About Me

My photo

Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The neighbors are talking...

First off, to those of you who wrote and sent condolences to Carrot – It was NOT her son who died. However, she appreciates all your encouraging thoughts and prayers.

“What you think of me is none of my business.” As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you that I never had time to think much about what the neighbors were thinking. I felt that people who spent time gossiping about me or my family had way too much time on their hands.

When my son, Brian, died an alcohol-related death, it took me years to be able to say out loud that he was an alcoholic. I also could not vocalize his name. I would say it over and over in my head, but I didn’t want to hear his name come out of my mouth. When my grandson was born and was named after his uncle, I could only say “Baby Brian” but never just “Brian”. My grandson is six years old and he still lives with “Baby Brian.”

A senseless death via drugs or alcohol is even more heart-wrenching because it is just plain stupid. No matter how my child died I would be angry, but the anger is multiplied hundred-fold when it’s something that didn’t need to happen. I taught my son better than to abuse alcohol. I educated and scolded him. He knew he could come to me for help. And yet – I was the last one to be called and I was called too late.

Of course, I bear the weight of guilt upon my shoulders, just like any other parent would do in my circumstances. I know I should have done more, listened harder, screamed louder.  The fact is no matter how much more of anything… he would still be dead today. He made his own choices whether I liked it or not.

Our children only let us into their world so far and often we never really know what is going on when Mommy and Daddy are not looking. It would be great if we could put them in a bubble and keep them there until we pass on. Another idea is to drill a hole in the top of their head and pour in the information they need for survival in this ugly world.

In today’s society, attitudes have changed. It’s almost a certainty that youngsters will experiment with drugs. We can only hope that the experimentation will not lead to addiction. The street drugs have changed. You can’t trust the quality of your dealer’s merchandise. Accessibility has changed. Drugs are everywhere, every street corner, school yard and friend has something to offer. Peer pressure is more intense. We raise our children to have confidence in themselves to make the right decisions and sometimes they feel invincible. That feeling of invincibility can get them into trouble that ends in the loss of their life.

Anger – I can remember the anger. I looked for scapegoats everywhere and I found as many as I wanted or needed. I lost a few friends, but the ones that mattered the most simply waited for me to start listening again. But I hated no one more than myself.

I wanted silence. I wanted no acknowledgement of this horrible event in my life. I wanted no consolation. I wanted to be left alone with the emptiness in my heart. I wanted to die. And the thoughts of finding that quiet, peaceful place where no one could touch me formulated in my head. I didn’t care that I had another child or a grandchild. I didn’t care who needed me or loved me. I wanted to go into the mountains, under the trees, close to a babbling creek and just drift off to no where. But my Christian belief that I would not go to that peaceful place if I did myself in, kept me from completing the action. I could find no person who would assist me in accomplishing the task.

The neighbors were talking. My co-workers were talking. My family was talking. But, I didn’t care what they were saying about me. I sunk more into my self-made hell. I stopped wearing make-up and didn’t bother to get dressed in the morning. Eventually, I stopped leaving the house. I went weeks without leaving my bedroom.

Then --- that one special friend did the unthinkable. She dragged me into the shower, got me dressed and took me to lunch after doing some grocery shopping. She stayed with me and got me up in the morning and took me to the office. She saved my life.

I resumed going through the schedule of what my life had been. I worked. I played. I joked. I slowly began living again. Eventually it became second nature to just keep putting one step in front of the other.

My son was an alcoholic. I can say it now -- out loud. That doesn't make me love him any less. Addicts of any sort are still people who have others who love them. There should be no other stigma about addiction except that it is a horrible, life-sucking demon ruining the very fabric of our society. No one is immune. 

I’m often asked to help parents when a child dies of some addiction or another. But the truth is, I can’t. I can’t help any parent go through this painful process. They must find their own way. I can’t walk their steps for them or advise them of the path to walk. I can only say “I understand.” Nothing more will come out of my mouth.

To this day, I don’t care what the neighbors think and I’m still simply putting one foot in front of the other. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless your friend, Linda. I'm glad for you she was there to help pull you from the pit of despair. Please, if you see her, give her a huge hug from me. We all need a friend like that, and it's a gift from God when you have one. Consider yourself blessed. I do for having found you.

You have given me hope and answers that I couldn't find anywhere else. You brought me back from the brink of my pit, and you give me courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other every day. Thank you.

With love,
A friend in Michigan