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When I decided to share about my mom, I honestly thought that I would be able to break it down into about 5-7 blog posts.  I was obviously wrong and it will take me longer to tell this story.  If you are reading this and waiting for the connection with food and when I started to turn to it, it is coming.  But there is SO very much I have to share and it all ties together for me.  Please be patient.  If you are reading this just because you know me and want to know more, well, no worries, you are going to get it all.  Thank you to everyone for reading.

I had every intention of finishing up last Friday and writing again on Monday.  I love to write.  I love it with all of my heart…but writing about this stuff is hard to do.  I don’t dwell on everything I have seen in my life and honestly, I very rarely think of the bad stuff because really, who wants to think about stuff like that?  I would rather remember my mom for all the good things she did in her life.

So I went back to write, and I just couldn’t.  It is emotionally draining for me to go back to that place and when I write about it, I have to go there.  So I took a break.  But now I am back.

I believe I mentioned that while I had a sprinkle of odd memories (finding my mom in the laundry room passed out) during my young childhood, it wasn’t until junior high and high school that I started to figure out something was not quite right.

Up until high school, I would consider everything pretty much happy in my life.  I grew up with great kids through school, I loved attending St. Mary’s, I was actively involved in sports and dance, and I felt safe.  I felt happy.  I felt secure.

Lots of changes happen when you transition to a high school, of course.  But if you attended a public elementary and junior high, chances are you will know people when you move to high school.  My tiny little Catholic school probably had less than 25 kids in our graduating class, and a few of us went on to the same high school together, but with the exception of those few girls, I, of course did not know anyone.

This isn’t usually a problem for anyone—it’s just the nature of high school.  You meet new friends, find new social circles—its all part of life.

Which might have been just fine if I wasn’t dealing with stuff at home that I didn’t want ANYONE to know about.  Even my best friend from elementary school—someone that I had known my entire life—I did not want her to know.

My protective bubble was gone and for a period of time, so was I.

If you know me now, you know that I am a pretty social person.  I love getting to know new people, I love making new friends, and I love being a good friend.  I love the people that are in my life and I love having these connections with everyone.  I know it sounds totally “Pollyanna-ish”, but really, I enjoy life.  I am a total extrovert (though not pushy) and I enjoy socialization.  It is a part of who I am.

This was not who I was in high school.  In high school, I recall being quiet, withdrawn, and just not that into anything.  I felt out of place and I was terrified that people would find out my secret.  I quit playing sports (which I loved) and I quit dance classes (which I was not so great at, but enjoyed) and I just…pulled away.

How could I invite someone over to my house if I wasn’t sure if my parents were going to be arguing?  Or if my mom was high or drunk? Or if my dad had even been drinking and they got into a fight?  How do you welcome someone into your life when you yourself are unsure of what you will be walking into on a DAILY basis?  My answer?

You DON’T.

Instead, you survive, in the only way that I knew how at that point in time.  I pushed people away.  A few, (very few) people knew what was going on and I was simply afraid and embarrassed to let anyone else know.  I may be confident and independent now, but I simply was not back then.  I wanted to be anything but different.

It hurts my heart now to admit how much I withdrew from people because it simply isn’t who I am.

Sharing everything and pretty much bearing my soul—I have already said that it is terrifying.  This is one of the scariest things I have ever done.  But there has been one part of my story I have contemplated not putting in at all.  It is something that I regret ever doing, but that is how low I felt at that time in my life.

I would rather not go into specific details.  But when I say I have been in that darkest place—the darkest place that one can go to?  I have.

My mom never knew this.

My brother never knew this.

My dad never knew this.

My grandmother never knew this.

It is a secret that I have shared with very, very few.

I share this for HOPE.  There is always HOPE.

I have BEEN to that dark place and people CAN and DO come back from it.

Had I been successful, I wouldn’t be able to write this for you.

There would have been no Sam.  No Sabrina.  To simply write those words brings tears to my eyes.

Thank goodness for second chances.  Which is why I always give them.

Sabrina Sue and Samuel Nickolas.

Sabrina Sue and Samuel Nickolas.



  1. Holly OBrien says:

    Rachel, You are so courageous. I hope you can continue your courageous attitude and lifestyle forever.

  2. As someone who has known you since we were 5 years old I can honestly say the transition you have gone through over the last 2 years has been one of the most inspiring and amazing things I have ever been able to witness. I remember when you were shy and withdrawn. I never knew why. But we all have skeletons, right? It breaks my heart to know you were going through so much with very few people to help get you through it. But I also know how awesome you are and the things you have accomplished blow me away. I am lucky to still have you in my life and proud to call you my friend. You keep on keeping on! You truly are an amazing person, a fantastic role model and clearly an awesome mom.

  3. You are an inspiration! To those of us who have lived through something like you have, we understand how low one can get, and what one might think of while in that space. Welcoming light into all of our dark places, is really the only way we can break free from that past and what it represents. You are doing great, and I always look forward to reading your posts, and hearing your heart in between the lines.

  4. Great job. Keep it coming. Xoxo

  5. *hugs* I really hope more people see this, and believe in the fact that there IS hope.

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