USA vs. My Mom

USA vs. My Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

USA vs. My Mom

The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.

~Max Lerner

In 2012, 1,276,099 people were arrested for possession of a controlled substance in the United States, according to one website that I researched. My mother was one of them. I would have never thought my mom would end up in prison over prescription medication. I didn’t know you could get addicted to something a doctor prescribed. But ever since my parents separated in 2007, my mom had abused her prescription medication.

Mom has been diagnosed with a number of things, including scoliosis and depression. Along with those diagnoses came several medicines: Oxycontin, Percocet, and Xanax are a few that come to mind. These are highly addictive medications. I believe her addiction started when I was in sixth grade. Her friends would come over, and she’d tell me to go to my room because they were having “adult talk.” I wasn’t ignorant as to what was really going on; I knew she abused her medicine. She crushed up her pills and used a straw or a broken pen to snort them. Once I asked why she didn’t just take them by mouth and she replied that they worked faster when she snorted them. I didn’t really understand why she needed the medicine.

Mom had a new boyfriend when I was in seventh grade. He paid for our apartment, bought her a car, and always made sure we had food and necessities. He seemed like an okay guy, but then I found out that he abused prescription medication too. They were both looking for a better life and somehow they thought that abusing drugs was the answer. They were always nodding off. Holding a conversation with them was nearly impossible. They would drool and mumble things to themselves. Their eyes would roll back and their bodies were lifeless at all hours of the day. If they even started to come down from their high, they would do more drugs.

My mom wasn’t my mom anymore. I became angry; I was tired of watching her do that to herself. It was as if she had just forgotten about me, like she didn’t care about me anymore. I would come home from school and find her passed out. I would run to her with tears rolling down my face because I thought she was dead.

Then my mom and her boyfriend started to sell prescription medications. A guy would give them a certain amount to sell, and they would bring the money back to him and get a piece of it. They claimed it was just “easy money” until they got back on their feet and got real jobs. We always had random people coming and going at our house. This happened throughout the day and even during the night.

Sometime after they started dealing, my mom and her boyfriend began making trips with groups of people to Florida. In Florida, they would all visit multiple doctors’ offices as new patients, get prescriptions, and then go to multiple pharmacies to get the scripts filled. My mom made these trips several times a year. She was trafficking drugs across state lines, a federal offense. In 2011, a group of six people, including my mom, split up into two vehicles and drove down to Florida. On their return, the Georgia State Police pulled over one of the vehicles — one that my mom wasn’t in.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but they were released and drove back to Kentucky. About a month later, they were arrested in Somerset, Kentucky and held in Pulaski County Detention Center. The police offered them a deal — if they named the others involved in the drug activity, they would get reduced sentences. So, they spoke out against my mom and the others involved. On January 31, 2012, a U.S. Marshall found my mother and arrested her. I found out via text message that my mother had been taken to jail. It was the worst day of my life.

I would go to Pulaski County Detention Center about twice a week to see my mom. You were only allowed thirty-minute visits, and you had to sit behind a glass window and talk through a nasty telephone that didn’t work half the time. Most of our visits ended in tears or fights.

My mom went before the judge on September 11, 2012 and pleaded guilty to the drug charges. I went with my grandmother to watch the trial. We sat in the last row and saw my mom enter through the side door in handcuffs and foot cuffs, as if she were a dangerous criminal. She started crying when she saw me, and I did too. I will never forget when the judge asked her if she had anything else to say. Despite the judge’s warning not to look into the seats behind her, my mom turned to face me. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she apologized and told me how much she loved me. It absolutely broke my heart.

The judge sentenced her to fifty-seven to seventy-one months in prison, due to the counts and her criminal history. At first it didn’t hit me that it would be a long time until my mom was back in my life. But now, two years into her sentence, I realize how much time together we have lost; time that we will never get back.

My mom used to be a powerful, independent, lovely woman. She was a single mom, had a job and a house. She was even thinking about going to college to further her education in childcare. Now, she is residing in a federal prison camp, about eight hours away from me. We usually get five-minute phone calls once a week. I haven’t seen my mom in over a year. I haven’t hugged my mom since January 1, 2012.

I can’t help but wonder what our lives could have been like if she hadn’t used prescription drugs. I watched her ruin her life with prescription medication, and because of that, I will never have a normal life. My mom hasn’t had a chance to see me go to my high school proms. She hasn’t been there to help me through the most important times in a teenage girl’s life. I graduated high school in May of 2014, and my mom wasn’t able to see it. I started college in August of 2014, and she missed that too.

It has had a huge impact on me, but I have come out on top of this situation. I took AP classes in high school, while also holding down a part-time job and participating in extracurricular school activities. My family has told me that they don’t know how I’m living with this, that they would break if they were put in my position. But in all reality, you can’t stop living when you have a life-changing experience. Life goes on, and someday it’s going to get better. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I accomplish a lot more that way.

~McKenzie Vaught

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