this could be the first time I have put all of this into words for people aside from my closest friends or family. Growing up with an addict is strange. Children of addicts become different than other children in a way I find difficult to explain. We know we’re different than our friends, but we don’t know how or why. We carry the trauma of our childhood with us through the rest of our lives. For me.. growing up in a home faced with an addicted parent.. in my case my father.. was isolated. I learned to cover up my feelings very early on as if they didn’t exist or matter.. I learned that other peoples happiness and health was more important than my own.. and I learned that I was different.. and always would be. As I have aged now into my early twenties, repressed memories of my botched childhood begin to resurface, and I realized that my childhood was a little less than ideal…
I have become accustomed to my overdeveloped sense of responsibility for other people because I would rather take care of others than myself.. I mean come on.. I did learn this behaviour before the age of 10… I am often full of guilt for many actions taken in what would have been a normal young adults life… such as going to parties and drinking alcohol with my friends… even if it’s not excessive.. I find it almost impossible to differentiate between love and pity because I want to fix every person that needs fixing.. pity feels like love because it fills the heart and takes over…
I have so many memories from my childhood blocked out it is a little bit difficult to recall a lot of good and bad times.. What I can remember vividly.. as I’m sure many children of addicts can relate to.. is the first time that I realized something about my family was very very different.. at the age of 8 or 9 my father went to rehab for the first time.. as a contractor and being he told “daddy’s away for work” I knew something was up.. what kind of contractor goes out of town for a month to work with no warning? A few weeks after he had gone to rehab, we were allowed to go visit.. I can clearly remember the drive and begging to pick up a “get well soon” helium balloon and a chocolate bar that melted on the dashboard of the car.
this was not the first time I watched my dad go to rehab. I watched his health and recovery slip out of his hands many times after that year.. including disappearing for days at a time.. talk of money disappearing.. watching my mom slowly go “crazy”..
in 2010 shortly after I came home from my first year of university, I discovered my dad had relapsed and was using again… how did we find this out? His phone shut off, he didn’t come home for 24 hours and he was found the next day in a motel almost dead, body full of a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.. he had tried to commit suicide and was placed in the hospital for 72 hours. shortly after he came home, he went to rehab for 50 days in florida.
Most recently.. when I came home from my 3rd year of university to attend to a friend who was in hospital for mental health related reasons.. my father bent down to pick up his glasses and his pipe fell out of his pocket and landed in front of me.. using again.
he has now been clean for almost 1 year….. “apparently”… who am I to believe this after all the lies I’ve been told in the past about being clean, getting clean… and staying clean. I’d be crazy to believe this is the time he stays clean forever.
As for me.. I am still learning to cope… depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder are not all uncommon to me. Thoughts of suicide have become rampant in the past year.
Here’s to hoping my family makes it out alive.. literally.