She was just a child.
She was just a child who liked to drawing pretty pictures of fairies and flower fields, who proudly bragged that she liked Barbies as much as Legos, and who especially liked when Mommy braided her hair with pink ribbons and kissed her on her forehead- even if she leaves yucky lipstick on me- leaving a slight trail of perfume that smelled like candy and love.
She was just a child who sometimes had to spend late nights in the backseat of the car, clutching her favorite stuffed bear, his name is Al, as her mother waited for her nameless dealer, the scary, big man with weird tattoos of weird shapes and stuff, until they sped off into the night, under the influence of who knows what and going who knows where. Sometimes, I just hold Al real tight…we keep each other safe when it’s dark and scary outside.
She was just a child who had a Mommy that sometimes played dress-up and sometimes played dead. She sleeps a lot….Mommy gets very, very tired.
She was just a child who sometimes wished that she could meet meet her Daddy, even though Mommy told her she didn’t know who her Daddy was. She didn’t really understand what that all meant-how can you not know who my Daddy is?!- but she knew that Mommy couldn’t teach her how to throw a baseball or catch a fish. That’s what Daddies were for. This made her sad, but it was also all right..I love my Mommy forever and ever. She’s my superhero.
She was just a child who lied schoolteachers when they asked why Mommy forgot to sign the permission slip, and I didn’t even get to go on that field trip to the zoo to see the elephants, who had to pretend Mommy was sick almost all the time, who had to tell her friends that she could only play at their houses because sorry, my house is messy and stuff.
She was just a child who knew that Mommy took a lot of pills, it’s her medicine, and drank a lot of alcohol, that’s the bad stuff, while she played with her Barbies or Legos quietly on the floor- if she was allowed to play at all. Sometimes, I make too much noise, and Mommy gets mad at me. Then, I just go in my room, and try to be real quiet. I’ll play with my stuffed animals until Mommy feels better.
She was just a child when she learned that some Mommies are sicker than others, that some childhoods aren’t as magical as others, that some kids experience Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies while others learn that we don’t have enough money and life isn’t gonna be fair.
She was just a child when she got taken away-to live with strangers- people who ate strange foods for dinner and played by different Monopoly rules. She cried for Mommy, scared that she had been a bad child, that she had done something horribly and unforgivably wrong. The social worker lady with the cherry lollipops and Mickey Mouse clipboard told her that wasn’t true, that she was a very good girl, that Mommy loved her very much, that Mommy just needed to get some help, and that, in the meantime, she would get to play with some new friends in a new house. But, Mommy told her she shouldn’t trust social workers.
Her new parents were nice, kind of, but they looked different from her and they didn’t know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches the way she liked them, the way Mommy made them, without the crusts.
She was just a child when Mommy suddenly came back, when Mommy was all better, when Mommy now drank a lot of coffee and the pills disappeared, when Mommy became a lot nicer, when Mommy moved them to a new house, and it even has a pool!, and Mommy met a nice man, who she was allowed to call Daddy- even though it wasn’t her real Daddy- and they gave her a new baby sister. And sometimes I get to even hold and feed her!
She was just a child who always felt a sense of loneliness and despair, before she even knew what those words meant, who always wondered why other kids didn’t want to play with her or why other parents made mean looks at Mommy.
She was just a child when she learned the word addiction and heard the phenomenon called drugs, but she was still pretty sure that Mommy just got sick and mean sometimes..and then, pretty soon, if she waited long enough, she’d be happy and fun again.
And, by all means, she was just a child when she tried those same pills and washed it down with that same alcohol- the very things Mommy always told her to stay around from because you don’t wanna end up like me, darling. But if Mommy could do them, were they really so bad?
Maybe they really could make the pain go away. Maybe they really could help her, too.
She was just a child when she became just like Mommy.
*While these are based on true experiences, all reasonable efforts have been made by this writer to protect utmost client and treatment confidentiality. Because of this, names, ages, features, and identifying details in this piece have been changed, omitted, and/or embellished.