When someone you love is in the throes of drug addiction, there is a cost. For Valena Claiborne, her mother’s drug use brought a high price. She lost her job, their home, and most of their possessions. But the even greater cost for Valena was the loss of trust, along with the anger and disappointment. Her anger wasn’t solely directed at her mother. She was angry at God, for giving her a mom like this.

In her early years, Valena was very close to her mother. Her parents divorced when she was 2, so Valena and her mom were tight-knit. They spent a lot of time with her mother’s extended family.  They valued time together, so every Sunday there was dinner after church. Every holiday meant a family picnic.

But when Valena was about 7 years old, things changed. Her mother began a relationship with a man who introduced her to drugs. That’s when her relationship with her mom began to change.  She describes it as her mom being slave to the world.

“She struggled with drug addiction, and that is what took my place in our relationship. Picture those family picnics, but now you walk into a room and you see a line of cocaine on plates on the table. Her addiction transformed from cocaine to heroin and that became normal for me.”

As her mother became more and more involved in drugs, Valena’s grandmother took over raising her. Her mother would disappear for days at a time.

“She would come around, and then she would say, ‘I’m going to run to the store and I’ll be back.’ And it would be three days later before she showed up again.”

Valena learned she couldn’t trust her mother’s words, and this began to put a wedge in their relationship. She built a wall and became very guarded.  She learned not to trust anyone.

Eventually, Valena’s mother lost her job, they lost their house, and most of her childhood items were put into storage and eventually lost. As Valena counted all of the costs of her mother’s drug addiction, she was angry.

“I began to recognize all the things that I lost, and I started to punish her for that. One day, she said she was leaving and would be right back. I told her if you leave, I’m going to throw all of your shoes away. She didn’t believe me, but when she didn’t come home, I threw them all away.  When she came home, she started to punish me, but my grandmother said, “Don’t you lay a hand on her.  You’re the one who’s been gone for days. Leave her alone.”

For the next 7 years, Valena’s mother’s addiction continued. She began stealing to support her habit, and eventually was sent to prison. Valena says it was the best thing that happened in their relationship. In prison, her mother reconnected with the Lord and after 18 months, she came home on house arrest. That began the process of rebuilding their relationship.

Rebuilding trust has taken a lot of time and effort. It was several years before Valena was able to see past her own anger, and realize God hadn’t abandoned her, but had protected her as a child.   That realization also opened the door for Valena to begin to forgive her mother.

Hear the incredible story of God’s restoration in Chapter 19 of Epic.

Valena Claiborne – A mom like this