Once upon a time I was a girl who kept too many secrets. I swallowed them down like bad, bitter medicine, one hard gulp per bad decision, theirs or mine. I thought I was fierce and that only I could handle what I knew, or THOUGHT I knew, about myself. In my mind, I was saving my family and those around me. But, those secrets weren’t medicine, they were poison, and it was slowly destroying the good that was left in me. Since I’ve been living a life of truth and sobriety, I’ve been spitting out that poison, little by little.
What was destroyed has been steadily healing, through my faith in God and in myself, the person he made me to be. Whatever your higher power, find some super sized strength there…
I am more lucid than I’ve ever been in my life. I can’t say it’s always been a blast being “present” . Sometimes it’s pretty damn uncomfortable, especially as I look back and think, hindset really is TOO 20/20 at times .
Ive learned so much in the last year One of the biggest truths I accepted is that addiction isn’t JUST an individual or family disease, it’s also a societal disease. It affects everyone who loves you and everyone around you. The addicted aren’t victims, only in as much as we see ourselves as victims . Loved one’s and community are just as impacted, if not more, as they cannot numb or quiet those worst fears and they have the least amount of control. Powerless to save as you watch a person you love more than yourself, destroy themselves and others, what could be more agonizing?
It wasn’t until my daughter quickly and unexpectedly took a serious nose dive with her own addiction as I sat in jail, that I began to understand the panic and desperate terror of watching a child you would die for, kill themselves. For the first time in her life, there wasn’t one thing I could do for her. I didn’t get the opportunity to try to save my child. She went from never using to rapidly descending into a state of reckless despair and then suddenly … she was gone. It felt so cruel. I looked at other girls her age who had been hard-core addicted for years and asked God, “why not them???!!! These girls steal, lie and don’t give a damn who they destroy!!!!” It may sound awful to you that I thought that way but it wouldn’t if you were in my shoes, knowing what I knew then and thinking as I thought then. I mean seriously, why not ME? I took near 80 pills to end my life?! My daughter was still relatively innocent. She danced for about 2 weeks at a local “upscale” (ha) strip lounge while I was in jail and she couldn’t hack the creepy clientele. Trust me, I was SO relieved at the time. But, begged the question, for how long would she be that girl I knew? I have often said that if I let my mind go to dark places, I think about the jail I was in and the revolving door of women there for prostitution, larceny and other charges related to addiction. I saw 20 year old girls who looked older than I did. I heard the monotonously told stories of gangbangs and subconscious encounters. Though admittedly it wasn’t a world unfamiliar to ME, it was NOT a life my daughter had known… YET. I couldn’t help but imagine, if she had lived, could I have tolerated knowing my daughter was being hurt repeatedly and as her mother, I could do nothing? What would it have been like to feel that anxiety and fear as I did that last time I spoke to her 2 days before she died, over and over and over throughout the years? Post traumatic stress disorder on steroids is what it would feel like, it would feel like walking through hell. I would’ve gone nuts.
Once sober, I still thought at times that loved ones of others I often observed seemed insensitive with their “tough love” , UNTIL I struggled in a relationship with an active addict. Holding my breathe as they would lie, steal, sneak, promise, break promises, attack and apologize and I would get my hopes up and take a breathe of relief only to have them repeat the same pattern as if on auto pilot. Exasperated as I consistently stressed, never trusted, emotionally battered, my head sounding like a city full of sirens going off, a state of perpetual chaos.
It was then it finally resonated. As I’m walking around weary and trying to heal from my own profound grief of losing a child, I got it. When I finally got it, my heart opened, my regret deepened and my sense of personal responsibility kicked in overdrive. I wanted to just say to loved ones everywhere, I am SO sorry. I felt real empathy for and comradery with other mothers and family members affected by their loved ones addiction, for the first time.
Although a few mothers still judged me and thought we weren’t the same, I understood. However, I’m not carrying that anymore because, oh yes, I’m afraid we are very much the same . For a long time I didn’t feel worthy of grieving, always a brave, responsible face. But, as I’ve let down my walls and remained accountable for my weakness and failings, other mothers have supported me and me them and it’s been exactly what I needed. After all, the feeling we share is the worst and it’s the same. I breathed for my children, they were my only family and my life. I was super career mom, earning over 6 figures and gave them anything they wanted. I never, ever thought I could be THAT woman, and then I was … It doesn’t mean my ache is any less and now that I have accepted and given love for others suffering the same unfortunate experience, I am finding refuge.
I want you to know, my heart aches for you as I assure you this one thing as a recovering addict … It’s NOT your fault. Your loved one’s s addiction isn’t caused by something you did or didn’t do. Forget the over thinking and work to help solve the problem while you have a chance, and that starts (in my opinion), by getting them safe, even if against their wishes.