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Photo ofAvery Craft
When I was younger, like any young child, I looked up to my parents and, at the time, especially my mother. My dad and step mom were always there and I took them for granted because I longed for the mother-daughter relationship that I saw others had. Looking back, I feel regret for not noticing sooner that while I wanted a relationship with my mother, who wasn’t present, I had two amazing relationships with two very loving parents that I was missing out on. 
My biological mother and my dad got divorced when I was very young, and even before the divorce my mother abused drugs. She was involved with the wrong people and it completely changed her life. Her addiction was so bad that she continued to abuse during her pregnancy and when I caught her taking something, she said it was a prescription because she fell down the stairs. She got through her pregnancy and had my middle sister and a year later she had my youngest sister. She was always on something and because of that she became absent in taking care of not just me but my two baby sisters too. I stepped in: a kid taking care of two other kids. I did everything I could for them while my mother was hanging out with friends or just watching a movie a couple rooms away. I cared for them so much that when my dad got full custody, I was terrified of how they would survive without me. 
After my dad got custody of me, my mother took my sisters from their father and went to live with her boyfriend. When my sisters were with my mother and her boyfriend, they were subjected to abuse. It was heart-breaking for me to learn that what I was scared of happening, did happen. I was consumed with guilt because while everyone told me I could not have helped, I believed I could. I thought that if maybe I was still with them I could have been the one who was subjected to it. Maybe if I was there I would have been the one hurt and they wouldn’t know anything about abuse. If I could have protected them with everything in me, they would have been safe. After they told their dad, my sisters were taken away from my mother and they are now happy and healthy with their dad and step mom. I still struggle with the guilt and sadness, but for the most part, I understand that me being with them wouldn’t have done anything but make another person a victim.
In a court order to see me again, my mother had to go to rehab. The courts gave her multiple chances to do this. In the end, she didn’t even start the process, she chose the drugs over me. After realizing this, I decided I needed to stop dwelling on the past and move on. I got my grades up and focused on people and activities that would make me happy. I also started focusing on my relationships with the parents that were always there for me and always had my best interest at heart. 
This situation has made me realize that addiction is a serious problem that a bunch of people struggle with, but you can’t force someone to accept they have a problem and get help for it. They have to be in the mindset of wanting and needing rehabilitation. There is no right or wrong way to cope with a situation like this one. It’s normal to feel all sorts of emotions and no one should ever feel guilty about it. Anyone going through something similar deserves to find something that will help them move on and live for themselves. 

© Avery Craft. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.