I’m reading a book about addiction that Max read last year. He told me I might like it. I also remember him writing to his girlfriend that the book caused him to review his childhood, which he always thought was “pretty normal.”
The book, by Gabor Maté, a physician and psychiatrist, is extremely compassionate toward the addict. In fact, he explains at great length why the addict never really had a chance: Improper bonding during infancy harms the infant’s brain and sets him up for addiction.
Maté recounts study after study to underscore his thesis. When rats are removed from their mother for only one hour a day, their brains show damage. In human babies, this faulty bonding fucks everything up. The child is forever doomed to suffering and attempts to extinguish the suffering.
I can’t read too much of this book. Someone needs to do a study on my brain, to show how much harm the book has done.
Maté ends the long chapter about the origins of the addict’s malformed brain by assuring us that he’s not saying it’s hopeless! People can be healed, he says, through the indomitable Spirit that lives within all of us.
Meanwhile, I am compelled to look back in time and question everything. I remember loving my baby at first sight. I remember adoring his every expression, every gesture, every hair on his head. I remember nursing him for 14 months. I remember friends coming over just to admire him. I remember dressing him in his little outfits, reading to him, cuddling him, singing to him.
But I was a depressed mother. Depressed mothers ruin the brain as well. I forgot to say that. The baby picks up on the mother’s depression and is irreparably fucked.
I wish I could talk to Max about this. I want to know if he blames me. Or rather, if he forgives me.
His addiction must have been a nightmare for him. So much worse then the nightmare it was for us. It was such a long struggle. I never really felt it was my fault, until now.
My own mother hated me and told me so, but I didn’t want to become a drug addict. There was no comfort anywhere, from anyone, when I was a child. I have my problems but I never wanted to stick a needle in my arm. If everyone with an imperfect or depressed mother needs to escape their pain through opiates, who’s left?
I’m caught in this argument. Depressed people don’t all become addicts. But my son did, and it’s my fault.
I wish it was nobody’s fault. I wish it was a wrong turn that led to more wrong turns. I wish he had been able to overcome his addiction and the pain that caused it. I wish I could comfort him and convince him that he was loved and he was perfect, addicted or not.
Mothers and children, what are your thoughts?