We received a request from a mother, nurse, and recovering substance abuser. She shared this drug addiction letter with us. It is a plea and battle hymn to her daughter. We have read quite a few addiction letters – this one stole our heart:
Hey, I’m Ashleigh. I’m a 31-year-old single mom who’s also an addiction recovering, depression-dodging, obsessive-compulsive nurse.
I’m fighting to abolish our world’s nastiest stigmas one verse at a time. I siphon my passion from my soul and use my experiences, my strengths, my weaknesses, my joy, and my heartache to aid me on my mission to put a “pretty” face to some of the ugliest stigmas.
I’ve turned to writing as an outlet and have gotten some great feedback. Just need a little help sharing the hope.
Here is what she needed to say to her daughter:
To my daughter-
If you ever find yourself in the arms of your teacher, crying, feeling what I can only imagine being the worst feeling you’ve felt up to this point in your life – that mommy is abandoning you – please know I’d never leave you. Know I will always come back, and you will always be in the hands of someone who I trust to care for you as though you were their own.
If one of your peers ever makes you feel like you are less than, like you aren’t an equal, I hope you remember how important it is to be the bigger person. To be different. Anyone can swim down stream, but it takes someone special to go against the current. To not merely ride the waves as they come in, but rather crash and burn with them as the tide goes out. I hope you remember that no matter how ugly a person can be towards you, the power is in your hands. It’s your choice whether you will hold up a mirror and help them see the world in your light or if you’ll shatter the beauty of your reflection and cut them with the shards of your own ugliness.
I hope you never forget that we all hold, within us, the ability to stray; to go rogue. Deep inside of all of us, the capability of becoming heinous, lays dormant. My only hope is that you always remember the decision is yours. And I pray you’ll make the right one.
If you’re ever the girl on her knees praying to the porcelain gods to purge you of your flaws, I hope you remember that you should never strive to be less. You should always want to be more, to be better. More of a woman. More of an empath. More capable of understanding. Life is full of shortcomings; I hope you attack your imperfections head on and show the universe how perfectly imperfect you are.
I hope you always choose to be the firework in a world where the more we stand out, the more we’re suppressed. Don’t let anybody quiet your voice. And don’t ever let your voice grow so loud you silence someone else’s.
Be the first to get up and defend your beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you are alone. All that matters is that while everyone else is shrinking down into their seats, you are standing up. Remember you can’t change the world but you can pave the way to be followed. You do not want to be the boulder that sinks, you want to be the pebble that causes a ripple.
So be bold. Be bright. Be brilliant. Be that one match that can cause a fucking explosion. Even stars go down in flames, and when we are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them crashing towards the earth, we don’t mourn what we’ve lost, we admire how tragically beautiful it can be to fall.
If you’re ever the girl strung out on the dirty floor of a bathroom in 7-11, I hope you remember that you’re the one in control. That you can change. That even the greatest poet sometimes forgets how to rhyme. That Rome wasn’t built in a day. That Beethoven was deaf, and Albert Einstein had a learning disability. I hope you remember that some of the most beautiful places in this world were born of ruins and that even diamonds start out merely as carbon compound. It’s the pressure it endures that makes it beautiful.
Remember the choice is always yours. And your actions have consequences. Sure, you have my permission — get high. Go to hell with yourself. But remember it only takes one time to get addicted, one dirty needle to get AIDS, one bump to fry your brains and “one last time” to overdose and die. I have no doubt that you can sink, but my girl, I hope you’ll spread those big beautiful wings and fly.
If you’re ever the girl being held up against the wall by your neck, at the hands of another person, I hope you fight. If you’re ever the girl sitting in front of a mirror caking on foundation and wearing sunglasses at night, I hope you fight. If you’re ever the girl who says “No” but it goes unheard, fight. Bite. Scream. Punch. Kick the ever living shit out of whoever you need to to get out alive. I don’t care if it’s a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a parent, a friend… do not ever let another human being think they have that kind of control over you.
Never throw the first punch but make sure you always throw the last. I’ll always have your back, but you need to hold your own. There will come a time in your life when it will feel like you’re all alone, and though you won’t be, you’ll need to have the inner strength and self-love to put up a fight for yourself. Don’t ever let somebody else use their fists or their words as weapons. And don’t you dare ever use yours that way either.
If you’re ever the girl with a razor to her wrist, gun to her head, or a bottle of pills to her mouth – I hope you remember how loved you are, and how dark of a place this world would be without you in it. I hope you see my face in your memory and feel my arms embracing you while you’re trembling, trying to hang on. I hope you know that there is nothing you could ever do to destroy my love for you. But the end of you would mean the end of me. There is no mistake so big it cannot be forgiven, and there is no road traveled so lost that you cannot back up and turn around.
If you ever find yourself in any of these girls, I hope you can remember that I am here. That it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, even if we are oceans apart, you are forever tethered to me, and no sooner than you can fall, will I retract. Even when you hate me for it, I will be your safety net, your designated driver, your lawyer, your nurse, your voice of reason, your personal press agent, your best friend, your link to the past and your spaceship to the future. And, when the day comes – and it will – where you do find yourself in these girls, even if only in parts, I hope you are able to find me there in them as well.
The tears rolling down your cheeks once ran down mine. The voice screaming at you to give up once deafened me. The needle in your arm once collapsed my vein. The toilet that you’re hovering over once flushed my flaws and the blood dripping from your wrists once told my secrets, too. So, even when you feel as though you’ve been reduced to ash, remember it only takes one ember to cause a spark – you only need one spark to make something smolder – and it only takes the slightest smolder to make something go up in flames. And I cannot wait to see the many ways in which I know you’ll set this world on fire. I love you mostest alliostest.