My name is Raina; I am the daughter of Violet. I guess growing up, I can’t complain as far as my childhood, but I guess the change started to come in as a teenager. Moving to the D.C. area, as a teenager I would be teased, for the way I talk or stuff like that. So it was like a struggle trying to adjust to my new home. Eventually I did graduate from high school, enlisted in the military, and later married.
As time went on I had new challenges in my marriage and everyday life. On top of dealing with my mom’s addiction because of all the stuff that I was going through I really needed her and I found myself just growing to be angry. My dad was there, but it’s not the same as having your mom. But regardless of what she was doing, she was there for my graduation, for the birth of both of my kids, and regardless of what everyone else thought or said about her, she was still my mom, and that’s who I looked forward to being there for me. I just wanted her to get herself together. Because it was hard when she was out on the streets; sometimes I found myself looking for her. I’ve been in places that I know I shouldn’t be in by myself but I’m like, I’m looking for my mother; basically everyone gave up on her except for me. Like when she went to jail, it was embarrassing and hurtful, but I just wanted my mom back, and I found myself, after going through that time, feeling abandoned.
I was married during this time. I realize now that I got married clinging on to someone to just love me, someone to be there; he ended up being an egghead, he drank and stuff, that’s more so how and when I started drinking and smoking cigarettes. I guess the drinking, honestly, I forgot about everything else, and for that moment I was in my own world. But then as time went on, I found myself, I would go to nightclubs, and I was the shy person but when I drank this other person would come out. But honestly I didn’t think I had a problem, and as time went on I found myself drinking everyday; I had to have a drink everyday, I’d borrow money just to get a drink.
At the time I didn’t see having a problem, I thought it was normal for me, until I noticed a difference when I was going through life on life terms. There was just so many things coming my way I really couldn’t deal with, but in the same breath I still, had my job, tried to manage my home, and all of the normal responsibilities. But deep down, secretly, I was angry, unhappy. I’d be in the comforts of my own home, and I’d drink alone. The drinking –that was my safe place where I would get lost from all of my problems, so I thought. But then my marriage was falling apart, I started dealing with that abandonment, other issues, the cheating; I was like, wait a minute, we’re supposed to be married, we’re supposed to be true to each other, because I opened up completely to him. And when that was over, I mean it was just back to back, I started dating again, but in the same breath, I didn’t know how to date, because I’ve been in this relationship for years and I found myself trying to buy people, trying to buy their love, or trying to do what they do to be accepted. And I guess that’s how I tried to live my life, trying to be accepted, and a people pleaser.
I guess when I hit my bottom, I was just like an emotional wreck; I mean between my family, angry with me for my drinking and the behavior it caused, I just gave up, I said forget it, I can’t do this anymore. I was dealing w/ a knucklehead, everything started falling apart in my life. At the time, I didn’t know how to put it back together.
Raina’s mom Violet shared a pivotal time when Raina’s addiction began to unravel: “When Raina hit her bottom, I was 3yrs clean already, and I started noticing that she always wanted to borrow money. You know, Raina has always been a good worker, she works her butt off, she’s dedicated to her job, and she loves what she’s doing. What really hit me that something was wrong, when she started complaining about her job all the time. And she never had those problems before.”
Raina: My mom is correct it was out of my character.
Violet: “Yeah, it was out of her character. There was something wrong. I didn’t know she had the alcohol problem, I had no clue. I really wasn’t seeing that much of her, but then when I did see her she really hid it, very well.”
I just couldn’t take it anymore. At that point, I was in an abusive relationship and didn’t know how to escape. But what kept me holding on was my kids. I have 2.
I just honestly, cried out to God to help me. I thank God that my Dad always kept us in church, because even though we swayed away from church over the years, I knew who to run back to. That night, I just cried, my daughter, she was a baby, my son was at his grandparent’s house; I was just crying and praying. And of all the people, that showed up that night was my mom. Remember, we didn’t have a relationship; she drove me nuts because I still held the anger and resentment. And of all the people, she came to the door, and I was not expecting that, because that night I was expecting my abusive boyfriend to come; take my money because it was my pay week he always showed up, and he’d like bringing me a long island iced tea, get me twisted, and be gone with all of my money; and that was like every other weekend, a bad pattern.
So my mom shows up and we sat there talking and crying, and sure enough the next day she asked me if I needed help, asking me what’s going on. I opened up and the next day she got me help, that’s when I came to Samaritan Inns, and I thank God for this place.
At first it was a struggle because I was away from my kids; my son went to his grandparents house, my daughter was only about 5 or 6 months my mom handled her child care by setting her up with someone she knew, but I didn’t know the person, so I was like for the 28 days tripping, but trying to stay focused and realize I have to get myself together to even be anything to my kids. My son he’s about to be 14 now, so for the first 8 yrs of his life I was there but I wasn’t; because half the time he’d be cooking his own food at 5yrs old, I mean I just wasn’t there like I was supposed to be.
But going through the process, I came here then I went to transition and that’s when I got a therapeutic job, and I was like I don’t want to do this crap, I’m making more than that and now I’m dropped down to like $7, but that job was what I needed. At the time I didn’t realize it, I just went along with it, with the flow. So I was on that job for about 6 months and I wanted to go to SRO, but my son was over 5 so he couldn’t come. By God’s grace and mercy, through prayer, and continuing to go to church; within 6 months I was able to get back into my field, I’m a lab technician. In that same month I was accepted into the SRO and my daughter came back with me, she lived here with me.
Violet: “Everybody knew her! I get her from the woman who was watching her and take her here for the weekend, and she’d be in everybody’s room, crawling around. I’d really like to go back to when Raina needed help. When I entered into her house that day, it’s a picture that I’ll never forget, I found her in the fetal position in the baby’s room. And I knew that she needed some help.
Raina: “I don’t even think my door was locked. You just came on in.”
Violet: “I had felt something was wrong, and this was about midnight. I had one of the guys that lived in the SRO take me to your house; I told him it was very important because I was feeling something wrong. When I looked around there were liquor bottles all under the sofa I mean it was just a mess. I was like, no, you can’t stay here. If you need help I know where you can go; we can work on this, we can do this together, and that’s what we proceeded to do.
Interviewer: “So Samaritan Inns brought you all back together?”
Raina: Yeah. And it’s where I learned to forgive her because I understand, I mean I can’t put myself in her shoes, but I’m a mother, and I’m a descendent of her so I know I could feel and listen to her story. Because I never knew, her story—how she became addicted, because my 1st yr her 3rd yr clean, we were together. That was the first time I had ever heard her full story.
Violet: Today, we talk; I feel there are some things she doesn’t tell me because I’m her mother. But I always tell her I’m still your friend.
Raina: I guess because I do, I love her to death, but honestly I’m 38 and she’s still thinking I’m that 12/13 yr old little girl because she missed those years. I have kids of my own and sometimes I feel like she is treating me like a kid.
Raina: Back then, that’s over and done with, moving on. I feel it’s time for us to grow in a different sense; she’ll always be my mom. And when stuff hits the fan honestly, she’s the first person that I call. I have 5 yrs of sobriety. I was for 3/4 yrs in a dysfunctional relationship, but I kept coming to my meetings, kept talking, I have a great network. After I left SRO I went to another program which also helped me to regain my independence, I got my son back, and I started paying my rent again.
Samaritan Inns helped me find myself all over again. And today, I love myself. I think highly of myself, and I’m just doing well. My kids, I’m a mother again, I’m the mother I know that I was supposed to have been. Even though me and my son talk, I first asked him for his forgiveness and my daughter thank God, she doesn’t remember. I’m involved in their schools, doing what I have to do, job doing ok. It’s who I am now, moving forward.