NEW BOOK Excerpt: HOME IS WITHIN YOU by Nadia Davis
Years of hard work brought prestigious titles, awards, and accolades and I ended up in the arms of the most powerful man in the State of California. But none of that erased the fact that I was struggling deep inside. I was so ill-prepared for all that would happen in my life next.
Tragedy after tragedy hit and out of the blue, death and trauma reared their ugly heads, and I never could seem to catch up. Perfect fodder for a sociopath and highly addictive drug, I fell into a swamp of terror and saw absolutely no way out.
Worse, the press marred the truth and turned my agony into a scandal. The system denied justice and the hell only continued. Shame consumed my entire being and I nearly let it kill me too. All connection back to the truth within was stuffed down deep and forgotten. Once the “up-and-comer,” my life became treatment, jail, and hospitalizations. Bumps and falls, hopes and gains, the road to recovery was filled with challenges.
Dear Son, I could blame a few of my diseases on genes alone. I got ’em. And I got ’em bad. A line of depressed self-medicating drinkers on both sides of the family surely sent a blueprint our way. Still, there is nothing to be afraid of. Knowing this is power. Mental health and substance abuse are complicated to understand and even harder to navigate. Worse, admitting them is difficult in a shame-making world. It is letting shame rule that you should fear, not the “diseases,” dear Son. It is through sharing my personal process of recovery that you might receive a fair view into them, and more importantly, an ounce of hope and wisdom to help yourself or another human being should they ever occur. So herein, I share a heck of a lot. Like a lot a lot. It may be too much. It may not be enough. It may be embarrassing, disturbing, and cause moments when you feel distraught. Please breathe as you go and know my intentions were good. And, most of all, promise me you’ll read it to the end. Love, Mom
Since the day of my release from Santa Ana jail, when the seven-year journey began, my head said, “Go alone and get it done quickly.” Just get “better,” be “ok,” and “fix” it. But that’s not how recovery from trauma, addiction, and chronic pain is possible.
Self-sufficiency worked well during my pregnancy with the twins and their first year. My commitment to them and the pure joy of new life obliterated cravings, reduced flashbacks, and minimized body aches. All three were kept at bay for a period of time.
Life on the outside evolved, but I was still the same Nadia inside.
While fear, shame, and resentment were always lurking, what began happening was far beyond that. Psychological warfare and physical pain slowly returned to levels I could not handle. I began to feel “off” more and more frequently.
I failed to reach out to anyone or ask for help when I was feeling this way. I hadn’t yet built real, honest, and consistent relationships with a therapist, sponsor, and fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous.
This is dangerous territory for someone like me who often didn’t even recognize when I was “off.” I was flying on solo grit, straight into a full-blown crisis and crash landing in the embankment.
Dear Son, I want to describe the next years in a clear orderly way. I want it to flow with ease in a step-by-step play. But it’s impossible to make sense of all the mistakes I made. And even harder to accept the wreckage and pain I caused you. All I can tell you is no amount of self-will worked. After every “failure,” shouts from the universe came. “When the hell are you going to grab a helping hand?” “When will you finally surrender to a higher power within?” After every trip and fall, a different block was lifted. I am so sorry it took so long for me to finally walk together. Love, Mommy
All along there you were, dear Son, waiting for Mommy to get better. To say I am sorry will never be enough. All I can do is strive to give you a healthier parent and the things I have learned today.
You’d think I’d get better once the system got involved. You’d think I’d dive deeper into the real issues inside. Tragically, the system’s messages implore mothers to “Just be ‘ok’ and act ‘normal,’ dear,” and, “Don’t cry or flinch, else you be deemed unstable, unhealthy, unfit, and unworthy.”
While every future relapse brought me closer to the underlying truth inside, every single one of them was a direct result of never being able to drop into the space of vulnerability in the middle. I had to go alone and quicker and be “ok” for the system in order to prevent further separation from my children.
The system punishes vulnerability. It rebukes diving deep into one’s psyche for wisdom. It shuns brutal honesty and forces ignorance of the underlying truth.
No judge or social worker wants to hear, “I’m in a depth of emotional, mental, and physical pain and need a way out. Please help me stop my mind from convincing me a drink is the only relief out there.” They’d simply say, “Lock her up and take her children away!” adding to the factory line of generational trauma, addiction, and shame.
If you really want an answer to the question, “Why does she/he do that?” then ask that person! Allow them to be vulnerable. Allow the truth to come out.
But can you handle it? Probably not. Why? Because then you’d have to admit that those causing hurt to others need to be permitted the space, time, and place where they can be vulnerable and heal without fear of their children being taken away and of the system’s judgment and shaming.
Don’t tell me it isn’t possible. It can be done. Then and only then can the cycle stop.
I’m sick and tired of the system banishing vulnerability.
When will they give a mother and her children the opportunity to get, stay, and remain somewhere safely together and supported for as long as needed?
When will judges and social workers say, “I see you. I hear you. We’re sorry we keep banging your head against the wall. Here’s the support and help you need to get out of hell. Go with your children and you won’t go to jail. And by the way, the man that hurt you is being punished instead.” Why not provide daily coaching, counseling, a mentor for both child and parent? Daily workshops where sobriety is the requirement?
I know it’s insane to think this could happen.
But we can’t sentence mental illness and think that will cure it.
If this sounds like pure blame, well, I include myself in it. I am pissed off at myself for all the unhealthy choices. I am pissed off that my children had to carry the toll. I am pissed off it took so long to find space to heal.
I “failed” the system time and time again. I admit it. But something about saying that doesn’t feel right too. Something about it ignores the underlying truth. The important space between stimuli and response.
Whether it was the doctor’s reckless actions ignored, carrying the pain of losing those I love alone, the shattering of my body by a big rig, the bad guy never prosecuted, the press’s shaming, and more, I responded to each with “unhealthy” choices.
But what happened in the middle? What happened in my head, heart, and psyche? For many like me, it’s called all-consuming feelings of shame, fear, and resentment. What can be done to give those less power? Being able to discover a home within us that keeps those mind-made emotions in check. But we can’t get there unless we are allowed the journey. We can’t force people to act “ok,” to be stamped “ok” to be with loved ones.
It forces going alone and quicker. It doesn’t work.
We have to go together through the middle so we can go further in the end.
Dear Son, Please know whenever you are in pain, I am here to hold space for you to be vulnerable, acknowledge your truth, and find freedom through it. The wisdom is in the middle. You don’t have to go alone, quicker, and act “ok” if you’re not. Please go together, dear Son, so you can go further and wholeheartedly in your truth. Love, Mom
Nadia Davis is a mom, attorney, victim’s rights advocate, kundalini yoga instructor, and author of Home is Within You: A Memoir of Recovery and Redemption (Girl Friday Books, Spring 2023). She is a survivor of trauma and abuse, a near fatal car accident, addiction, and public shaming. Nadia has a lifetime record of passionate work and dedication improving the lives of others. She is most well known as the attorney who fought tirelessly to free Arthur Carmona, an innocent victim wrongfully accused and jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. Her life now is dedicated to ending the judgement and shame that holds back so many victims from healing and improving their lives. Nadia has a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and JD from Loyola Law School. Find her at www.nadia-davis.com.