wrote on November 16, 2016:
The 10th anniversary of one of the most devastating and life changing day of my life is tomorrow, and this year knowing it has been a decade is making me into someone else entirely.
This may come as a surprise to some people reading this, I really haven’t shared with many. I assume this is because I have a somewhat healthy and very happy relationship with my Mom. She is nutty, funny, has a heart of gold and would literally give her last dime to you if you needed it. She is understanding, she is fair, and she loves the people she loves with every fiber of her being. I love her and it is unconditional – which has been proven over the last 10 years. I don’t tell this story to be pitied or for anyone to say “I’m so sorry” to me. I have to tell it because I know, I just know that I can’t be the only one who has gone through this.
On my 16th birthday, my Mom overdosed on prescription pain pills mixed with alcohol, and almost died. Her lung collapsed while she was sitting on my couch after returning home from my “Sweet Sixteen” Birthday party. We couldn’t wake her up, and to this day I have no recollection of who called 911, but she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, and the next thing I know I was waking up on the couch in my living room.
The next few days were a blur. She was intubated & stayed in Critical Care for 4 days. I didn’t once tell her I loved her or was worried about her while she was there. I did my homework in the waiting room and wouldn’t look at her. I was icy numb. I remember hearing her crying out for me and I coldly walked away. Mad at her. Mad at my Father. Mad at my little brother for being weak and going in to hug her. Mad because it was MY birthday. It was MY day. Mad because some part of me always knew that something was off but she was going to work every day, it couldn’t be too bad right? Mad because I was wrong. Mad because all I wanted in my whole. entire. life was to just be normal. Why was that so much to ask?
I don’t remember talking to her for weeks after she came home. My Dad confirmed to me in private that it was drugs, and that if anything happened like this again she wouldn’t be living with us any longer. Where would she go? To live with Grandma. I knew he would never do that, but his threat was more than enough. He was heartbroken, a mess, and looked like he hadn’t slept in years. I was mad at him too. How could he let this happen? How did he not know what she was doing? How could I possibly trust him or anyone else for that matter? What the fuck was I supposed to be doing?
I just went, on. I just moved and went through the motions like a robot. We tried to make Thanksgiving I think. We were months behind on the mortgage and that winter we spent a lot of time boiling water on the stove to shower, and hanging out around our space heaters because we had to chose electricity over oil. The worst part was having 2 weeks off from school and having nowhere to escape to. No, I take that back, the worst part was feeling like my huge family, my 7 aunts and uncles on each side & their families, were completely oblivious. Like they had no idea what was going on in my smaller than average home. I’m sure some did, but no one said a word. The worst part was not being able to talk about it. The worst part was feeling like a freak, and like everyone else had a perfect life and for some reason I was cursed.
16 years old. I felt shame, embarrassment, scared, sad, confused, upset, lost…all on my own. I had panic attacks over things that shouldn’t matter. I was exhausted all the time from trying to maintain my composure and fake that everything was alright to my friends and in school. And then once things stabilized at home, and after we filed for bankruptcy (again, I was kept aware of our finances-probably not on purpose but it somewhat calmed my anxiety in a strange way), we just acted like nothing happened. We never closed the gap between the worst night of our lives and the day when things just were. I think back now and I don’t know if going about it any other way would have been helpful, but at the time I used to get frustrated regularly when we played the part of happy family because I did not feel happy.
Life went on. I moved out of the house and joined the military because we didn’t have money for me to go to college, a savings account was nonexsistent. And the thought of getting loans out and somehow being in the position to not come up with the money to pay them back terrified me after this whole situation. I had to go though, I saw the navy as a way to escape and be on my own. I just ended up missing it the entire time which seems crazy. But I did it. I have not lived in Massachusetts in 8 years and I still miss it everyday.
I wrote up an entire post just now detailing all of the things I had been witness to prior to this day, (people moving in and out of my childhood house, and many other situations involving drugs & the police), because this situation sadly wasn’t a complete shock to my system. I didn’t mean to make it seem like we were some cookie cutter family, though we did have dinner together every night, and we never kept soda in the house (like, what?). But those situations seem totally insignificant when I think about the relationships I no longer have with those people. They have not repaired themselves, their lives or their addictions. The relationship I do still have, and value and cherish is the one with my Mom.
Which is why I was hesitant to put this out there. Because the stigma and the lack of understanding people have for addiction causes them to become judgemental. Empathize, don’t pity. Support, don’t judge. My Mom’s whole story isn’t mine to tell, but after hearing what she went through in her adolescent years, things made a little more sense to me. Which is not to say it’s an excuse. People aren’t born to take up bad habits, and bad habits don’t make bad people.
I will say because of this I have so many thoughts in my head as to what I will and will not do as a parent. I never want my kids to worry about the bills in our house. Or if they can invite a friend over without having to worry about being embarrassed that we don’t have hot water or heat in the house. I never want them to consider not taking a shower because it was too difficult – if they don’t want to shower it should be because they’re too tired from having the funnest day ever. I want to give my kids everything and make every holiday the best one ever but at the same time make sure they aren’t spoiled. Where is the fine line on that one and how do you find it? I want to hide them from every bad thing but expose them to all the bad there is so they aren’t sheltered but also aren’t ruined. I DONT EVEN HAVE KIDS!
Today is a tough day for me. A lot of emotions have surfaced the last week or so that I didn’t realize I was burying. I filled out a sheet for work and started writing my home address as my parents house, and that’s how I knew I needed to write about this. Battling depression for however long is a rollercoaster – it is never perfect. Sometimes I’m not sure why I am feeling a certain way that is hard for me to understand and its this situation or another that has somehow found its way to rear its ugly head again. If any positive thing has come from what I went through at home it’s to never give up. On people, on life in general. I like to think I’ve become a more understanding and emotionally rounded person because of what I went through. But it didn’t come immediately. Therapy and maturity have surely helped shape me, and I wouldn’t trade my Mom for the world. We are able to talk about what we went through together, and we are very close. I am thankful for that because there was a time when I thought she wouldn’t be here to see me get married, graduate and all the other milestones you wish to share with your parents and those you love.
Be thankful for what you have and people in your life. Don’t take the little things for granted and don’t lose sight of what’s important.