When Your Motherhood Dream Becomes a Nightmare
I have always loved kids and knew I wanted some of my own. My dream came true on January 24, 1986 when my first child was born. Jamie Lynn came into this world making a statement. My labor was not easy, and I was left with about 50 stitches after my insisting on “natural childbirth.”
It was clear pretty early on that Jamie was gifted. Yeah, I know, all moms say that about their kids. That is because ALL kids are gifted!
We had a list of words Jamie could say at nine months. By the time she was one year old, you could have a conversation with her. At the age of two, she was schooling us on certain concepts! It is no wonder, I was reading “The Strong Willed Child” when she was only one.
Jame was gifted in nearly every way. She was hilarious, artistic, fun, logical, quick-witted and athletic. Just two years later, Sean was born. He was the happiest baby; so sweet. He was my sunshine (30 years later, he still is). My motherhood dream had come true!
When Your Motherhood Dream Becomes a Nightmare
We all have hopes, dreams, and even expectations for our kids. I used to say for years when Jamie was young that she would be the first woman president. I KNEW she was going places. People loved Jamie. She was a natural leader and excelled at anything she decided to put her mind to doing. In fact, it would often frustrate Sean that everything came so easily to Jamie.
When Jamie was fifteen, suddenly everything went sideways. She met a guy that I would later refer to as “The Guy” in my book, “Still Standing After All the Tears.” I couldn’t bear to use his name.
For three years we tried everything we knew to get Jamie away from him. We knew The Guy was bad news and that Jamie was headed down a very wrong road. We tried. We failed. Three years later, I would be sitting in the ICU, waiting to see if my daughter would wake up after life-saving surgery from an abdominal gunshot wound, courtesy of The Guy.
My World Came Crashing Down
“Jamie’s been shot.” I was pretty sure the words came out of my mouth. It sounded like my voice. I felt my lips move. But, it didn’t seem possible. How could the “first woman president” by laying in the ICU on a ventilator and nearly 50 staples holding her gut back together? My dream had become a nightmare.
People like Jamie didn’t go to the place where she had been shot. People like her did not associate with drug dealers or gang members. Jamie came from a great home, in a safe neighborhood on the “right side of the tracks.” Nothing made sense anymore.
Little Did I Know, This Was Only the Beginning
We would spend the next decade finding out Jamie was addicted to Oxy, and then heroin. She would wear an ankle bracelet, spend time in jail, go to rehab, get kicked out of rehab, recant her testimony about the shooting, lie, steal, and go missing. She would break my heart a thousand times.
The future first-woman president was no longer available to run for office. Her check-fraud “issue” years ago left her registered on some sort of terrorist watch list. Based on where Jamie’s life was headed, it wouldn’t much matter that the presidential office was off the table.
I was devastated. After all – any parent worth being a parent would surely find a way to save their child. I couldn’t save mine, and she didn’t even seem to want saving most of the time. I couldn’t bear to think about the things she was doing to herself, or what she might be doing to pay for her addiction. My hopes for Jamie were fading. My heart was shattered. The world was upside down. I had failed miserably as a parent.
I didn’t recognize what was happening to me for quite some time. For the first few years, I just tried to make her stop her crazy behavior. I threw money at the problem. I screamed, yelled, begged, pleaded, and tried to bargain with with God. If Jamie would just get her act together, my life would go back to “normal.” Truthfully, I didn’t even know what that was anymore.
It wasn’t long before I knew I was in trouble. I had never been a depressed person, but I couldn’t seem to shake the black cloud that had settled over my heart. I thought about Jamie every waking hour. I could literally feel my broken heart. Everywhere I went, I felt different from everyone else. It was as if I was moving around in a bubble – in my own time and space. I pretended to live my life. In fact, I was smiling on the outside much of the time, but I was dying on the inside.
Every time I heard from a mom about how well her daughter was doing, my depression deepened. With every passing life event I witnessed for other moms, it became clearer that I might never experience these “normal” life events. I was a colossal failure as a mom…as a human being. I had been handed a life sentence. God must really hate me. Life was not fair.
“I don’t want to be here anymore. It’s too hard.”
There – I said it. The words came out of my mouth. They had been on my lips a hundred times, but I could hardly believe I had uttered those words. Neither could my husband, Rich.
Unfortunately, for parents of addicts, we are pretty much toxic waste to the rest of the world. Unless you have walked the road with a child who is addicted, you have no idea how lonely life becomes. Not everybody abandons you, but some will. Those that stay avoid the subject. I cannot say I blame them. Before it happened to me, I didn’t understand. I didn’t think it could happen to someone like me. It would NEVER have occured to me that it could happen to someone like Jamie. It didn’t happen to families like mine.
The sad fact is, that it can happen to anyone.
No matter how many people surrounded me, I always felt alone. Nobody understood. Not my family, or my friends. Not even my husband. I was the mom of an addict.
My Dream Was Now a Nightmare
The girl who played soccer on a broken foot for two weeks when she was eleven years old couldn’t handle detox. She seemed to embrace the new life she had sought out. Not only was I the mom of an addict, but the mom of a shooting victim.
There was no high school graduation, college, career, or marriage. There were no children, which was probably a good thing. The shooting left Jamie without one fallopian tube and one ovary. A saving grace.
Standing at a Crossroads
Probably the best thing that happened in the middle of the nightmare was my saying out loud, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” It was my rock bottom. It was a defining moment. It is what propelled me to make a decision to stand up and reclaim my life.
I don’t know that I would have ever taken my life. Thankfully, we will never know. But, I was standing at a crossroads that day. It was either more of the same, or I would stand up and fight – for even a little bit of happiness. I craved even a moment of peace.
I worked hard!! I learned to live again while Jamie was very lost in the belly of her Beast. I took the pressure for my happiness off of her. I loved her where she was, but I stayed out of the chaos and danger. I showed her what true courage looks like – I demonstrated that it was possible to stand in your darkest hours.
The Ultimate Loss
On August 28, 2016, Jamie was murdered. Once again, she was shot. We don’t know exactly what happened that night, or exactly why an unarmed girl was shot multiple times in the chest at close range. There may never be a trial since witnesses are scarce in the world my brilliant baby girl had entered. At the age of 30, Jamie spent one half of her life living in a world I will never understand.
What I know for sure is that she will never become president. But, I also know that nobody will every shoot her again. She will no longer stick needles in her body. There will never be another moment when she will have to choose between two worlds. She is at peace. She is with Jesus. She is home.
I am learning everyday to live with a hole in my heart. I am learning to be happier every day. By the grace of God, I live with a peace that surpasses my understanding, even as Jamie’s murder case slips into the cold-case files.
Underneath what Jamie became was that same little girl in diapers and pigtails, who would sit on her knees backwards in her rocker and whistle. She was still quick-witted, a great friend, and loved. She was still the girl who made my dreams come true.
A note to those who have not lived the nightmare:
My motherhood dream became a huge nightmare. One that can happen to anyone. If you know someone whose parenting dream became a nightmare, be kind. Try to understand. Be thankful you will never fully understand. Don’t add to the shame and guilt that is suffocating them. Don’t treat their situation like toxic waste. Love them. Be there for them. Try to understand why they are acting so crazy – it is their little boy or little girl, no matter how old they become. Encourage them to get help. They shouldn’t have to feel alone.
Remember, it could have happened to you.
Valerie Silveira is an award-winning author, empowerment coach, international speaker and Beast slayer. Through the devastation of losing her daughter over and over to the addiction Beast, and finally losing her to a senseless murder, Valerie empowers others to stand up and fight for their lives. She is the creator of Nine Actions to Battle Your Beast and the Still Standing Sisterhood membership program. Valerie uses her books and Sisterhood to guide women in their quest for happiness, peace, and purpose. She builds up women of courage who stand strong against any Beast in their lives.
Until her death in August 2016, Valerie chose to call her daughter Jamie, “Jordan.”
Ladies, if you are ready to Stand, to be inspired and empowered: get a Nine Actions Empowerment Program. Stand Up & Fight.