Breaking the Cycle: Irma Cook’s Story

Others, Justice , Stories

Contributed by: Inner City Youth Alive

Hello, my name is Irma Cook, I am 29-years old from Lake St. Martin and a proud mother of three boys and pregnant with my fourth child (a baby girl). 

My mom is one of the women of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women as she was murdered in 1991. So I was then placed in foster care by CFS when I was six months old and my older brother, who was about one year old, was sent to another family. 

I was fortunate to grow up in the same foster home for 18 years. My older brother was adopted to another family and I never knew him growing up. It always felt like a piece was missing, I never really knew my biological family. After I grew out of the system my foster family disowned me. The pain of this experience led me into a path of hurt and anger being drowned out in drinking and drug addiction. I was so lost I tried to kill myself a few times. I became a deeply angry person. I never understood any of the reasons why I had to experience the feeling of loss, loneliness and despair my whole life.

My little boy saved me. When I gave birth to my son I knew I needed to change. I wanted to give him all the opportunities I never had. Although I still had my struggles and issues, I tried my best to be there for him. The innocence and beauty of my little boy gave me hope. Even as a little baby, he gave me courage to reach out and ask for help. He is still an amazing little boy and he teaches me so much. 

Then things took a turn for the worse when I met another guy. It all started out great. At the time I thought he would be a great dad and partner. But he changed and became manipulative. He got into my head and made me feel ashamed and worthless. I never felt good enough for him. This man abused me and my sons for four years before I finally ran away. My sons gave me the courage to break free from his abusive grasp.

After the relationship I carried with me a lot of pain. I didn’t know how to cope with the darkness I carried. I felt like I had a hole in me, and that drugs and alcohol would fill that gap. Addiction only brought further darkness and control over my life. Because of my addiction my kids were taken away from me. I was devastated as I said I would never be in a place where they’d have to take my kids from me.

The cycle repeats itself.

My first son is eight years old this year. From my issues and his tough circumstances he carries a lot of anger in him. Although he’s still a beautiful little boy who wants to save the world and learn everything he can. He had big dreams. Often he’ll tell me, “mom, one day I’ll take care of you.” 

My sons give me hope every day. My goal is to be strong for my kids so they don’t make the mistakes I’ve made in the past. Right now I’m learning to love and respect myself. I’m working hard to be the very best role model for my kids. 

It’s amazing to see these young boys grow up with goals and dreams. They’re inspiring me. I have hope that they’ll follow their dreams, and in that, help break the cycle.