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16 October 2014

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Anita Walters: Our Children

Our Children

By Anita Walters
January 2004, Penywaun
A digital story from Capture Wales

Living with substance misuse

Anita tells us how substance misuse has affected her family.

Our children are just like your children. They all have their secrets. As parents we all want to believe our children, because we don't always understand them.

Soon we came to understand - our son was carrying a dark secret. We asked ourselves: What did we do wrong? What should we have done different?

As news filtered out, I knew that people were talking about us - raising their eyebrows and judging us. We blamed ourselves, and the neighbours joined in the condemnation. We knew that every video, every car radio, everything was blamed on him. Sometimes they were right.

It's the drugs that change our children. We think we know them. They look like our children, but they become someone else.

We hear that all young people are at risk, but you never believe it of yours. At first you think you can be strong, but soon you become desperate. The pain... The anger. We even hand them over to the police in desperation.

We hide our purses. We put locks on doors where once they were always open. We dread the telephone ringing, the late night knock on the door. The fear, the ultimate fear - wondering if tonight is the last night we will see our son alive.

As parents, we couldn't talk about the problem. Not with our friends and not with our family. Too much shame, and so afraid of the stigma that surrounds drugs in our valleys.

Our other children felt left out and neglected. It was hard for them to understand why all my attention and time revolved around their brother.

People ask, "How do you cope?" I have to, or it will break my family apart. We've got to go on; you just can't give up and turn your back. We love our children, we can't switch off that love just according to how good or bad they are.

Anita Walters

Please tell us about yourself Anita.
I'm a mother who has lived with substance misuse for many years. I recently set up a community project for families to get help and support.

What's your story about?
My story is about what families like mine deal with and the effect it has on our families. I told this story, because it's the only story I have. This is the life I have lived. I hope the story will show my feelings, which is similar to many other parents in the south-Wales valleys.

How did you find the workshop experience?
It was a marvellous, rewarding experience. I can say that I really know how films are made and also the people we worked with made us feel so comfortable and at ease.

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