Post Series: A Mother's Heartbreak

This blog is a guest contribution from MaryBeth Cichocki, one of the members of the My Recovery Helper Facebook community. MaryBeth is a mother who lost her son to the disease of addiction, and wants to share her story with our readers. To read more of her story, visit

I’ve always compared being the mother of an addict to riding a very fast, very high roller coaster with many sharp twists and turns. During my ride the blindfold would slip off only to be fastened even tighter by my denial of just how bad things really were. You get used to the chaos that has become the norm of life. You learn to hold on during those sharp twists and turns, closing your eyes and making believe the wild ride will be over soon.

During the years his addiction was in full swing there were still times of normal. My addicted son finding employment. Somehow passing the urine drug screen by the grace of God, or the new chemical he found to ingest that would hide all traces of the drugs he loved. Life found a rhythm. I allowed the blindfold to let me think that life would become what I needed it to be, normal. These dreams soon shattered by the powers of the drugs, the chaos returning as jobs were lost and rehabs were sought.

I educated myself about addicts. Reading every book written by their parents. Reading their words and feeling they had invaded the privacy of my life. Thinking if they could survive their journey I could survive mine.

I became addicted to his addiction. Letting myself believe I was in control and accepting that this ride would last forever. Riding the roller coaster became a way of life. The only life we knew. At times it would slow enough to let me take a deep breath. The blinders would slip and I would catch a glimpse of what life could be. My son finally asking for help, a new rehab, a new job. Hope of getting off and walking on stable ground. Hope short lived as we were thrown back onto the ride with the bar firmly in place climbing to the top, seeing his world for what it truly was. Never ending highs and lows, ups and downs.

I found that addiction had a sense of humor. Letting you think getting off the roller coaster is even a possibility. Slowing down just enough to tease your mind.   Allowing you to think that ending the ride would be easy and return your life to a normal that the chaos prevented you from living. Many days I hoped and prayed this ride would come to an end. Be careful what you wish for, they say.

My ride came crashing to an unexpected halt one winter morning. Aftershocks felt from Florida to Delaware. Overdose brought the roller coaster to a screeching halt. Ripping my safety bar and propelling me into a world I never saw coming. Chaos replaced with a deafening quiet. Twists and turns replaced with whys and what ifs. Riding the roller coaster was all I knew. I’d ridden it for years, I wasn’t prepared to get off. I wasn’t prepared for it to stop. I wasn’t prepared to lose my son. Aftershocks rocking this new world, so foreign and painful. This ground shaky and hard to navigate filled with the remains of life as it used to be.

How does someone survive the unthinkable? A life they so wished for now their reality. Missing the chaos that became a way of life. Missing the addict and all the ups and downs of the addiction ride.

Navigating this new world is difficult, heartbreaking, as I remember the ride and think of how different decisions might have changed the ending. Aftershocks as I think of things unsaid and undone. Hindsight, now forefront in my mind allowing me to see what could have been done to slow down this abrupt ending.

Now a mother left behind. Learning to accept the quiet that now replaces the chaos. The ride is over but the ups and downs remain. Days of breathlessness continue as I remember the climb, the hopes and dreams of breaking loose from the grip of addiction and flying free. Days when after shocks place me on unsteady ground shaking me to my core.

A mother’s identity gone with the addict. There is no one to save. I am a saver.    A life has ended, a career is over. My life now twisting and turning out of control. This life I once yearned for and dreamed of is here. I am lost, unprepared.  Mourning the past trying to survive the present, dreading the future. His addiction had me caught up in a craziness that was my normal. My calm, quiet world is foreign. I look back at the roller coaster seeing it differently now. Not as scary as I once thought it to be. Longing to board. Having the bar firmly in place. My son by my side. That life is over, his journey ended, mine beginning.

A mother picking up the pieces of her shattered life. Pieces that will never fit together as before. Picking up the pieces of the life he left behind. Boxes of stuff once considered clutter, now priceless and precious to a mother’s heart. A mother sifting through the rubble of what used to be. A mother trying to make sense of it all.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. beth witt

    I am still riding that roller coaster. Like you I have days I just want it to be over. The violence the lies the hurt the anguish I just want it gone. I wait.for the call and.the police at my door

    Addiction is.not a one person show. It effects anyone the addict touches. It happens in any family any all of life. No one knows the horror till they have lived it. No one knows the heartache and sense of failure you feel as an parent.

    I have always said if my story can help one person then it has been worth it.

    1. michelle w

      Marybeth, ty for posting your stories . I also lost my older son,28 ,on May 1st ,this year. 5 days before his 29th birthday. And had his funeral 2 days before mothers day. I can relate to your stories and feel so empty and cant bare the heart break every morning when i open my eyes. The pain is the worst pain i have ever felt. Im told it really nevers stops. I try to put my positive attitude on everyday at work or in front of ppl. But all i want to do is cry and keep asking why my boy,why our family. I cannot fathom that he is gone. I always think though ,he gave me the best gift of all. My three year old grandson who my boyfriend and i raised since he was three months old. My grandson was in states custody because of this disease, heroin. Long story. Im trying to find my calling ,what i do next. But im really not ready to move forward. I just need to grieve and think about how much im missing my son. I dont want time to heal, i just want him back which is what i have to realize and except that is not going to happen until we meet again. Ty again for sharing your story. Gid bless you and every parent who have lost their children to addiction. <3

  2. Dawn Malkinski

    I lost my daughter to this horrible disease last summer August 7 2014. I am still picking up pieces of my life intertwined with hers. I am breathless every day and yes all the could offs and the should offs . I don’t think I will ever be the same. Your blog is helping me to understand more and I appreciate you for sharing your story. Thank you.
    a broken hearted mom.

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