WYSO

I've Always Wanted To Be A Mother: Starting Over After A Life On The Streets In Addiction

Oct 30, 2018

WYSO’s Recovery Stories series brings you intimate conversations from the heart of Dayton’s opioid epidemic.

In this story, we meet Susan Fitzpatrick and Rebecca Thayer, mother and daughter who describe themselves as best friends. Their voices even sound remarkably alike. 

Rebecca, who friends call Becky, is 35 years old and has nearly two years clean. Before entering recovery, her drug addiction led her to a life on the streets. 

This year has been one of firsts: Becky recently completed an intensive drug-court program and has a new job. She lives with her daughter's father and friend in her first-ever apartment, and she's looking forward to getting her drivers license this fall.

Becky also recently welcomed a new child into her life, with a baby girl named Ella. 

What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Thayer lost four of her children in her addiction. “I've lost them, but I had to forgive myself for what I've done for the cause of losing them to be happy with this child,” she says.
Credit Maddie McGarvey / WYSO

Thayer: Because the one thing I've always wanted was to be a mother. And I was told that when I'm not on drugs or alcohol that I am a wonderful mother but it's my addiction that gets in the way. Sophia, she's my oldest girl. I got pregnant with her right when my heroin addiction started off, which was in 2009. So, I still have so much guilt over Sophia. How can I be a mother to Ella when I couldn't be that to Sophia –– or to Cameron –– or to Alyssa?

Fitzpatrick: And I have a lot of guilt about losing Sophie too because I didn't come pick her up that night at the homeless shelter.

Thayer: It's not your fault, mom.

Fitzpatrick: But I just kept thinking to myself she's going to get her back, she's going to get her back, because that's what you kept telling me. And then I find out she's adopted for good. Why couldn't you tell me you weren't going to be able to do it? Why did you keep telling me you could do it? I would have taken her.

Thayer: I was scared. I was scared to admit that I was that I'd been defeated. You know, everybody would ask me, how are the kids doing? For years: they're with my mom. They're doing good. They're getting big.

Fitzpatrick: Aw, honey

Thayer: I didn't want to admit it, until recently when I got clean. Sophia, when I lost her, I lost it. Everything took off. I did the things I thought I would never do. I was an I.V. heroin and cocaine user. I stayed in abandoned houses, I’ve eaten out of dumpsters. I’ve caught many charges from stealing from stores to support my addiction. I would do whatever the dope boy, the person that was selling me the drugs, if I didn't have money, whatever he wanted me to do I would do it. I've sold myself on the streets. I've been raped, robbed, and then go right back out there and do it again just to get that next one. I felt like I didn't deserve any better, I wasn't worth anything more than a blowjob, a piece of ass, excuse my language, because I had such low self-esteem. I literally thought I would die in that life.

Mother and daughter Susan Fitzpatrick and Rebecca Thayer describe themselves as best friends. Their relationship went through a period of distance during the worst of Thayer's addiction.
Credit Maddie McGarvey / WYSO

Fitzpatrick: I was scared to death to get that phone call. You know every time I would see a 937-number, I'm like, oh my god, what is it? And I'm thankful you made it out alive because I really didn't think you would.

Thayer: Neither did I. But I caught a felony charge in Women's Therapeutic Court, a.k.a. drug court. And I was tired. I was so tired. I basically did six months of treatment and I was just so grateful, willing to do whatever it took. And now that I'm clean, eight years just –– poof –– are gone. And I'm able to have my relationship back with you and that means more to me than you can ever imagine.

Fitzpatrick: It does to me, too, honey.

Thayer: I missed you.

Fitzpatrick: I missed you too, honey. And I feel like you're stable now. Don't you feel stable?

Thayer: Yes I do. I have a roof over my daughter's head. I can provide for her. I can provide for myself. I'm not sleeping on other people's couches, I'm not having to get up early in the morning and go out during the day because I have nowhere to stay during the day. I feel normal. I’ve lost four of my children in my addiction. I've developed the bond with Ella and children's services is not taking this one. I just want to be the mother that she deserves. I want to go back to school, have a degree. I want her to be proud of me. Ella -- I can't wait to send her to her first day of school, to potty train her, little stuff like that. She's going to lose her first tooth. I'm so looking forward to it.

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This story is part of WYSO's Recovery Stories series. The series was produced by Jess Mador, with assistance from Community Voices producer Jocelyn Robinson.

Original photos by Maddie McGarvey. Additional project digital support from 100 Days in Appalachia.

More about Recovery Stories:

WYSO’s Recovery Stories series brings you conversations from the heart of Dayton’s opioid crisis: stories of loss, stories of love, stories of hope, resilience and recovery.

Ohio’s opioid epidemic has killed more than 10,000 people over the last three years, touching thousands of families across the Miami Valley. But numbers alone don’t begin to tell the whole story of the crisis. WYSO’s Recovery Stories series documents the reality of addiction and recovery in our community, with first-person stories from Daytonians personally affected by the epidemic.