There Is No Shame

I spent so many years hiding my daughter’s addiction.

At first, I just had the feeling that it was nobody else’s business. Then, as time went on, I became uncomfortably aware of society’s reaction to addiction. They’re looked at by the general population as pathetic excuses for human beings. It’s felt to be a problem of lack of self-control, of weak will and poor upbringing.

As I worked harder and harder to hide her addiction from certain family members, close friends and acquaintances, I felt as though I was a hamster spinning on a wheel. I would just manage to sweep one thing under the proverbial rug when another incident would occur. Causing me to scurry once again.

After hearing numerous diatribes about the poor parenting that had to be the root cause of children who’ve “gone wrong”, I couldn’t help but cringe inside.

True or not, this is what people thought of my daughter. This is what they thought of me. It didn’t matter that I had done everything within my power to help my daughter. I shouldered the responsibility of the world’s opinion along with numerous desperate attempts to somehow help my daughter find her way.

I took her to numerous rehabs and detox centers, visits with addiction counselors, meetings with the school. I’d broken down doors (literally) and dragged her home, grounded her and locked up the house tight as a drum (she just jumped out of a second story window), dealt with police and dealers. I did CPR when she stopped breathing and sat by her bed in the ICU when she overdosed. I wanted to scream at the world “I’ve done everything I could” in the face of their judgment.

This was the horror story that I lived every day of my life and mostly hid from the world.

Then cracks began to show on my carefully constructed surface. Even then, I tried to minimize the truth of our situation. I may have been unable to hide the truth but I did my best to be sure that no one knew the full extent of it all. “I don’t want to talk about it” became my standard response.

You see, even with those people who responded in a concerned manner I could often sense a poorly hidden response. Not always conscious, I’m sure. It’s as though those people felt that this would never happen to their child. Or that they would handle things in such and such a way and that would solve the whole problem.

The opinions and judgments of others made me feel so ashamed. I was ashamed of what was happening with my daughter. Ashamed of what was happening to our family. Ashamed that I couldn’t somehow control the situation.

This shame ate at me night and day. I was denying the truth of what my life was like and the pain our whole family was feeling.

It made me depressed, it made me sick and finally it eroded my very self and what I had been through.

Until the day I decided that I was going to be brave. The judgment of others had become such a huge fearful monster hiding within me that I couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired. And I was lonely.

When you can’t be honest with the world, you always feel alone because no one gets to know who you really are and you barely know yourself.

I decided to tell the truth about myself, my daughter and my life. The more I did it, the easier it became. My life was no longer a lie. My experiences are no longer dishonored.

To those who judge or condemn, I look them in the eye and tell them they have no idea what it is like to walk in my shoes, or in my daughter’s, for that matter. And I pray they never will.

My daughter is an addict.

This is my reality.

Carolyn Bateman

Carolyn Bateman is a mother of five and grandmother of a very active three year old. She spends as much time as she can reading, painting and hiding out at the gym.

Previous projects include where she explored aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

She can be found at and on Instagram at cb_shanti
Carolyn Bateman

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