How will it end? This journey I’m on. So many variables. So many influences. So many people in my life. Close and distant. What is this journey? Why is it? Where is it going? What’s the what? How’s the how? Such a mystery. Does the journey mean life? Does it mean what’s going on now? Is it related to my career? My mental health? My addiction? The current happening I refuse to share? One, two, and three. No ones business. I want no record. Not yet. Someday I will talk about two, no, probably one. In fact I know I will, but in veiled, cloaked manner. I do not want my children to ache.
The kids may ache from some of my posts to date. I only hope it will explain to them what I went through. Why I was in hospital so much that year when they were 11, 9, and 5. Last year has impacted them hugely. Mostly in a negative way. Maybe my posts will heal them a little. When they are much older. Old enough to understand easier. Maybe they will never understand. They will know what happened. At the moment it is a secret. A burden no child should have to bear. No child of mine will bare. Not now. When they are older, teenagers no doubt, my husband and I will sit her/him down and explain what happened mommy that year. Why she wasn’t there, and why she wasn’t there when she was there. My five year old, now six, will likely not remember that year, but there is a mark on her, a hollow that she many never understand. Maybe worse for her because she won’t remember. She may feel a sense of abandonment for years to come. She seems to be doing well.
The last few weeks have been great for me and the kids. Their dad has been working a lot of overtime, and out in general. He’s going to Canada for work next week. I have been with the children a lot. Just the four of us. We have been doing a lot of bonding. Often in the form of yelling, tears, teenage eye-rolling. We are getting back to normal. For months whenever I was in the room with them, they still went to daddy to ask for anything. I was not a parent. I was an empty shell in the room. Even as my mental health improved, I was not a parent. Dad was. That is no more. This morning when I woke my six year old, her bed full of stuffed toys – no really – stuffed, she snuggled up to me and was delighted to have me by her side. A few months ago she would have told me she loved daddy more. Crying at the same time, but saying that. She doesn’t do that any more. She loves me again. Not that she stopped, but she was wary of showing it. Unsure of herself around me. It is a joy to have her back. The older two were quicker to warm up. In fact my son, now 10, never cooled to me. He’s always been a momma’s boy. Always been my boy. I love all my children, equally. In our house however, daddy’s girls and mommy’s boy, are very true. Both of us parents love them all, but I click easiest with my boy. He and I have a physical bond like no other. He always wants to hug and kiss me. I love it. I’m sure it will stop soon. He’ll be too cool. While for some of his friends of his age, that has already happened. He is not embarrassed of being with me. When I pick him up from camp or school, he is right by me instantly. The girls are likely to stand back “What’s for dinner?” “Can we watch tv when we get home?” “When’s daddy home?”
Back to where I started with the kids… Apart from explaining what happened. What I went through. And in turn, what they went through. They need to know that I have\had a serious mental illness. That I was crippled by it for a year – more – less. From my first hospitalization to my last was fifteen months. For that last 3 – 6 months I think it was more acting out. Not knowing how to handle my thoughts, my urges, my ‘nearly better’ life. They also need to know that I am an addict. An addict like any other addict. My substance of abuse is alcohol, maybe sex, maybe shopping. Mine are all legal addictions. I am an addict. I am an addict. I am an addict. I can say that out loud. I don’t feel shame about it. Just because my substance is alcohol, it does not make me any better that anyone else. I have met sex addicts, gamblers, obese food addicts, porn addicts, weed, coke, crack, heroin addicts. You name it – I’ve seen it. And you know what? Most of them were just like me. Not in every aspect. Some were a lot more wealthy. Some poor. Some from the north shore, some from the projects, eighteen year olds, an eighty-six year old. He came to every meeting impeccably dressed in a suit. He was a proud man, spoke in a very distinguished accent, and truly felt like everyone else. He often went to the young people’s meeting on Saturday night. I usually felt old there. He was welcomed with open arms. As are all the felons, people with lesser records, and people who had been sheltered all their lives. Addiction is not the addict’s fault. Not seeking treatment is. Relapsing may or may not be the addicts fault. Most addicts relapse over and over. I have met people who were clean for over thirty years, and then went ‘back out’ as they say in A.A. My kids need to know I have these problems. Both mental illness and addiction are genetic. Not every child of parents with those issues will also develop mental illness or become addicted to something. But there is a large genetic component. Studies have been done examining siblings who have been
I would like to address food addiction, and other non-substance addictions. People who are not non-substance addicts usually poo-poo those addictions. I guess I would have until this time last year. We all laughed at Tiger Woods when he was caught cheating. “Ha ha – he says he’s a sex addict.” And for over-eaters. “She’s huge. All she needs to do is stop eating.” Etc. Etc. Etc. I was in residential care last year, for mental illness treatment. A month living with maybe twenty other patients. The center treated mental illness and over-eating. The split was 50-50 between the two groups. I was a little uncomfortable initially. I wasn’t sure how to react. We sat at different tables. Us wackos were much more free in choosing what we what we ate. The binge-eaters were not. Very quickly we all bonded. We became ridiculously close. Mentally ill and Obese people all together. I am still in touch with many of the people there, from both groups. I saw the struggles they went through. I saw that where I became suicidal, self-harmed, drank, took pills when I couldn’t handle my emotions, they eat. It’s as simple as that. I learned something new in group today (I’m not in an outpatient treatment center for substance abuse). Addiction is in the current DSM V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition). Now I knew this. I knew addiction is recognized as a mental illness. What I didn’t know what the criteria that make an action an addiction.
There are three:
- It interferes with social relationships.
- It interferes with familial relationships.
- It interferes with work or school.
- Suppose I regular come to work and am still drunk or hungover and unable to perform my job as I can without the substance or action.
- How about if I regularly get drunk to the extent that my friends dread being around me when I’m drunk.
- Or my family are always worried at family gatherings that I’ll get out of hand.