This particular blog I will dedicate to the ones that have been lost to addiction. This is a piece that I have wanted to write for some time, but wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to get my point across. I needed to process my feelings and thoughts, before I just blurted them out, and certainly before sending them out for the world to see. Especially when deep grief and self disappointment are involved .
I don’t know one person that hasn’t been touched by the atrocities of addiction. Whether, they themselves have been the addict, or have seen someone they love suffer with addiction, and in some cases lose the ones they love to addiction. Addiction is so prominent today, perhaps it always has been, but I feel like I read about another soul lost to this torment every week.
I lost my mother two years ago to addiction. Crack use to be specific. Only those closest to me have I chosen to let in on that “dirty little secret.” I just told the rest of the world it was a heart attack. I wasn’t even ready to accept that’s how I lost her, much less admit that to anyone else. I also felt for a long time that I would be disrespecting her if I told the truth about it, because she tried to hide her addiction for years, it was obvious, but nonetheless she tried. I felt in some way that it was important to her to hide it, so I should too, especially in her death. She was no longer here to speak for herself.
The pain of losing my mother was hard enough, not only was she my mother, but my last living relative from my immediate family. They were all gone. Losing her to an overdose was even more gut wrenching. Watching her gasp for air as her life just faded away, was indescribably painful. It still makes me cry. I didn’t want her to die alone though, so I stayed with her those last five hours of her life once they took her off of life support. How ironic that she would gasp on that pipe to escape life, but as her life faded she was gasping for air to retain it. Her bodies last futile attempt to survive. For those that don’t know, she was brain dead, she would have lived on a breathing tube and in a hospital bed for the rest of her life. I would never make someone simply “exist” like that.
It’s funny how when someone that you love dies, you miss all the beautiful things about them, and tend to bury all of the things that hurt you or made you disappointed in them. I missed the mom I had growing up, before my brother took his life. She was so supportive, fun, and you could talk to her about anything. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother growing up. I have so many fond memories with her. When my brother took his own life, a part of her died. That’s when the crack use started. She wanted to be in that grave with him. She never got over that. Does that hurt? Absolutely. Do I understand it? Absolutely.
I understand because I myself have suffered with addiction. Twelve years ago I checked into rehab and got sober and got my life together. I stopped using drugs and drinking. Eventually, I started to have drinks again on social occasions. Life was so good for so long. Then it was one tragedy after another (a list I won’t delve into for the sake of keeping this to the point), which like my mother, I wanted to escape. It got to the point that I was drinking almost every night. I just wanted to be numb, because the pain was too much. This, however, only temporarily removes the pain, and of course causes more pain and problems. I have good days and bad days with this. I am doing better than I have in a while, but it is a daily struggle with myself. I say this, because I do not want to be hypocritical while speaking of others addictions, without speaking of my own struggles with it. Addiction is real, and it has devastating consequences.
My husband’s brother lost his battle with heroin just 3 years ago. I’ll never forget walking into his parents home after the Bacchus parade and seeing him slumped over. I instantly knew that he was gone. My husband and father-in-law immediately stepped into action. My husband was doing CPR and his dad was delivering a dose of Narcan to his brother, but it was too late. I’ve never seen so much determination, sadness and anger in one person at one time as I did that night, watching my sweet husband try to save his brother. Steady pumping on his chest while crying and calling his name out. The pain was so incredibly visible and thick that night. The confusion and utter devastation that was written all over his parents hearts, broke my heart. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how they must have felt. It was so incredibly sad and surreal.
My daughters lost their father to his pain pill addiction at a young age. We divorced two years before he died. My youngest daughter doesn’t really remember him, but my oldest daughter does. She was nine when he passed. It devastated her. She has kept it bottled up for years. She doesn’t really talk about it, and never really has. She battles her own addictions now. She recently overdosed, but that still wasn’t enough for her to stop. I worry that I am going to get that phone call every single day. She is doing some time in prison right now, for a drug charge, and I am hoping that this might be “that thing” that helps her choose life. Ultimately though, it is up to the addict, to decide for themselves when they are ready to change.
I wasn’t ready to expose these things until now. I didn’t want to make the post about “Got the call two years ago about mom and the outlook wasn’t good…” Yada, yada, yada. I wanted to be real about what occurred that day. How she smoked too much crack, stopped breathing, lost consciousness, and then from the lack of oxygen went into cardiac arrest. That’s the cold, hard, real truth. This is happening everyday to people from every walk of life. Addiction is real, and should be talked about more openly, hopefully to help someone else. People are losing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses, children, and friends to it every day. Every. Single. Day.
In closing, I realize this may offend some, if so I’m sorry. Addiction is ugly. Not only is this something that needs to be discussed more openly, but something I have wanted to write about for a long time. There are lots of people that could care less about a “junkie”, but I guarantee you, behind every “junkie” lies a good person, and people that love them and care about them. They are just the lost ones……