I want to be more open and personal here so I decided to share more “real” stories about my life. These past years writing on this blog I’ve omitted something major. So here it goes…I grew up with parents suffering from addiction disorder. My mom and ex-step-dad were both hooked on drugs when I was growing up. This effected me and my sisters lives in so many ways. Most people who know me well know this about my life. I decided for so long to avoid talking about this on the internet because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I didn’t want people to misjudge me or my family.
Some people think addiction is biological, that certain people can be prone to forming addictive behaviors or habits. From my experience I think people with emotional trauma and deep insecurities tend to turn to drugs or other vices to cope or self medicate. Once someone learns about my history they seem shocked and surprised that I turned out so “normal” and functional.
The thing is, I didn’t grow up with random people constantly coming in and out of the house. My mom didn’t drink much and wasn’t always out partying. She never intentionally exposed us to any drugs. In the darkest days of drug use they actually spent more time in the home, quietly passing time in their bedroom with the door closed. However, we absolutely experienced a lot hardship and negativity because of their addiction.
I think a lot of the older adults in my family had some kind of encounter with drugs or alcohol and each person has dealt with their situation differently. For my mom it’s something that she continues to work on, her journey is tough. I think she started messing with drugs here and there, at parties maybe. When she met my ex-step-dad their personality types and insecurities combined turned this occasional recreational use into something much more. It was a dangerous union.
For the longest time they managed to carry on, juggling addiction with work and family. One day this lifestyle became too much. My mom lost her beloved career of working with animals. I’m sure there were a number of reasons why she was laid off, but I think the drug use had a major role. She became depressed for what felt like 1-2 years, I can’t remember how long it really was but it felt that long. She spent her time in bed, sad, not eating and no doubt using drugs. She eventually learned new skills and got back into the job market but it was a struggle.
My ex-step-dad is another story. He was a loud-mouth know-it-all. An intelligent but arrogant man. He was an extremely talented and skilled carpenter by trade and could fix or make anything you can imagine. He went to college for aircraft maintenance technology. He was also very controlling and would go through these terrible manic-like periods. He became obsessed with discipline and perfection. He latched onto certain things and relentlessly pushed. There is so much I can say about the way he treated us, but there are so many incidents that this post would run way too long.
Adults need to understand that children are really smart, intuitive and are quick learners. My mom started dating ex-step-dad around the time when I was in third grade. We moved in with him when I was in fourth grade. I started having serious suspicions when I was in fifth grade. I verbally expressed my suspicions to a friend in sixth grade. My sisters and I pieced it together, found clues and just knew what was happening. We had enough information from those Red Ribbon Week assemblies and handouts to know. The drug use was something we never addressed with our parents. Sometimes to this day it’s really difficult to address the issue directly to my mom. I skirt around it and say, “I hope you’re doing better with your issue…”
What was really suspicious was when they would leave every morning before we were even awake. I could hear them arguing, bickering, making coffee and leaving the house. I was supposed to pretend I didn’t know. After a few years of playing dumb I finally found a stripe of boldness within myself and asked my mom “Where do you guys go every morning?” She said I think…that they would go for walks around the park. I knew that was complete bullshit because they never showed any interest in health or fitness. It just was not something I could see them doing. Finally it came out later that they were seeking help for their substance abuse. Although they continued to use throughout that time. I think it just stopped them from having crazy withdrawals.
I don’t want this post to get too long so I’ll end it here. If you have any questions feel free to comment below. I have so many stories to share that were influenced by my parent’s drug use. Even the fact that I’m using the word “parents” to describe my mom and ex-step-dad is kind of a big step for me. That’s a topic for another post right there.