Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Addiction can kill; addicts do die…..
Over the weekend another person died because of addiction. This person just happened to be famous but suffered all the same as someone on the street. Addictions aren't glamorous, although Hollywood would lead you to believe this. It is serious, so serious that is kills. It wrecks families, relationships and your soul. It turns you into someone you are not, someone you thought you would never be, someone no one recognizes.
I am not an addict but I am on the other side of addiction—I am the daughter of two addict parents. When my parents divorced one remarried an addict and the other did not. So, out of four parents I only had one who was truly and completely present in my childhood. My childhood was spent with parents who were always preoccupied and never emotionally availble. They were too busy to deal with me and when they did I was resentful and hell bent on making the day miserable for all of us. I wish I could tell the child me to enjoy these times, don't punish them because soon they would stop trying all together.
My mother was someone I adored. I thought she was brave, strong and independent. But I was looking through child eyes. Maybe she started that way, I'm not sure. The person she ended up is not the mom I saw back then. She had hopes and dreams and none of them were to become an addict. She lost herself and I lost my mother. As the years passed she moved further and further from whom she was.
I have two younger sisters and all three of us got a different side of our mother. I got to see all three. When I was younger I got the mom and dad that partied hard and fought even harder. When they split up I lived with my grandparents and life was what it was suppose to be. They were my saviors. They showered me with love, attention and affection. Then my mother married again. My life was in transition from my mom's, dad's and my grandparents' house. At my mom's house I was a little adult. I felt I had to take care of my mom, protect her. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized she needed protection from herself. When I was younger and my life was filled with addicts. I looked at my situation and life as a puzzle; I was constantly trying to put the pieces together and figure out what was really going on and if everything was ok. I felt so dedicated and responsible for my mom. That would leave me with a lot of disappointment but I always picked up what pieces I could and carried on trying to fix it. When my middle sister was born things mellowed out a little bit. My mom put effort into being a good mom. We did not have the "leave it to Beaver" type life but were getting close to the family on "Roseanne". She was present, attentive and cared. She would still go through spells where she would get a little wild but it would always calm down and return back to normal. It was normal to have your friends coming to the front door and drug deals at the back, right? Well, maybe not for everyone but for us it was. At lest they were stable and trying to be good parents, how we made money was the least of my worries. I would say things were good for several years and my youngest sister was born. Little did we know it would get bad, the worst it had been, fast. My youngest sister was around 4 when my mom and step dad started in again on the harder stuff and our life fell apart but this time it would not come back together. My mom and step dad split up shortly after that. Turns out, together they made one decent parent but apart they made two terrible ones. I was moved out at this point and watched from the sidelines as both my sisters lives fell apart. Our mother turned into a selfish teenager. She was no longer concerned with us or about us. Life for her was now all about her new husband and her addictions. That's the way it's been since.
Mom says she loves us—I believe her. She says wants to be our mother, that she is the one that gave birth to us, that she is our only mother. I realize all this but this still does not make it ok to use us, to abuse our relationship. I had to walk away. She was breaking me. She was breaking my heart and my soul. Her problems are not my problems. I cannot fix her, I cannot fix her problems, I cannot take care of her anymore.
The relationship with my father was different. He was in and out of jail for DUI's, not paying child support and so on, a lot when I was growing up. I spent many weekends and summers with him. But he wasn't always home. He was either working or out with his friends, no doubt getting into trouble. Both my parents seem to have had a hard time letting go of their teenage years. My step mom, or soul mom as I call her now, took care of me. I would beg to come over and she would tell me my father isn't there and I would tell her I didn't care. I just needed a break, a break from two addict parents at home. When I was with my soul mom I could be my age, I could be a little girl. I found it hard to let go and be my age but I loved the idea of it! My father and I weren't real close but we had a relationship. When I was in my late teens he started pulling away. He was using again. This time he went to prison for several years. I was the faithful visitor of course. Now he is out and doing well. I decided long before he was out that his decisions were his to make and if he traveled this road again, he would travel alone.
When someone famous dies from addiction it reminds me it truly is an illness. If it could be cured easily surely the famous would be cured. Instead they find themselves in the same boat as the average person, fighting to stay afloat. I know my mother is sick. She has been to treatment before. She has reasons to seek help and to follow through with it but she chooses not to. She instead chooses her addictions over her family, her children. These addictions are more important than a relationship with us. That is how it has been and that is how it will always be. You cannot help those who are not willing to help themselves. Or, in my mothers case, in complete denial of the problem all together.
My heart goes out to Amy Winehouse's parents. I know how it feels to watch someone you love do this to themselves and not be able to stop them. It hurts. You cry, you beg, you threaten but in the end it's their decision and you have to walk away to save yourself. It hurts when love isn’t enough. To those who said they didn’t do enough-you are idiots. This is real life not the movies or Reality TV. NO ONE can save an addict but the addict themselves.