Ten years ago, I was a good mom of two. Today, I'm a much better mom of four, a grandmother and a Residential Services Specialist and Recovery Coach at Our Hope. It's the in-between that's filled with lessons learned the hard way...Crack cocaine was my best friend and my worst enemy
In 2003, I was the happily married mom of a bright 8-year old boy and a beautiful baby girl. Then, my beloved mom died and in late 2005, I went through a nasty divorce from my husband. I thought crack cocaine might help me fight the pain of these losses, but it only led to more loss. My addicted brain thought it would be fine to leave my son with his friend's family for three days while I got numb. When his friend's mom couldn't reach me, Child Protective Services (CPS) got involved. Guess what happened when I thought it would be okay to ignore CPS because my disease told me I knew what was best for my kids? My son was removed from my care and placed with my sister and my beautiful little girl was placed with her father. I had now lost my children.
In 2007, I stopped using because I found out I was pregnant again. However, when my second son was born, he was found to have traces of cocaine in his tiny, little system. He, too, was removed from my care at the hospital and placed with a family member. This was a "perfect excuse" for my addiction to take over again--the downward spiral people talk about was what I was living (if you can call it that). By Christmas Day 2008, I was in jail for larceny, failure to return rental property, and attempted uttering and publishing--all crimes committed to support my addiction--and I was pregnant again.Elijah: My "AHA!" moment
Where motherhood had once brought me great joy, I wasn't happy about being pregnant again. All I wanted to do was get out of jail, get an abortion and start getting high with my "best friend". But about a month into my 90-day sentence, I was reading the Bible and came across the story of Elijah--I just knew that the child I was carrying was a boy who I would name Elijah. This was my "AHA!" moment...Right then and there, I decided to become the best mother I could, just as I was before my disease took over my life. I now had a goal: I would fight to get custody of my kids back and keep the unborn son I would name Elijah.I knew I couldn't recover on my own--I got tested, then I got help
Obviously, I had to stop using to accomplish my goal. Instead of letting my addiction tell me I could do this on my own, I knew I had to ask for help. I was released from jail in March 2009 on an 8-month tether. I went to several parenting classes, Intensive Outpatient Treatment, relapse prevention sessions, Arbor Circle's Parent-Child Assistance Program and got one-on-one counseling. I documented everything I was doing. Elijah was born in August and even though he tested clean for all substances, CPS removed him from my care. I had to leave the hospital for a second time without my son. Instead of turning to my now "worst enemy" for comfort, I fought. I was scared to death, but I knew I had to stay strong to achieve my goal. When I went to court three days later, the judge saw everything I was doing and gave me the chance to take Elijah home with me. Through tears of gratitude, I thanked the judge and the CPS workers for the one and only chance I was offered.Goal accomplishment in progress: Recovering Motherhood and More!
Today, I've been clean for 4 years, 10 months. My oldest son (19) has come back to live with me, my daughter (10) spends entire summers and every other weekend during the school year with me. I'm thrilled to say that my now 6-year old son recently came to spend a weekend with me for the first time and we celebrated his birthday together! Elijah has been in my loving care since I picked him up those three days later.
I became a Recovery Coach in the Spring of 2013 and am in school for my Addictions Certification. I hope to go on to study for my graduate degree in Addictions Counseling. Working at Our Hope represents the first step toward accomplishing my new goal: Helping other women who are suffering from the disease of addiction to realize they are not alone and that with hard work, dedication and HOPE, they, too, can overcome obstacles that they once thought were impossible...And discover joy!
My name is Janice Payne and I am a gratefully recovering addict who has rediscovered the joy of motherhood...and life.
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