One of the many blessings I have received in recovery is the new and exciting relationship I have with my mom. Anyone who knows me, understands what a huge deal this is. Let’s just say, Mom and I never, ever, saw eye-to-eye. If Momma said the sky was blue, I would argue it was black. If she said I couldn’t do something, I would do my damnedest to prove her wrong. If she said I couldn’t go somewhere or gave me a curfew, I would defy her. She is the 1st to admit, I was…well…a bit of a challenge. Pig-headed, difficult, defiant and my personal favorite, strong-willed, have all been used to describe my otherwise delightful personality. She and I butted heads from the moment I exited the womb! I probably didn’t even think she birthed me right.
Over the last few months, Mom and I have grown stronger in our honesty, understanding and respect for one another. It is amazing! She (with my Dad right by her side) has done everything possible to learn about the disease of alcoholism and addiction. She has embraced my illness and recovery with no judgment, an unwavering support and best of all, unconditional love. I had never even given her a chance to really know me, much less had the desire to know her. Guess what! Surprise! She is a pretty cool chic! In one of our latest heart-to-hearts, she said something that astounded me. She said, “Leslie, I always knew you were different. Even as a little girl, I knew you were not like your sisters and I didn’t know what to do with you.” Wow! I had no idea she felt that way. Most addicts I know, admit they never felt quite “normal” (whatever that is). My experience was the same. I did everything I could to try and fit in but never hit the mark. I felt socially awkward and learned early to be the master of many faces. I pretended to be like others; said what they said, dressed like they did, hung out with their friends, joined their groups and even tried being a good cheerleader. Example: Summer before 10th grade, our squad went to the beach with chaperones to get to know each other better. The other girls told our chaperones we were all going for a bike ride. While the others were peddling their hearts out, I was on the beach, getting drunk with a bunch of older boys I had just met. See what I mean, I did not just march to the beat of a different drummer, I ran to the beat of a completely different instrument! I had a different face and personality for each group of people I hung around. From the outside looking in, I probably appeared to be like everyone else, but inside, I felt like an outcast. I put on a pretty good show, Academy Award winning, if I do say so myself. Truth be told, I always preferred to be by myself, to isolate. In my own world, I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone else. I wanted so badly to feel differently than I did, to feel included, to feel comfortable in my own skin. When I discovered alcohol for the 1st time, I finally did feel different. I was funny, I was pretty, I could have conversations with people, I was invincible and boy, was I an awesome dancer! It felt “normal” and I liked it…alot. I didn’t know it then but I had just met my best friend for life. So, Momma was right (please, don’t tell her I said that!). I am different and now we know why.
I’ll wrap up with this, about a week ago, she said something that truly touched my heart. Momma said, “Leslie, you know I have had reservations about you making this trip alone, but now I believe in, and have faith in, your faith”. Wow, we’ve come a long way Momma and I sure do love you.