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.
Home, with the comfort, love and stability that it brings, is a place that I always wanted, coveted. Considering my home, the one with my addicted parents, confused siblings, and burdened grandmother, was often filled with stress and strife, I had no desire to be there.
Family was the other essential nutrient that I craved. I made it my mission to build my own home, make my own family. Therefore, I embraced my college life. My friends became the family that I leaned on, counted on...even if the walls I built around myself during this time hindered me from letting them know.
Another saving grace was that my then boyfriend, now husband, Tonys family took me in as one of their own. His parents provided me not only with love, but with the parental guidance that I desperately needed - all while giving me enough space to figure it all out.
Figuring it out was not easy. There was physical distance between mom and me, I was mapping out my own life, but she still had a powerful hold on me. Furthermore, mom, as she had all my life, had clean, productive stages when I was in college.
I wanted to believe in these stages. Each time that she got clean, I hoped that this would be the time, the time she got clean and stayed clean. During the cleans, as I called them, she would send me care packages filled with sweaters, warm socks, bags of donut holes, and roll after roll of SweeTarts. There would be an envelope of money and a note - a lovely note.
In front of my roommates, even my boyfriend, I would keep my guard up - act as if the care packages werent a big deal. However, alone in my room, I would put the sweaters to my face and breathe her in. By the dim light of my desk lap, Id trace my finger over her perfect school teacher penmanship - so very different than my serial killer scrawl.
Charlotte or Bust
After graduating from WVU, Tony and I moved to Charlotte. We had no jobs, just a whopping $3,000.00 in savings. We were too young and too dumb to know any better. Fortunately, we both found jobs quickly. Charlotte was yet another fresh start.
The cleans, the care package mom was long gone. She was soon calling the toll-free line at my new job - begging for money. When I would say no, she would just continue to call - over and over again. It was difficult to keep smiling and pretending I was talking to a client as my mom called me an assortment of vile names and threatened to pawn anything that wasnt nailed down.
If I didnt give in, she would simply call all day long. However, if I gave in and sent her the money, which always had to be sent Western Union, Tony, who was now my husband, would be upset. It was not that he did not understand the situation - he did, all too well. It was just that he was certain that my mom would never stop asking until I finally said no and meant it.
Despite the on-going issues with my mom, Tony and I were building what we considered a near perfect life. We were married a little over a year after moving to Charlotte. Taking Tonys last name gave me an overwhelming sense of security, of family.
As much as I desired a sense of family there was one aspect of that unit that I was adamant that I wanted no part of - children!
My husband and I were young, newlyweds. We had great jobs, plenty of discretionary income, we ate out, we partied, we took wonderful vacations. Why would we want to mess with our winning formula by adding a kid?
I adopted the slogan: Ive been a mom most of my life. I am tired of taking care of people.
This was partially true. However, what I really was, was scared. Terrified. One night in 2005, after several bottles of wine with some of my favorite female relatives, my 28-year old bluff was called.
Tonys aunt, emboldened by liquid courage, told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was wrong. Dead wrong. That I did want to have children, but I was scared. My floodgates, pushed to their limits by the wine, cracked and then opened - wide. I admitted that I was scared,
I lived in daily fear that my mom was going to die. I was afraid that I would become my mom. I was afraid that my child would get the gene of addiction that I had somehow missed.
That is when my husbands grandmother, Rose, who had been sitting quietly and not drinking, offered some advice that eventually changed my life. She had lost two sons, one to a brain tumor when he was seven and one in a car wreck when he was 15, quietly said, Sosha, I've lived through the worst thing that a mother can live through - twice. However, I would do it all over again.
It took a few years for Grandma Roses advice to completely sink in, but when it did I was overtaken with an almost primal urge to have a baby. Seeing that I had been inundated with how easy it was to get pregnant since before I hit puberty I assumed that Id go off my birth control pills and be pregnant the next day.
This was not the case. Month after month in 2007-2008 the pregnancy tests would come back negative. It was demoralizing and soul crushing.
By nature, I am a competitive person, especially with myself. Furthermore, I am accustomed to succeeding. Therefore, I saw my inability to conceive a child as the ultimate failure. This perceived failure made me overly-sensitive and bitter - especially toward my mom.
My mom was extremely fertile. In addition to the three pregnancies that resulted in me and my siblings, she had miscarried several times and had one abortion. Why did she get to ravage her body with drugs and still get pregnant anytime that she wanted?
By this time, I only saw my mom only on rare occasions. When I saw her at our family reunion in May 2008, she was in a bad way - physically and mentally. Physically she was skinny, with sunken eyes, missing teeth, and ill-fitting hand me down clothes. She did not know that I was trying to conceive. Moreover, my mom certainly didnt know that I was struggling with my inability to do so.
At the family reunion, she smoked one Native Spirit cigarette after the other...she had only started smoking a couple years before. One of her go-to lines had always been, I don't have an addictive personality, I've never drank a cup of coffee and I've never smoked a cigarette. She was the most unnatural smoker I had ever seen.
She was crying when she arrived. She sat down at one of the picnic tables. She removed a letter from her once-again-imprisoned husband, my dad, stating that he had been denied parole, from her back pocket, lit a cigarette, and took a swig from a 20oz Mountain Dew.
Years and years of experience had taught me to steer clear of her when she was like this. I huddled with my cousins, drank some beers, and pretended that everything was great - something else that years and years of experience had taught me.
She did not stay long. I was relieved. It wouldn't have been long until she would have made a scene.
She hugged me, said, I need to go baby doll. I'll talk to you soon. I love you, So-So!
Love you too, mom. Take care of yourself.
These were the last words we spoke to each other. My mom died of a drug overdose in November 2008.
I was six weeks pregnant.
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.