A mother wrote me recently: “Your memoir has released me from my shame. Reading your recovery story has shown me how, in spite of everything bad that’s happening now, I can get on with my life and learn to be whole and happy again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
My story takes you through my recovery from addiction and the effects of living with it. But it didn’t start out that way. I began it several years ago solely as a story about my daughter’s substance use disorder. And as I got deeper into the writing of it I realized that there was much more of a story to tell, and that that story began with me in my childhood.
And so I began the excavation process, the unfolding of my life, and laid myself out before the reader in the Introduction. Annie didn’t get sick in a vacuum. She is the latest in at least four generations of troubled souls. So I allow you, the reader, to get to know me long before my daughter was hijacked by this cruel disease. It adds another dimension to my very personal story, and allows you to consider that addiction is often a generational illness. And you will see why it is, indeed, “A Mother’s Story.”
Ironically it was my daughter whose disease brought me to a place of wellness and peace in my life. All the ugliness of behavior and spirit that often goes with unbridled substance use disorder is documented in the book, as addiction is a monster that takes few prisoners. Yet Annie was a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her before this disease seduced her. Her tapestry described in the book reminds us that beauty is often born out of loss.
This is a story about my recovery in the face of all this heartbreak. How I’ve been able to accomplish this is a testimony to the power of spiritual transformation. And so, paralleling the roller coaster ride of her illness, I share with the reader throughout the book my evolving recovery and my journey toward serenity.
This journey has freed my children from the same oppression that held me hostage growing up. Many people who have suffered through the darkness of substance use disorder are consumed by despair. But as I continue to grow and change, my loved ones are the beneficiaries. Perhaps some elements of my story will resonate with you as well.
© Maggie C. Romero. A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Mercury HeartLink, 2014).