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Just sitting in the visiting room at the hospital thinking about my dad. I can't seem to shake this feeling that he's not going to make it this time.
I was thinking about being 16. I was in high school, working two jobs, taking care of my two little sisters because neither of my parents had jobs, and the money they got from government assistance usually went to drugs, or whatever phase they were in at the time. I never thought it was bad....My big sister did it for me until she had her son and moved, and now I was doing it for my sisters until they were old enough to take care of themselves. It was so normal to me....taking the bus from school to work, to my other job, then home. Do my homework, wake up and do it all over again the next day. My parents weren't drug addicts, they were just people. Those were the only kind of people I knew my whole life.
Anyway, I've been thinking about my mom....she was so happy all the time. So free and always smiling and laughing and singing. I know now that it was because she was loaded all the time, but being young it was actually something I was proud of. My parents didn't tell me what to do. They would get down and dirty and play in the mud with me. NOW, I know that as fun as that was, they didn't teach us anything, but in that way, I had a wonderful childhood. Sure we didn't have dinner everynight, and my mom and dad would fight and throw things at eachother and scream and yell, but we had fun. I remember when the electricity would go out, my dad would go to the circut box in out appartment building and figure out how to turn it back on. When we didn't have food, my mom would dissapear for a few hours and come back with arms full of $1 hamburgers.
I thought my life was just like anyone else's. I just thought my family was more open about it. When kids would make fun of me for wearing the same outfit three times in a week, I didn't understand it.
When I was 16, I remember coming home from work. My sisters were visiting my grandma, and my dad was passed out on the couch like usual. I went to take a shower, and the door was locked. When my mom didn't answer, I knew something was wrong. I woke up my dad and made him break down the door, and there she was. Laying on the floor, with her shoestring wrapped around her leg and a needle in her foot. After that vision, I don't remember much. I wasn't crying, I wasn't hysterical....I was in a daze. I couldn't talk. My dad put her in the backseat of the station wagon and when we got to the hospital, they didn't even have to examine her. She was gone.
I think about that, and I think about how it didn't bother my sisters so much that she was gone, but it bothered them that I was a mess. After her funeral, I became so antisocial, and all I did was work. I graduated high school, and watched my dad get worse and worse into his addiction, and was SO determined to not turn out that way. I got a better job, got an apartment, moved my sisters in until they were done with school, and went to college, and graduated with a degree in Alcohol/Drug studies, got a job right away, met my husband....but my sisters went the other way. Now as an adult, I feel guilt that they are going down the road our parents went, and I can't do anything about it. I feel like I was selfish to focus on me and my school and I think how can I help the clients I worked with when I can't even help my own sisters or dad.
Now, I see my dad laying in a hospital bed, on a machine that is breathing for him, and I can't bear the thought of going through loosing him. Sure, he wasn't a good dad. Sure he let things happen to me that never should have. He hurt me, emotionally and physically. He's stolen my atm cards, and said mean things, but I don't remember that so much as I remember the days he took us to the park. He always had a bottle of some sort with him, but he was fun, and he made sure we were laughing most of the time. I know he loved me. I've heard him break down crying and apologizing for the things he did. I know he's not bad. I know him so much better than anyone, and I know he loves with his whole heart.
I've been crying so hard I'm litterally vomiting. I don't know what I'm going to do now....I know life goes on, and that I'll be okay, but what if this happens to my sisters? Tina is 20, with 3 kids, and another on the way, and drinks so much I can't finnish a conversation with her on the phone without her falling asleep. Angie is in another state, popping pills since her son turned 18 and moved out, and Amber is nowhere to be found. Sometimes I wonder why I worked so hard to be an example and to take care of them when they didn't do it for themselves anyway, but then I know if I hadn't done it, I would feel guilt the other way.
I'm almost 23 now, and I'm JUST starting to get used to living day to day without my mom....And now I'm loosing my dad? I can't bear the thought of going through this again.
Then it comes to me having a baby....What if I'm just not a good example? What if I'm a bad mom? What if my child goes that way? What will I do? This is all I've ever wanted, to have a family of my own to love and build a home and now I'm second guessing myself. I feel so hopeless.
Cyndi & Albert. TTC our first together.
Wife, stepmommy, and mommy to three angels.
2/2009 5/2012 8/2012
Now as an adult, I feel guilt that they are going down the road our parents went, and I can't do anything about it. I feel like I was selfish to focus on me and my school and I think how can I help the clients I worked with when I can't even help my own sisters or dad.
Zig Ziglar sometimes tells a story about how these two boys grew up with an alcoholic father. One of the boys became an alcoholic, and the other became a big success and never touched the stuff. When they interviewed the alcoholic son about why he became an alcoholic he said, "I couldn't help it, my father was an alcoholic." When they then interviewed the successful son about why he became successful he said, "I couldn't help it. My father was an alcoholic, and I didn't want to be like him."
Everyone has to live with their own choices, good or bad. It is really, really hard to see someone you love making bad choices, but you can't blame yourself for that. Try to imagine how you would counsel a family member of an addicted person who came to see you, you know they shouldn't feel guilty because of their family member's choices. Easier said than done, of course.
As for the situation with your father, I'm so terribly, horribly sorry. Your parents are your parents, even when they have done things they shouldn't have. I can't imagine going through what you've gone through.
Rebecca is right. Once people become adults it is up to them to choose their path and there is not much the rest of us can do about it. Kudos to you for making something of yourself and do not worry, you already are a good role model for your step kids and future babies.
I know this will not make you feel better, but hopefully not alone. My brother is an alcoholic (neither of my parents even drink). He fell off the wagon three days ago and his girlfriend left him yesterday. He lives 1200 miles away from me so I feel very helpless. As I type this I do not know how he is. As of last night he was still on his three day bender and all I can do is hope he is still alive and has not hurt anyone else. I pray he contacts someone today so we will know he is alive. Sadly the only way am addict can get help is if they decide to help themselves.
My birth mother was an addict, I was finally taken away and legally given up for adoption to my parents at age 2. So I don't remember much of it whether I just can't face it or not I don't know but I've heard enough stories...
My oldest brother who has since passed away, was addicted to cocaine. He got clean eventually and became a good parent to his kids, unfortunately he passed away in '08 (not drug related). But then there's his daughter, N (my 18yo niece) is headed down a bad path too. N already has 2 kids, who she doesn't really care for. she'll leave them for days at a time with my mom or her mom so she can go party and do whatever with her friends. She broke into my sister's house and stole money from her. She's stolen money from my dad's wallet. You know what, if she had asked he probably would've given her money? Do I think she doesn't love her kids? No, but I think she's too blind to whatever she has going on at a given moment to really think about the impact of what she's going.
Then there's my ex. An addict and an abuser, who's mother was an addict and abuser and who's boyfriend used to sexually abuse him...so he turned around and did the same thing to me for years and years. But he wasn't always like that, I wanted to help him. I wanted to save him so bad and turn him back into that boy I grew up with. It was only a couple of years ago I realized that it wasn't worth it, after I almost died. 2 broken ribs, cigarette burns all over my body...etc. 4 months after that my life completely turned around and I met my DH. Now I'm married to a man who would never, ever, ever put his hands on me.
Sorry for how long/graphic this has become but...my point is of the behaviors are learned but it's only up to you how you deal with it. You're not responsible for what your sisters' have done and you can help them but you can't let it consume you. Because at the end of the day you need to be responsible for you. When you start to take on others problems, things can get really, really unhealthy really, really fast.
I'm praying so hard for you, Cynthia! I hope everything turns out alright for your dad.