Addiction. I hate this word. I don’t use the word lightly. I’ve seen this word tear families apart. Some can be mended some cannot. I have been wanting to write about my family’s struggle with this for some time, but it’s hard and sometimes painful to relive the moments and parts of our lives that dealt with this.
My step-father, who was married to my mom for about 19 years was an alcoholic. I have not kept in contact with my biological father when we moved to the United States, so my step dad is the person who helped raise me. He was my only father figure. And it was tough. Sometimes he would be good for a couple months, several months, once he seemed to be good a for year or two. But when he would drink it was bad. We always got fussed at for the smallest things. I think we would try to stay away from him so we wouldn’t make him mad.
My mom—she worked a lot. Days, nights, weekends, you name it she worked it. Sometimes I literally try to understand why. Why did everything happen the way it did? Why did it take her 19 years to divorce him? But through the past several years I know she did her very best. That the pain and struggle I felt from my experience doesn’t even compare to what she went through. I know her pain is far greater. Something I honestly know I can’t even begin to comprehend. She was always and will continue to be the bravest person I know.
I know now that my step dad was fighting a lot of demons. Addiction seems so easy to understand to us on the outside, but is far more complex than any of us could even begin to understand. As a person that has seen alcoholism first hand, it’s hard to know when to help and when to let go of what was.
Dustin and I got engaged in November of 2009. I would say it was around this time where my step dad got worse. He and my mom had begun the process of getting a divorce. I know this was hard on him. As a 23-year-old, I tried…I did the best I could to talk to him and visit him from time to time. But ultimately, it was too hard. He would sometimes call me. I could hear it in his voice that he was drunk. A voice I had come to hate. He would call me and say really mean things about my mom and my family and I just couldn’t take it. It was overwhelming.
I remember the last Father’s day he was alive June 2010. I mailed him a Father’s day card like I did every year. In the card, I wished him Happy Father’s Day but told him that if he didn’t get help and stop drinking that this was the last card he would get from me. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
When Dustin and I got engaged I did want him to walk me down the aisle. I wanted him to walk me down the aisle because I felt like it was something he might just want bad enough that he might get better. Just for a little while. But it didn’t.
Dustin and I got married on Saturday, January 15, 2011, and my step dad passed Tuesday, January 11, 2011. He passed away 4 days before our wedding and we had his funeral on Sunday, January 16th.
The hardest thing about living through and knowing someone who passed away with an addiction is that you’re never enough. That addiction is so powerful, it overcomes their life that not even their family is enough to make them better.
But out of struggle, God teaches us the most beautiful things. I’ve learned to let my heart forgive. I’ve learned to stop trying to find someone to blame for what happened. I’ve learned to not let this experience be a crutch in my life but make me stronger. To make me thankful for the little things, like seeing my only daughter look up at her dad because he is her hero.
So, if you are a child, spouse, friend or family member of someone who struggles with alcoholism or any other addiction please know it’s not your fault. The sickness that your loved one is struggling with is far beyond what our minds are able to comprehend. Please know whatever path you decide to take, you are doing your very best. And that is all you can do.