**Disclosure: Part of this is written by my younger sister; while part of it is written by me.**
My sister is able to write part of this because she and her family are living it. Being one of the aunts, I can attest that it affects everyone in our family. We have always been a close knit family. We laugh together, we celebrate together, but we also cry together. This past few years there has been quite a few of these emotions. But I have to admit our hearts have ached for one of our family members more this past few years than I can ever remember.
We are not a perfect family. We know we aren’t exempt from ‘bad things happening to good people’, but in saying that I don’t think any of us thought this would be happening in ‘our’ family. Not because we are too perfect, but because it has always been someone else’s family. Someone else’s Dad, Mom, child and so on. But it IS happening in our family and it has changed us forever.
Two parents that had 3 kids. Three kids that married 3 wonderful spouses. Six couples that together have brought 8 children into the family. Eight “grandchildren” that range in ages 25-14. From those 8 grandchildren are now two more ‘spouses’, so 2 couples who have brought 4 ‘great grandchildren’ into the family. So our family totals 24 to date. But one is missing, she is away trying to get better, struggling to find herself. We not only miss her at family gatherings, we each miss her daily.
I remember her being born, which gave my daughter a cousin who was only eleven months younger than herself. Best friends for many years, she spent many weekends with us to stay with our daughter. Always silly, always loving, always unique in her ways. There are so many things I could share about her, and I don’t mean to sound like she is “gone” because she isn’t as a person. She is still in there somewhere, but what is yet to be seen is if we will ever get ‘her’ back. She has changed from what she has been going through; she isn’t the same in so many ways. But she is still the third youngest grandchild, my second to the youngest niece. I just miss ‘her’.
I want to go back before this ever happened. Before the girl, I once totally knew changed into a girl that now I only partially know. I want to fix it for her, to be that Aunt that ‘saves the day’, saves her from herself. The sister that can take away all of the heartaches that my sister and brother-in-law are having to go through. The daughter that takes away the aching heart that my parents face every day.
I want her to be able to fight for herself and realize she is worthy of love, of acceptance. I just want to turn back time to before this started and have a do-over. I know that isn’t possible and I know I have written so much at this point, but I just felt it was time to share.
You tend to keep these things to yourself, well the best you can in a small town who all seem to know what might be going on, but they don’t. They aren’t living our lives.
Many misconceptions of addiction (especially with a child/teen) are:
- “they must come from a bad family” -while sometimes that is true that isn’t the case in this instance.
- “if they kept a better eye on their child, this wouldn’t have happened”. -Not true. Unless you keep your child (teen) in a plastic bubble, things can happen. Especially if that child is able to be sneaky enough to keep things under wraps.
- “if they had done this, or if they had done that, this wouldn’t have happened.” -you can insert just about anything in those scenarios.
Usually by the time it is apparent that something is going on, it has went too far and then the struggle begins. The anger (on the teen/child’s side), the disbelief on the parents side as well as where do we go from here?
Written by my sister:
Silence, it seems like the best course of action. And I know why. No one will understand, everyone will judge, that is what is in the mind of an addict. The addicted person realizes they aren’t “the normal person”, so they “hide” from themselves and from those that surround them.
Addiction of anything will alter someone’s life, their well-being, it can ultimately affect their ability to live life successfully. It is sad, yet a reality to so many people. Addiction isn’t just one drug, it might be alcohol, prescription drugs, meth, marijuana, cough syrup or other over the counter medications, eating disorders, self-harm, undoubtedly the list could go on.
Addiction has a lot more to do with what’s going on in the mind of that person who is struggling with addiction, the drug is secondary. The drug becomes the coping mechanism for them.
Addiction does not discriminate, there are no qualifications to be an addict. Substance abuse has no boundaries, it can affect those most dear to our hearts. The only way I know to respond to this struggle is to Love, to fight, to pray, to seek out help, and to give more love.
There was never a day in my life that I thought this would happen. Yet, here we are. My prayer is that everyone could be aware it can happen to those that may least expect it. I hope that this will be shared in an attempt to help someone else, whether they are an addict themselves or a family of an addict. I am choosing to not be quiet about it because I am not embarrassed. I am choosing to talk about it because I am fighting for someone that means the world to me, to her dad, and to her family. Even the littlest (by size) miss her. Her 4 year-old niece talked to her on the phone a few nights ago and said “ah, when you come home, I’m gonna pick you an orange flower, cuz I know that’s your favorite color”. She ended the conversation with ” ah, I miss you. I love you to the sun and back”. I think she had all the words I did not……………………
In wrapping this up I ask for prayers, and if you do not pray please keep our family in your thoughts. We aren’t sure what the future brings, but we pray that it includes my niece. More healthy, more happiness and with family gatherings/celebrations that we will be 24 strong, if not more. Together as a family I know we can make it through this as long as it takes. I truly believe it is possible.
If my post has helped one person or one family it has done what I am hoping it would do. An addict needs a support system, even if they don’t want it. Reach out, love them even if you do not understand it. Be there for them; even when they don’t want you to be. Just be that soft place for them to land. They are worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I greatly appreciate it.
Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.