a couple of teachers and an extremely kind guidance counselor who took a special interest in me and basically refused to let me fail.
Despite all the problems in my home life it had always been a given, to me at least, that I would go to college. My grandfather, before he passed away when
I was 14, instilled in me that college was not an option. He left me a sizable college fund in his will. Unfortunately, my mom and uncle talked me into
signing over this fund to them with the assurance that I would have it all back before it was time for college.
I did not.
However, my ever-diligent guidance counselor nominated me for the William and Jeans Swales Scholarship at West Virginia University. It was a full-ride - tuition, books and housing. The scholarship was for a student who showed academic promise and needed financial assistance.
I got the scholarship.
My mom got out of prison in time to drive me the four hours from Bluefield to Morgantown. The campus was huge and bustling. We stood in the financial aid line, bought sweatshirts at the book store and went to lunch. We were just like everyone else. I realized that although there were plenty of students from my hometown also enrolled at WVU it was still so large that I could just blend it.
I embraced using Yokosuk as my last name and I vowed that I would never return to Bluefield for longer than a short visit.
Sosha Lewis is a former buttoned-down corporate executive turned running shorts and t-shirts wearing stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Tony, whom she has known since Kindergarten, are the happy, albeit tired, parents to a talkative, energetic, extroverted four year old, Conley. Between playing the "bad guy" to Conley's Batman and answering approximately 4,756 questions a day, Lewis maintains a blog, Its Not Sasha, and volunteers for Promising Pages. Her writing has been featured in Charlotte Magazine and the anthology Robocup Compendium 2013.Its Not Sasha is a blog about overcoming. Sosha has turned a childhood filled with addiction, uncertainty and loss into a series of uplifting and inspiring stories of healing and growth. By shining light on the darkness that comes from addiction, Sosha throws out the shame and offers up hope. Sometimes funny, other times gritty the stories on It's Not Sasha are filled with honesty, forgiveness, and most of all, love.