*This was suppose to post on 8/9/2017. I had a few unexpected things happen and then a small kitchen fire. All is well(!) and I didn’t get to read over this and do a final edit. Ya know, life and stuff.
Yesterday, I wrote about my dad passing and his addiction being alcohol, but I didn’t plan to write about death again today. However, reading this article on NPR this morning really stayed with me throughout the day.
My heart broke to read that the mayor of Nashville had to experience her only child passing away due to a drug overdose. In response, she urges families to talk about addiction. That used to be such a taboo topic for families.
Even before my brother and dad passed away because of their addictions, I’ve had a sensitive spot for those who have had to experience someone passing away due to an addiction. We’re now faced with headlines regarding the opioid crisis in America and how it’s effecting workers. I remember as a kid when I saw a headline of someone of some significance passing because of a drug overdose you heard the murmuring of how it was such a shame they turned to drugs. Now, it’s a casual conversation that takes place daily and not an after school special program.
I grew up surrounded by addiction: my grandparents were heavy smokers and alcoholics, my mom was a smoker (eventually quit), my brother smoked a lot of things and starting popping pills after a surgery as a teen, and my dad had a drug record (not known till after my parents separated) and was an alcoholic. My first experience with understanding how addictive cigarettes are was when I saw my grandmother light her hair on fire trying to light a cigarette. This was within 48 hours of her passing and she just couldn’t take not having a cigarette. Once I remember pleading with my mom to have a cigarette because of how wicked she was when she opted to just cut them out cold.
It wasn’t until my late teens/early 20s did I experience what addiction to pills and other drugs could do to someone. I watched my brother’s health decline in various ways, blaming it on genetics, or this or that; yet, all the while it was because the pills were damaging his insides.
I attended Al-Anon and NA meetings to seek understanding and gain more exposure to people who overcame their addictions or those who were also there for support. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences: to be in a room full of people who understood the pain and emotions you felt.
While I’m very open about my life, I don’t blurt out such heavy information about my life unless it’s part of the conversation. I used to isolate myself because of this aspect of my life. There were certain social situations I’d refrain from because I didn’t want to see friends excessively drink. I also learned what it’s like to live in a city and feel so alone, thinking that not many others had to deal with what I had to.
Turns out I was so wrong.
Not only did I have friends and people I lived with have a similar experience to me, but I met so many others who had even worse experiences than I.
I realized that I can’t isolate myself. I could be someone who helps someone else realize they aren’t the only one, that it’s okay to talk. The pain and anxiety I inflicted on myself for years because of thinking I should or needed to isolate myself was only hurting me. If this is one of the reasons for me being put on earth, I’d like to complete that task.