This is Lois. She’s a mother of five and grandmother of eight, soon nine.
“Them ‘bebe’s kids’,” Lois used to say of her four sons and one daughter when they were young. She explains that they were “bad-ass, bad kids”—rowdy children often not under the control of an adult.
She’s not proud, and she knows her own childhood affected her adult life; after all, she had her first drink at the age of 8 and says she was an addict by her teen years, mimicking her mother’s ways. Yet it was her mother’s attention she’d most wanted back then.
She has regret, a softness in her voice when she talks about raising her kids in Boston many years ago. She’s not proud of the instability and trauma, but says she always tried to take care of the kids: a clean house, food in the fridge. Lois says she was with “the man that I loved,” blinded by this love, in fact, despite his abuse and emotional distance.
At one point, she put the children in temporary foster care when Lois says she couldn’t handle staying sober with them around. That’s around the time she’d had a nervous breakdown, about 10 years into her first recovery.
Relapse occurred a few years after that. It got so bad that eventually someone scrawled “Crack Den” into her front door.
But this was nearly two decades ago. Now, the kids are grown, mostly out of the house, but each struggle with their own addictions, emotions and incarcerations.
Lois has been sober for 14 years and recently graduated with an associate’s degree. She’s at peace. She doesn’t have a man and prefers it that way. “I’m doing me now,” she explains. Recovery meetings, her children and grandchildren, and helping others who struggle with addiction fill her days.
She’s grateful. “I really want to live,” Lois says one day when we meet. “This is the last house on the block for me.” Her biggest dream, she says, is to die clean and sober.
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