One of my biggest pet-peeves is people saying that the truth only comes out when a person is drunk or that drunk/ intoxicated people are the most honest. It literally hits home for me when I hear this. No, I don’t think of drunken love confessions or deep dark secrets spilling out when I hear that. I have my own set of horrible experiences far from these cliche ones, which have left me scared and deprived of trust in people and my self-worth, which makes it harder for me to accept love and all the good things in life.
When I hear people talking about drunk people, all I can think of is every gut-wrenching, knife-in-the-heart expression spit at me by someone who was supposed to have loved me unconditionally. My own mother. And if I say, my mother must hate me then, they tell me she can’t. You know what, I want this to be true more than they do. People tell me, she’s my mother. She can’t. But those are the ones who told me that someone who is intoxicated with alcohol is at their most honest, truest self. And that the truth is more likely to come out then. So which is it then? Is my mom expressing her actual hatred for me or is she just saying things in anger?
How am I supposed to take it when she tells me she hates me, or when she says she wishes she was never a mom, so she could have a better life? How is a son or a daughter supposed to react when their mother tells them they are psychotic, evil, crazy, unappreciative and that they remind her of their father? I have dealt with all of that and so much more, that I can’t forget anything. Hearing your mother tell you that you belong to a mental hospital as you’re ‘mentally-incompetent’ can be one of the most traumatizing memories for you. That’s that for me. I’ve realized that love and affection come at a price, and if the price isn’t paid up, it is taken away. I sadly have to blame my mother for this because she chooses not to get help or recognize that she has a problem, even after going in and out of treatment. She has become really arrogant about her own self-destructive habits, just like most of the addicts. I mean, she won’t be like that if she were just herself all the time. She’s not! In the course with addicts, nothing makes sense. It’s insanity, it’s chaos, it’s never feeling safe or okay. It’s just a matter of when the next blow will come. If one such addict does feel like being a parent, it would be when it’s convenient for them, next week, next month, next year or never.
My therapist describes all of this as reeks of narcissistic personality or Borderline Personality Disorder ( a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships). Of course, she wouldn’t know, she has never dealt personally with an addict who she loves, who wasn’t always like this. I couldn’t pick the hour or the moment everything started going out of hand. It was gradual, and I was stuck in the middle. Someone had to remind me to save myself or else I would drown. All those people who keep saying they wish they could’ve been there for people (most commonly said for celebrities who died due to drug overdose) and that their presence would have made a difference, these people literally have no idea what it’s like to aid an addict. This is not something emotionally satisfying or heroic. It’s like being dragged through a nightmare you can not imagine.
Do you know what addiction is? A monster, an evil beyond imagination that takes someone you love and care about, and twists them into a monster- not the good kind. Here I’m only talking about addiction for a substance, like drugs or alcohol, and not behavioral addictions. One type is when our body shows physical reliance on such a substance because of its habitual and excessive intake. In this case, our body might show negative withdrawal symptoms when the body is deficient of the substance. The other one is psychological dependence- a case where the addict feels being in their preferred emotional and mental state after consumption, on which they slowly become dependent. Both the kinds are equally difficult to deal with, I believe. And then the addict makes people around them suffer from sadistic emotional tortures and sometimes physical too. It’s worth noting that not everybody’s experience with an addict, who happens to be their loved one too, would be the same. But here, my only regret is that if I could sense it when it was going to take over, and if something was done beforehand before the habit turned into an addiction, I wouldn’t have had to face such days. I would still be having those happy mother-daughter conversations at home over a cup of coffee or while driving to the nearby supermarket.
Addiction is something that will come tip-toeing at your door, would not even knock but enter, and will take away everything you had. It is something that can’t be looked away just because it doesn’t cause enough trouble today. Would you wait for the trouble to begin and then take action? Is that feasible? I never realized when the monstrous addiction took over my mother, but I know now that it has snatched her from me. People who already realize that their loved ones can still be helped, they should seek help immediately. I don’t know what will work for who, but we always have people around us to seek guidance from. Never hesitate to share the condition transparently because that’s how best help can be provided. We always get that one chance to save them, and the next chance to save ourselves. Hope we realize that the first option helps everyone suffering, along with your loved one. I recognize that people do and have recovered from this disease of addiction, and they have all my respect and admiration. It’s the ones who are self-destructive, who drag their loved ones down with them and repeatedly destroy those peoples’ lives. They are people who would go to any extent to justify their monstrous behavior, people who think they are above getting help and can help themselves and aren’t really ‘using too much of the intoxicating stuff’. They don’t get anyone’s respect, they get people’s disdain and hatred. It’s really not ‘okay’ to let them be if there are still possibilities of taking them out of this. Consultations, psychological and medicinal support is something which need be religiously taken for them, and supporting those who are willing to come out of this chaos is the least we must do.
This isn’t pretty or romantic or like I said ‘emotionally gratifying’ in any way. I am with you, in knowing that it is really difficult, fighting against addiction, either for yourself or with your loved one. It is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and exhausting. At times you will feel as helpless as never before, like screaming in the middle of a crowded room with no one looking up. But when it’s the best if people get help in their initial days of addiction, or their lives along with all their close people’s lives will be ruined for no good reason. And because I have suffered, I can tell you it’s the saddest thing to be so close to them, yet so far away that you can’t help them anymore, and instead need to save yourself from all the trauma it has to bring.
When I take my mom as an example to share my experience with addiction, my intention is to make you realize that addiction is not an okay thing. I need to share the experience so that it can help you understand, that such an addiction is something alarming and we’re going to decide something concrete for it. It’s not something that can either be stopped overnight or can be fixed with some pills. There’s no right kind of advice for how to deal with this. So many people, in my experience, give up. In fact, I myself keep hearing things like, “I don’t want you coming to your cousin’s baby-shower because you’ll bring all that drama with you”, “Why does your mom do bad things sometimes?”, “I’ll pray for you” and I could go on and on. The support that I need to deal with this, I can’t see it coming for me from my close ones too. I’m writing to tell you, that when someone is trying to deal with such a situation in their lives, be at least supportive, if not being involved in the process. Friends tell me that I need to find some way to get over it. I wish I could find a way to get over it, or better yet, get through it. I wish this wasn’t real or happening. I wish I wasn’t forced to deal with it. Sometimes, when the person is in no way ready to save themselves, the only option left for people around would be to save themselves from all the negativity. I know, that sounds like you left your person, but I’m telling you, you can and must help them when they themselves get convinced for getting help. Without that, few shallow attempts would drain you and choke you with enough guilt. You ought to save yourself after that. Right now, for my case, I’m still trying to figure out how. I can’t care or put energy towards trying to save her from herself anymore. I have to save myself and unfortunately, no one’s written a ‘How do you do this and make it all okay’ guide. You wake up and you realize how much time and your life has been sucked up by this ongoing trauma. You too deserve a better life, and if your loved one isn’t giving it up to make it better for you, at one point, very, unfortunately, you have to think past helping them out of it. You have to think of how it’s going to be better for you and bear the hanging albatross around your neck.
What I would say to my mom who was everything to me at one point is:
“If you still want to buy me something, buy my pain away. I remember you telling me I’d go to hell. I remember you taking my car away and trapping me so I couldn’t get to school. I remember you making me feel like a dirty slut because skirts for church always looked too short on me with my long legs. I remember you threatening to press charges because I took your things home from the hospital while you were recovering from almost dying from alcohol poisoning, so you wouldn’t call that guy who’d take you to his house and let you “detox again”. Yes, where your heart almost stopped. I remember this being your second or third overdose. I remember you sending your alcoholic cousin home where I was staying to grab your things. I remember calling the police because I thought he’d try to break-in again. I remember you instigating fights with me always in the car and getting my sister to join in on the fun of ganging up on me. I remember seeing you unconscious in the ICU down the hall when your aunt was dying from surgery complications. I remember you telling me to leave your hospital room. I remember not speaking to you for 7-8 months, then finding out you got married, while you were supposed to be in treatment. I remember every vile horrible cruel thing you ever said to me while drunk. I remember you telling me you thought I was never ever appreciative of you and complained about how you didn’t get enough constant praise and encouragement. I remember you saying you wasted your time being my mom. I remember you saying you could have had a life with friends, a job, travel, if you weren’t my mom, and that I should be appreciative and grateful that you chose to be my mom. I remember you said you were done with me. I remember you saying I’m sorry, then leaving me with bruises, making my soul bleed, and calling yourself not perfect. I remember you pledging to help me, be my mom, never leave, always be there. That you loved me more than life itself.”
So tell me dear reader, where did she lie? Addiction and experiences with the same will leave you baffled and juggling with truths and lies, responsibilities and pleasure, sense and deprivement of it in life, words, and actions. There’s a wonderful life that’s beaming with glory, and each one of us deserves it. There will always be setbacks like addiction, that would drag us down. But if you too have experienced anything that resembles my narrative, I beg you to take a pause and decide what you need to do at the moment. It’s not cowardice, if you have to give up on your idea of saving them, if you have already spent a large span of your life struggling with it. But if you can save and bring a loved one out of this hazard, nothing can be better than that. And if you yourself find you stuck with addiction, I beg you to read and realize what people around you might be going through each day, and sadly you haven’t realized yet. You can help yourself or at least intend to seek help because it’s not only about you, but about people, you have loved the most all your life. Please don’t lose them so easily. That’s all I would like to say. Hope it helped!