I feel like I’m always battling stigma and shame. The stigma attached to mental health issues and addiction, but on top of that I am a mother who has a child that doesn’t live with me. For me, there is no greater shame. I was once deemed unfit to parent my daughter.
The stigma surrounding this issue is immense. I feel as though I can’t even mention my first Born’s name – because of the shame, and how socially unacceptable it is to be a mother without her child. I was once considered that ‘BAD’ a mother that my child was removed from my care.
I long to discuss my guilt, my need to put things right, my pain and unresolved grief for Alice.
Part of my continued drinking after she was gone, was all very selfish and self pitying, I thought ‘ Well, what’s the point now anyhow? ‘
I still think of Alice daily, and I am less ashamed to talk about her, but I always think people, especially other mothers, are looking at me with anger and judgement. It’s such a difficult thing to be open about.
Lately I’ve been reading books by women in recovery, and most of them are written by women with high flying careers that managed to get a grip on their own addiction BEFORE their children were removed. Luckily for them, I say. I was Not a high flying, wine slugging, middle class alcoholic, I was the alcoholic mother swigging vodka from a water bottle at toddler groups and hiding the empty bottles in public toilets.
Rightly so, they removed my eldest daughter. I do not feel bitter or resentful about this fact any longer.
I feel deep sadness and guilt that I couldn’t stop drinking Before things got so bad.
I cling to the hope that one day, Alice will look for me, and she’ll want answers. I have Hope. Or perhaps I will find the inner strength to actually go and search for her myself one day.
For now, though, shame and stigma keeps me stuck.