I was born into a severely dysfunctional family, riddled with addiction and abuse. My mother was hooked on drugs by the age of 15. At 17, she was pregnant with me. But, incidentally, she wasn’t my abuser. She was simply the one, other than my absent biological father, who abandoned me.
Born without obvious, physical drug-related deformities—thankfully, my mother abstained from heroin, her drug of choice, throughout her pregnancy—I was the only child to my mother and sole grandbaby to her parents. As a baby, we lived with my grandparents who helped my mother raise me—co-parenting, so to speak.
My grandmother was a teetotaler. She never touched an illegal drug or consumed an alcoholic beverage. But she was a heavy smoker, an addiction that would eventually take her life.
She was the daughter of an alcoholic; a very abusive man. According to my grandmother, he had subjected her to violence all her life. Witness to the beatings of her own mother, she suffered a great deal. Through broken conversations, she also revealed his tendencies toward sexual abuse.
Eleven years older than her only sibling, she was forced to bear the abuse, alone.
She never received counseling or help of any kind. Choosing simply to steer clear of the substance she blamed for her pain, she chose a life of sobriety. Her only tool for coping was to escape her home by marrying young and burying herself in work; distractions she acquired at the early age of 15.
Her only child – my mother – suffered at the hands of her father, too. Sexually abused, my mother became obese; a common defense mechanism for victims of sexual violations. The obesity was an embarrassment to my grandmother who, due to her adverse childhood, had become afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies and other ACOA-related issues.
At 11 years old, my mother was prescribed amphetamine-based diet pills, at my grandmother’s request.
Four years later, she was an addict, willing to try anything to get her fix and provide an emotional escape.
My grandmother took no responsibility. From her perspective, she simply became a victim of addiction, again. Eventually, I became a victim to her and all her untreated ACOA issues, while she seemingly transformed into her father and became my main abuser.