Saturday, March 17, 2012
Addiction....an ugly cycle
Addiction...a word that has impacted our family for generations. A word that represents pain and many long months and years. I knew growing up that my grandfather was an alcholic but that was it. I didn't know much about my mom's childhood or how her father's alcholism affected her. Her family didn't talk about it at all. Then she married my dad. He joined the military after I was born. When I was five I remember him being stern but also loving. I remember looking up to him and wanting to be just like him. Fast forward 5 years, a war, and many unknown missions and alochol became a part of his daily life. He was a functioning alcoholic. He started with jack and coke and as the years progessed would drink jack on the rocks from the time he got home until he went to bed. But he was a quiet drinker except for when he got mad. Then you tried to disappear and disappear fast. Luckily/unluckily I was the only one he ever got into fist fights with. Fast forward twelve years and two more wars and his addiction with alcohol almost killed him, literally. I know that my dad suffers from PTSD. After the first war there wasn't the counseling and tools available that there are today. After the two wars he fought in more recently there was help. But it was bad...the things he saw...horrific most of which he's never shared. The few he did left me awake many nights. I can now seperate the man I knew as my dad and the man with the addiction. But it took years...many. It took more years of him out of my life then the ones he has been in. Looking back in 2000 when my parent's divorced my mom was a single mom with 6 children just as battered as she was. Abandoned, scared, and alone. My mom suffered from battered wives syndrome and shut down almost immediately. And I grew up fast. I left colloge and moved to the midwest to start fresh. I moved my mom and siblings out east by her best friends and a military base that could provide medical assistance etc. Unfortunately she couldn't take care of my siblings and we moved her here...and the cycle continued. My sister tried to take her life multiple times when she was in her late teens early twenties. She was introverted and the anxiety and depression was almost to much for her to bare. Thankfully we found W a wonderful counselor who has been in all of our lives for almost ten years. At the age of 13 my brother started experimenting with alcohol and weed. By the time he was 17 he dropped out of high school and became addicted to heroin and tried anything he could get his hands on. He left my moms and ended up in some house....I would see him on the sidewalks walking from time to time...black hallowed eyes and so skinny. I think it was almost nine months before he had his accident. He face caught on fire after trying to ignite a grill. It was a wake up call that changed his life...for a moment. He reconnected with my dad and ending up moving south to live with him. He enrolled in college, sobered up, and joined the national guard. He was injured while training and was given perceset...and got hooked. It wasn't until 8 months later we found out that he had an addiction to pain meds and was in a dark place. And one year later he has had six relapses and is trying to work a 12 step program. It's painful...so painful. Sister#3 and #4 both have eating disorders...and the later just got out of rehab two months ago. Her organs had begun to shut down and it was a sight that made you want to cry when you saw her. My youngest sister has remained quiet through all of this...she's tried to stay in the shadow and often feels scared if she speaks up she will rock the boat. My sister A and I are waiting and praying that she can make it. We invite her over for long weekends with our respective families and are so thankful we are married to men who are wonderful examples of what a father and husband should be. We are thankful that our husbands love our family..unconditionally. But it's hard and exhausting....it's exhausting sometimes looking at the calendar and counting the weeks wondering when the next shoe is going to drop. It's exhausting watching your family deal with these battles that are so dark and painful. It's exhausting not having the answers or being able to stop it. I remember being afraid growing up that I would marry someone just like my dad. Terrified that I would ruin my children's lives. Thankful..beyond thankful that God protected me and brought my husband into my life. It was hard...being with someone who lived a relatively sheltered life, introducing them to mine, and educating him on our past. But he stood by unafraid and willing to jump in with both feet and for that i'm grateful. I feel blessed that i've broken the cycle and am thankful for what my children have. They don't know what I missed growing up but I look at them and their relationship with their father and am beyond thankful. I'm thankful that their world is full of love and a family where addiction isn't the center. I'm thankful that they are sheltered from the world that I knew/know. I know as they get older there will be opportunities to educate them but until then I'm glad I'm not forced to do so right now. For now they can be kids and know that they are loved and protected.