The other night, I, along with 10 other Listen to Your Mother bloggers, came out of the closet to share our stories about addiction in a live stream Google Hangout. Some of us had been addicts, others had lost family and friends to the disease. The thing that connects us the most, though, is our desire to help other families to be aware of the dangers of abuse. We hope that our transparency will encourage parents to talk to their children about medicine abuse, and educate them on how addiction can affect their entire lives in just one moment. Here is my story:
Addiction changes people. I mean, of course it changes the person with the habit, we all remember the commercial with the egg and frying pan, “this is your brain on drugs”, but it also transforms those that are affected by the addiction. Children of addicts, like me, it’s hard for us to be who we were once addiction enters our world and disrupts and distorts our relationships. Years of distrust, resentment, and feeling ashamed of being the daughter of addicts have led to me building a wall between my parents and my heart. The wall looks an awful lot like suspicion, and even though both of my parents are rehabilitated, I’m so afraid of their relapse and all of the hurt and sadness that comes with it, that I’m constantly on the lookout for signs of their old habits.
It didn’t used to be like that.
I used to laugh with my mother, and called her for advice and girl talk. Now, it’s hard for me to enjoy conversations with her because I’m straining as she talks to make sure I don’t hear signs of slurring. With my dad, trust is shadowed by fear. When we need someone to run to the store, and my dad volunteers, my stomach turns to knots at 21 minutes, 22 minutes, 23 minutes, wondering if he’ll be back that night, or if he’ll disappear for days like he used to do. When he finally returns, I’m looking in his eyes for traces of “up to no good”, and trying to make eye contact to make sure he’s all the way present with us.
As much as I want to stop, I can’t.
And, you know, it’s not fair to them. Both of them, my mother and my father, they deserve to get the benefit of the doubt. They’ve worked for it, they’ve pushed through the steel cage that addiction put them in, and they are both free. They’re different. They’ve changed.
And so have I.
I once took a training to learn how to work with children who had experienced trauma. We did an exercise once to learn how children change through difficult situations. We took a piece of paper that represented the child and crumbled it up. We stepped on it, tossed it around, and crumbled it up again. Finally, we opened the piece of paper up and attempted to smooth out the piece of paper again. For most of us, the paper was still whole, but those darn wrinkles just wouldn’t go away.
My wrinkles just won’t go away.
The wrinkle that was made on the night that I had to ask my mother to leave my house because she was drunk, and the one that developed after I gave birth to my daughter, her first grandchild, and she didn’t come to see me for a month because of her addiction…it’s still there. When my maternal grandmother passed away, and my father was unable to provide any sort of emotional support for me because drugs had started to take over his life…that wrinkle won’t go away. Nor will the one from my mother missing my paternal grandmother’s funeral.
After their addiction, and thanks to their recovery, my parents are changed. And I am, too. I’m more suspicious, and less trustful. I’m whole, and I still love them both, but I’m different. I’m hopeful, though. As they learned in various support groups, they just need to take it one day at a time.
And so do I.
Each day, I’ll work on smoothing away the shame, hurt and sadness of the past, and eventually, hopefully, the wrinkles will fade away.
Janelle Hanchett – http://www.renegademothering.com
Brandi Jeter – http://mamaknowsitall.com
Sherri Kuhn – http://oldtweener.com
Heather King – http://www.extraordinary-ordinary.net
Lyz Lenz – http://www.lyzlenz.com/
Judy Miller – http://judymmiller.com
Lisa Page Rosenberg – http://www.smacksy.com
Alexandra Rosas – http://www.gooddayregularpeople.com
Ellie Schoenberger – http://www.onecraftymother.com
Zakary Watson – http://www.raisingcolorado.com
Melisa Wells – http://suburbanscrawl.com