12 Step Planet - No Motherly Instinct
 - Helping Families with Addictions

No Motherly InstinctNo Motherly Instinct 
By April Pfrogner

Family members used to tell me that I lacked the instinct of a mother. I have a bunch of kids so that hurt. Being lost in the powerlessness of addiction, I was on my own for ten years. I missed doctor’s appointments, first days of school; other people cooked them hundreds of dinners that I should have cooked. Something happened to me in those years that I seemingly could not get back. My instinct was to chase the crack pipe or a bag of dope. It was a part of me. It’s what I did, every day, day in and day out. Devotion to their well- being was a job I lost to someone else. Drugs cripple the mind so badly that while in addiction, I actually told people I had no kids. My mind blocked it out. Rendered powerless to a drug also rendered me powerless to every other broken aspect of my life. Acting as if they didn’t exist was easier for my brain to accept I guess. People say that “their kids helped them get clean” but I can say that knowing that I ruined my kids’ lives kept me using drugs some days. I once went to take a hit of crack and looked down at a picture of my son. I could not take the hit before I turned his picture away from me. I couldn’t stand seeing a picture of them, let alone live and in person anymore. My grandfather grows a huge garden and cans vegetables the old fashioned way every year. I remember watching the process. He said it preserved the veggies for a long period of time and kept them from going to waste. Just like my grandfather preserves food God preserved the good in me as well. We burn brain cells and destroy our bodies in addiction but the resilience I have seen in my life and other addicts is amazing. We are reminded of our defects of character in the 12 steps but our assets are what help us DEAL with the defects. I believe God vacuum seals our assets. Coming into recovery, we break the seal open again. The memory is long. I believe I chose to forget about my kids as a defense mechanism. Forgetting does not erase the memory though. New in recovery I would cry as I started remembering things about them. I remembered my son dancing in the yard as a baby, with a sunhat on. I remembered that he started talking before he was a year old and I called him “the smartest boy alive.” I remembered being proud of him and being very protective.  Vivid memories of all the kids rolled through my mind. Some good, most were bad. The ones of my oldest son are the most prevalent because he was with me for much longer than the others. My younger son and daughters were only with me for short periods of time so I lacked the same connection with them. I kept having kids and addiction placed them with my family. Coming into recovery, I still lacked a connection with the younger ones. When I had 2 years clean and sober I started visiting the kids on a weekly basis. All were happy to see me except for the oldest. He would ignore me during the visits and play computer games. One day I handed him my two year NA key tag. I thought he would be proud that I was clean. Instead, he shrugged at it and tossed it on the table. At three years clean a judge gave me back full custody. My son was in the court room and he smiled when the judge said it. That year, I gave my son my 3 year AA coin. He put it in his pocket. I was glad he didn’t just toss it down. He was beginning to talk to me. He was starting to feel at home. At five years clean and sober, I realized that my son was addicted to drugs. Drastic action on my part had to be taken. Recovery had taught me boundaries. Going to any length for my own recovery taught me to go to any length for my son’s recovery. This meant I had to get out of the way. He moved in with his father and decided to admit he is an addict and start a recovery program. I see him frequently. He looks good and sounds good. When he got a month clean, I gave him my five year AA coin that said, “To thine own self be true.”  He looked at me like he finally understood the significance of the coin. He smiled and placed it on his dresser. How does the song go? Cat’s in the Cradle with the silver spoon…I don’t even know what happened to the cradle I had for my son. If I saw it I’d probably cry anyway. I can’t go back and do it again. This makes me want to make today count though. Today is all we have.  I know I didn’t lose my motherly instinct. The fact that I worry about each and every one, tells me so. The fact that I will go to any length to keep them from traveling the death road I traveled, tells me so. Addiction can only take so much. It couldn’t get my soul. My soul belongs to an even higher power. Thanks to that Higher Power, what was good in me is STILL good and what is good in my son is STILL good, and recovery makes the “Good” even BETTER!