I have met this courageous woman only by way of an online support group called FASLink. Her online name is Bioclyde. She is honest and insightful and brings great wisdom to our group. Her contributions have often brought me to tears. She is the biological mother of a child with FASD. By getting to know her, and learning her story, I have found more compassion and understanding for biological mothers. It is my hope that you will too. In a recent e-mail giving me permission to post this article, she informed me that she is now "30 years sober and still alive and kickin". If you would like to e-mail her, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tell her you read her article on this site. And here is her post:
Once again I have been given another year of sobriety. This year I celebrate 29 years without using drugs or alcohol. Each year since I joined faslink I want to share my thoughts and feelings with faslinkers. I don't do this to boast, I do it out of necessity.
I come from a fairly dysfucntional family where sharing emotions meant yelling and screaming, where compassion never existed. At a very young age I was a sex toy for one of my siblings and when I tried to disclose the situation to my mother...in her innocence, she didn't respond and blamed me (5 at the time) for causing this to happen. I was hurt, and became very sad inside, so I kept quiet. By the time I reached my teen years my anger had grown but instead of defending myself I hated myself. I was an "A: student in school, always in the top 3, yet I couldn't find a way to ease this terrible pain inside. I was confused and had no where to turn. By the age of 9 I had already found booze, and from the very first sip I liked the warm feelings inside...I felt brave again and I could conquer my "problems." At 14 I got drunk, I had absolutely no intention of drinking...it just happened. I was an emotional wreck already, but became brazen with alcohol in my system. Within a year I became suicidal and I was placed into a Mental Insitute...the records state that I had a " paranoid flavour to my talk." It also describes the rages I had..I still don't remember much of those years...probably because of the 5 to 10 meds I was given. I refused to go home, yet I never once mentioned the insest to anyone. I bided my time, and each time I was allowed home for the weekend I would find a way to escape in the bottle. I can't recall a time that I drank that I didn't get drunk. No one knew, and no one even suspected I was drinking. I did a little research and found out that no one could keep me committed in a Mental Health institute if I was able to support myself financially...so by the age of 18 I found a full-time job and signed myself out!
My drinking continued on a regular, weekly basis. Each pay day I went out with my boyfriend and we drank. I began getting frustrated because no matter how much I drank, I just couldn't seem to get drunk...so I began drinking more. By the age of 25, every saturday I bought a dozen beers, and drank all of them except 1 (for the next day). I needed them just to "warm up" before I went to the bars. This was my rountine every single week, friday & saturday I drank...sunday I didn't, and monday I went to work. My drinking progressed and eventually I drank daily, I wasn't drunk just "under the influence" It got the point where I was drinking from morning until I passed out, come to, and drink some more. By the age of 26 I was living on Skid Row, and I was like this up until October 1978 when I got sick, and discovered I was nearly 4 months pregnant. I immediately stopped drinking, found a place to stay...but alas, alcohol had taken control over my body. At 27 weeks I got drunk because I didn't know that just one drink got me going and no matter how much I wanted to stop, I just couldn't do it. My son was born at 35 weeks gestation. He was small, jittery and I was petrified. When I held him in my arms for the first time in my entire life I felt love for someone. He was a special gift. My problem was, although I just couldn't stay sober I still didn't know I had a drinking problem. I got drunk one more time, but this time something was different. In the middle of this state of drunken stupor I remembered I had a baby, and I remembered I had left him with my sister. I went looking for him, stoned out of my head...It isn't clear exactly what happened and I am only sayin what I was told by others.
It was a chilly night that April, in 1977. I woke up sitting in a bar/restaurant, wondering where I was?? There were ( what I saw) what seemed like 50 coffee cups in front of me, someone was speaking. I looked up and my Dad ( the only person who ever showed me the right kind of love) was standing in front of me. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, I was confused, why was he so sad? he kept saying, "Give me the baby, give me my grandson...please!" I couldn't understand. Finally, I remembered and looked down...there was my tiny baby shivering in only a diaper and a thin shirt on his back. He was only a month old. I handed him to my Dad, who wrapped him gently in a warm blanket. I will never forget the words my father spoke to me that night, they saved my life. he said, "Claudia, I love you, why didn't you tell me you drank this much, why didn't I know?" Then he looked at me with a love I won't forget and said, " I will only say this once, you better get help for your drinking otherwise I will make sure you never get to keep your son." With that he asked me if I was ready, I must have said yes because I came too sitting in my parent's kitchen. That happened to me a lot, I had terrible black outs when I drank. I was told I sat there for hours not saying a word, then I turned to my mother and told her I was going to contact AA. All she said was, " Finally!"
I have never had a drink since. I struggled over the years with mood swings, emotions and reality. One by one I deal with them daily. I have come to terms with my past, and I have no regrets. I suffer from the disease of alcoholism. It's a medical condition that can be fatal. I was diagnosed with a serious liver disease at the onset of my sobriety, but somehow I am still alive. I suffered brain damage, and a chemical imbalance. I won't take meds. I was told 29 years ago that my life would get better, and it did. I was told that if I worked the program, I would begin to change, and continue to change...and that promise came true too. I have no magic solution, just a trust in a power greater than myself and the unconditional love from strangers. I discovered that if I wanted to be happy the only thing I could change was me, and I learned how to forgive my mother...she could only give me what she had received. My son is well and happy now. It was hard to raise him because he too was exposed to alcohol, I had to learn about my own disease before I could parent him and help him reach his own potential.
Life today was good. I had a good day, and I stayed sober one more day. I have no clue about tomorrow, and yesterday is gone. I learn from my mistakes and that is what makes me grow in spirit. Thanks for reading this far.