A young mother in residential treatment uses her words to share her story with her 3-year-old son
I am Michelle O., a 23-year-old recovering alcoholic, and mother of a three-year-old little boy named Cooper. During my time in residential, my counselor gave me one last treatment assignment: He asked me to write a book explaining my addiction in a way that my son would understand.
Although this seemed intimidating at first, as I began to write I recognized more ways that I could personalize the story in a way that would be familiar to my son. I found ways to incorporate what I had learned about addiction in treatment, and relate it to real life experiences my son has had.
This past summer Cooper had opened our family candy jar and placed a handful of M&Ms on the dining room table. Our dog, Toby, quickly gobbled them up and a few hours later Toby was violently ill. Copper felt so sad and helpless wanting to make Toby feel better.
This was the experience that inspired my story, a book for children to understand addiction. Cooper has been my biggest motivation for sobriety and I feel so lucky to have him in my life and get to share my story with him. My child r e n ’ s book is called Sweet Serenity: One Dog’s Journey to Accepting Help. The main character is named after the amazing therapy dog at the treatment center, Willow.
In Sweet Serenity, Willow’s mom has an addiction to chocolate even though she knows chocolate isn’t good for her. My friend on the unit, Julia W., collaborated with me and offered to illustrate the book.
My wish is that my son Cooper can relate Willow’s story to his own experience and better understand his mother’s journey of recovery. I hope to publish this book someday so it can help more families and children understand recovery and addiction.