Guest blogger Sosha Lewis comes from a long family line of substance abuse, and she writes about her past struggles and present joys on her blog, “It’s Not Sasha.”
My father, also known as “An Inmate of Highlands Potomac Regional Jail,” and I look a lot alike. We both have great hair, and we both love of books and coffee. But only my father is a severe opiate addict who did his first shot of dope when he was 14 years old. For years, my father was a monster to me. A monster I called Steve.
I believed that it was this monster, my father, who turned my mother into the sunken-faced, toothless addict she was when she died. I blamed him for her going to prison, for the syringes I found in the bathroom after she had been clean for so long—I even blamed him for her death. I blamed him even though he was locked away when she went to prison, when I found the needles, when my mother died. But it didn’t matter where he was; I blamed him and I hated him.
The last time I saw my mom was in the summer of 2008 at our family reunion. She was in a bad way, both physically and mentally. Shortly after the reunion, I sent her a letter asking her to write down her story and send it to me. She promised that she was working on it, but that it was very hard and she needed more time. She died of an overdose that fall; the police took her notebook and I never saw it.
After a couple of years, I decided it was times to start the forgiveness process with my father, Steve. He is still in jail, so we write letters to each other. After a few exchanges, I decided to ask him to take over my mom’s lost project, to write down his and mom’s story, our family’s story. He obliged.
February 3, 2012
Your mom and I had to sneak around and see each other. We would go over towards Linkous Park. There was a holler over there where we would go and smoke pot and drink wine. You have to understand this was the 70’s and a lot of us kids—that’s what we did.
February 19, 2012
Mainly the fights were because we never had enough money. Blaming each other. Real hard to pay bills when you are strung out.
February 28, 2012
I did my first shot of dope when I was 14. I’ve never been able to shake that feeling of warmth, it just totally engulfs you, it whispers to you that everything will be alright. I have done every drug you can imagine. The longest I’ve been clean is probably six months. I always come back to opiates, to that warmth. I have O.D.’d twice—I was on life support for five days the first time, and three days the second.
I no longer see Steve as a monster. But I don’t see him as my dad, either. It will be a long, slow process, but he has suggested that maybe we can get to know each other as human beings.
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