In less than two weeks I will be presenting ’til now at the Refocus on Recovery conference in London. I am excited, nervous, and of course busy planning! Below is an excerpt from ’til now that I will be reading as part of my larger talk on finding ways to own your own reality, live your truth, and make choices based on the life you are living, not a life defined by another’s addiction or alcoholism.
’til now is available on Amazon.com, in the iTunes store and at Vook.com!
My parents always told me there was nothing wrong with their lifestyle so I spent a lot of time confused about why it bothered me. This became especially difficult after I had children. I knew there was something wrong, but I did not know what it was. When my children were small we did not say anything about my parent’s drug use, we pretended it didn’t exist or planned around it. I did not like it, but I didn’t understand the problem.
They would lie to my children to hide when they went to smoke a joint, or were growing pot in their home. They needed me to lie as well, and without thinking about it I would say, “Don’t go in that room, maybe there is a surprise for later.” Or, “Grammy is going potty leave her alone.” I had to lie so often for my parents that I didn’t even know I was doing it. When you lie you know something is wrong even if you don’t know what it is; I would feel depressed and angry but I wouldn’t know why. I didn’t know what the truth was. You just said these things and no one got upset.
When my daughter was in 6th grade my husband and I needed to talk to her about drugs but we didn’t know how. Drugs and alcohol were a part of many people we cared about. We explained that we did not approve, that we did not want that lifestyle for her, but that it was not uncommon, did not make you bad, that her grandparents did this and we loved them and were a part of their lives. She was devastated. She never wanted to speak to them again. They told me I was a terrible person and terrible daughter; they told me it was none of my business and I should have kept my mouth shut, I had no right to say anything about them. I convinced her to forgive them, I made her feel bad for being angry with them, I told her how much she was hurting them because they loved her. Loving meant accepting without boundaries, giving up your principles to please someone else, abandoning your truth. It was one of the worst things I have ever done as a parent.
A year later my father lost his job and my husband and I offered him work thinking it would be a semi-retirement where he could spend time with his grandchildren and get paid. This was also terrible parenting.
We gave him a car; he would pick up the children from school, take them to their activities, supervise homework, and run errands. A few months after he started we noticed liquor missing. My husband and I drink, but not enough to forget how much we had been drinking. It was easy to notice the dramatic change. Also we keep a grocery list so if you use something up you put it on the list to be replaced. You don’t leave the empty bottle hidden at the back of the freezer. We watched the bottles carefully. We took measurements. We watched for too long.
The confrontation was terrible. I imagined a confession and recovery. Instead he denied everything and said things that made me feel crazy. He lied to everyone. My whole family hated me. They said I was a liar, a horrible person for saying these things. My mom said he was the most honest person she had ever met and I had always been a liar so it must have been me, or maybe my husband or my children. My dad said someone was probably breaking into our house. This went on for months. When he finally admitted it everyone said the job was beneath him, he had felt bad about himself, it was time to move on.
This is when I stopped being crazy and started my life. Until that moment I believed what they told me about myself, about the world, about who they were, about my history. I believed it all. They told me night was day and I believed them because I had heard that same story for so long it was all I knew. I was looking at the world through the hazy, drug addicted lens of someone else because I wanted the people who put the lens there to love me, to take care of me, to approve of me. I questioned myself and was almost ready to believe what my parents were saying so we could go back to normal and they would love me again. But it was too ridiculous. I had to hold on to this truth because if I pretended along with them I would be putting my children in danger. With this one truth the lens broke. It was a lifetime of lies and distortions to enable their addiction.
Until that moment when I said “this is true,” and refused to back down, I did not know how to have a life that was my own and that was not dependent on what they needed me to believe. I changed, and my life finally became real and true and my very own.