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High Times This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Sign 'em, Viv!" he screamed.

I snuckin and watched them go at it once again. Her head was turned up and she staredhim in the eye. I saw her bony fingers fumble with the pen until she had a firmgrasp on it. Her freckled face had been smeared with tears andmascara.

She didn't look like my mommy anymore - my mommy smiled andlaughed - and she didn't act like her, either. I was getting sick just lookingat this imposter, so I tiptoed back to my little brother.

"Tina,why's Daddy here?" He was so small and fragile. His eyes could make a personfeel guilty about something they had nothing to do with. He was clueless, and Ifelt it was my job to keep it that way.

"He brought Mommy a presentfor her birthday," I whispered, but he wasn't your ordinarysix-year-old.

"Mommy's birthday passed!" he countered.

The front door slammed and I knew it would be okay to move around thehouse again. I picked up a book and made my way to the dining room, my brothertagging along. My mother sat there in a trance, something I was accustomedto.

I didn't know what to say, especially since I knew what was in store,so I waited.

"You and Ant are gonna go live with Dad until I getbetter," she said. Then she got up and went to the kitchen. A tear formed,but never made its way down my eleven-year-old cheek. I was sad, but at the sametime grateful and happy to get out of there.

I don't remember exactly whenmy mother got sick, but I do remember having to deal with her illness. It wasn'tuntil a few years ago, however, that I learned that drug abuse is adisease.

* * *

I didn't want to know where my newwallet was with my money inside. My palms itched and my face felt hot. I had anawkward feeling in my stomach, one of anger, frustration, and worst of all,worry. I knew where I had put it, but it wasn't there when I went back toretrieve it. It wasn't the first wallet that had decided to take a stroll on itsown, either.

It was obvious where it had gone, and when my mother blamedthe pizza delivery boy all I could do was laugh. By the time she said she wasgoing on her daily "walk," I was hysterical. After every walk she'dspend an unbelievable amount of time "brushing her teeth" in thebathroom.

She thought she was sly, but I spent time thinking how Icould outwit her, and eventually catch her. There were times when I'd purposelyleave things around just to see if they were "mistakenly thrown away."More often than not, they were.

Pretty soon our house was bare. My brotherand I never saw our child-support checks and there was very little food. It wasimpossible to keep jewelry or money around. It became so bad that I wasembarrassed to bring friends over.

It was as though our valuables were"running off" with my mother's beauty. She became frail; even hergreatly admired freckles seemed to fade. A film of self-disgust and weaknessformed over her sunken eyes. Gradually, my mother was stripped of everything,from her family to her soul.

* * *

Over manyyears, I watched my mom go through things I was not supposed to see. I witnessedher painful withdrawals, her uncontrollable mood swings, and even watched her gethandcuffed several times. There were times when the cops came to our home at 3a.m. and pounded on our door. They had warrants, and wouldn't leave until sheeither let them in or they broke down the door.

Her punishments wereusually to attend rehabilitation meetings, but they didn't work. The judge becamedespondent with my mother's mishaps and decided she needed to be taken out of herenvironment. Our entire family agreed, and she was sent away to a rehabilitationcenter for a month and a half. I remember crying, and then being confused as towhy I was crying. Wasn't it for the best?

When my mom came home, I wasbewildered. She was beautiful again. She had regained a lot of weight, had hercolor back, and seemed so much happier. I had my mommy again! She was smiling andlaughing, and even insisted on cooking. It was awkward but so unbelievablyexciting for my brother and me.

Ever since that day, life has been muchbetter. She's no longer ill and I guess you could say she's making up for losttime. I see her every day and share everything with her. Our relationship hasgrown, and I believe it will continue to get better. We still talk about thepast; it's a big part of our lives, whether we like it or not. We can only dealwith it and use our feelings to help keep her grounded. I think it's importantfor my mom to know how I felt when she was high.

I am the daughter of anex-drug addict. Because of her drug problem, my mother was not there for much ofmy childhood. But, I have learned a great deal from her. Thanks, Mom, for showingme what not to be.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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