as told to Kaitlyn Scoville
“My mom was an addict before I was even born. She did basically every drug — like heroin and crack. There would be glass plates with powder all over it, or I would see her bongs. When I was in sixth grade, we went on a trip to Disney World. She was in the bathroom, but the door was open. I walked in there and I saw her snorting a line on the toilet seat. Turns out, her husband at the time had mailed the drugs to our room. At that time I still didn’t really process that she was a drug addict because no one had ever taught me or told me about it. I always knew she was very different. She didn’t pay our power bill once, so our power went out. We couldn’t live in our house anymore. I was kind of house-hopping, I guess. I was 13 and that’s when I processed that she was a drug addict. I was living with my pastor when my aunt Jenna reached out to my mom and my mom said there was nothing wrong. Then a week later my mom called her again and was like, ‘Hey, can you take Makayla?’ And my aunt said, ‘Sure, when?’ My mom said, ‘Tomorrow.’ I moved in with her the next day. I was very closed off; it was a big change and it was hard for me to adjust to. I remember I was very sad and I felt lonely. I hated my mom; I wanted nothing to do with her. The thought of her made me cringe. When I moved in with Jenna, we would start to talk about it and sort our feelings out. Then I got into counseling and eventually I didn’t hate my mom. There’s been many situations where my mom has bothered me or I didn’t want to see her, and my aunt has always been good at communicating with me about it and saying, ‘If you want to see her, that’s OK.’ She’s going to support me no matter what my decision is. My aunt and I have become very normalized to dramatic situations with our family. I’m very open about my situation with my mom to my friends and the community. If anybody ever asks questions, I’m open to it. Everyone is very accepting and supportive of it. I’ve never met somebody who has been rude or negative. With my family history, I’m not concerned that I will fall down the same path that has happened with them because I know that I want better for my life. I’m the teen representative for the Winnebago County Drug and Alcohol Coalition. Another activity that I do is — my aunt started a group at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh called H.O.P.E. Group for kids who have been impacted but addiction, mental health, and incarceration. I’ve shared my story to them a couple times as well. I talk to the group about my family history and things that I’ve dealt with in the past. Something I would say to kids who are going through things that I’ve gone through is that it gets better. It’s not the end, and you’re not alone. A lot of people are dealing with it as well and you should reach out to someone you trust and talk to them about it. My mom calls me about once a week and I occasionally visit her. It varies; there’s no set time. I talk to her about everyday life, what I’m doing and what projects I’m working on, and she tells me about the program that she’s doing at the institution she’s at and how she’s getting better. My mom is supportive of everything that I do with my volunteering and schoolwork. She usually doesn’t have anything negative to say. I hope that in the future my mom stays on the right path and focuses on her recovery and herself, rather than backtracking and relapsing.”
Makayla is a sophomore in high school in Fond du Lac County. Her mother, Carly, was released from the Winnebago County Mental Health Institute in October 2019 and is working on building a relationship with Makayla. Makayla is the teen representative for the Winnebago County Drug and Alcohol Coalition and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and at her local church. For more FIXED stories, please visit www.uwosh.edu/fixed.