October 16, 2009

Act I



I was raised in pure chaos. A life long friend of mine once told me that my family reminded her of the Adams family on Acid. My mom had 6 kids, 5 with one husband and then me with my dad at the age of 42 (she must have had a little screw loose:) My father was an alcoholic as was my mom's previous husband. My mom was a binge drinker and there were many physical altercations between my mother and father when I was younger. My dad was full Canadian and came to the US and taught himself to speak English (too bad he stopped teaching me French at age 2). He was a Chef and he and my mother opened three successful restaurants at different times. Each time he would sell them somehow behind my mom's back, take the money to Reno, gamble it all and fly back to Montreal. This happened at least twice that I remember leaving my mother often with no car or money. We would then have to apply for welfare and my mother would find work in the restaurant industry. She often walked back and forth to work, but always found work and worked hard...when she wasn't on a binge. I remember wishing on falling stars when I was young, blowing three kisses and wishing my mom wouldn't drink that night and thought it worked. She didn't start drinking alcohol until the age of 38 when a doctor told her to sip wine for her stress. Wow, little did he know what that would lead to! She was the type of drinker that could go months without a drop and then go on a week binge with complete blackouts at the end of the night. Sometimes she would only go a couple of weeks in between, no steady pattern so nothing was even remotely predictable. She would often buy soda and chips, cookies, etc., and I always knew that was her payoff for us because she was gonna drink her bottle of Seagram's straight from the bottle with a water chaser until she passed out. She was a MEAN drunk, awful with the tongue. When she was sober she was the sweetest woman on earth, many referred to her as Mrs. Clause:)

My father was in and out of my life until the age of 15 when he was dying from cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told him he would recover completely if he just wouldn't touch alcohol again. Dad was a beer drinker (case a day sometimes). You couldn't tell when he was drunk because he stayed that way all day. It was not a sloppy obvious drunk, just a regular guy who drank lots of beer to the outside eye. He chose to leave the hospital, get on a plane to Montreal and died two weeks later in his homeland. I remember crying very little, didn't even go to the hospital as I was by then dating a 21 year old drug addict. My mom and dad both tried calling the cops to stop my relationship with this older man child but to no avail. Back then if a girl was willing or they didn't catch you in the act, nothing they could do...sure wish it would have been different it would have saved me years of heartache.

Growing up with my half-siblings was a huge chaos fest. My oldest brother was 26 years older than I and then on down. I have 4 nieces and nephews that are at least 6-10 years older than me. My oldest brother died of alcohol at age 59. He was clean for at least 15 years, had a good job, lived on a river and fished daily (his passion). He relapsed, lost everything and died several years later after much struggle.

My second oldest brother died 4 days before he got out of prison for stealing a car when he was drunk (they said heart attack, but mom always swore he was offed). This about killed my mom and the entire family. His name was Larry and he was born with mental and physical disabilities. He was a sweet soul and very funny, but again an alcoholic.

My next brother, Joe, has used every drug and drink possibly known by mankind. I once saw him melt down Actifed and shoot it in his arm. He has been beaten almost to death, lived in and out of prison for years, had two strokes, homeless for years and is now in a shared living home that provides him assistance. He once stole all our living room furniture for heroin. He is doing better than he has in many years but at a huge cost to his health and mind. He did well for about 12 years raising his twin boys and other son until he relapsed.

My sister died in February of this year after being diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer only 6 months before. She also struggled with drug addiction and alcohol. She gave her son up for adoption to his paternal grandpa and his wife when he was 6 and never got over it. She has two girls that now each have a child but always had a strained relationship with them. She was often abused by men and drunk a lot of the time. She moved from California to Washington, met a nice man and married. She was on prescription pills (way too many including morphine) for fybromyalga when she was diagnosed. We threw a fund raiser and got her and her husband moved into a small house where we live in California. It was the worst death I have ever witnessed nor care to.

My last sibling, brother Dan, is the one I have brought up in my posts often. He has never lived on his own, is bipolar and that went undiagnosed for years. We all thought his actions (talking to himself or traffic, anger outbursts, sleeping jags, etc.) were from drugs. His preferred drug is Meth and I have been told by his psychiatrist that he uses that because it actually calms him and the disease for short periods. That is why they call it self-medicating sometimes. But he is truly an addict and is institutionalized from being thrown in prison for violating parole for using. That is what he has spent the majority of his time in prison for. Such a shame the mentally ill have to be shoved in prison when they aren't hurting anyone but themselves.

There was a lot of fighting and verbal abuse. I became the "fixer" of the family, calling in sick for my mom's work at age 10 when she was drunk, getting in the car with her driving drunk (and in wrong lane) thinking if I was with her she would be safe, always trying to make things go smooth so she wouldn't want to drink, etc. It was a lonely life for me at such a young age and I made a lot of fun of myself and made jokes to try and help me get through. I didn't have any self-esteem and still struggle with that to this day.

My mom enabled my other brothers (never the girls) so bad. Mom always taught us it was Christian to help others, even to the point of giving them the shirt off your back. She often took in stray friends that were on the streets, fed them, gave them shelter. I always admired her for the love she showed to everyone that came her way, but now see that sometimes she could have shown it less and in a different way.

I did drugs in my youth. I smoked pot from the age of 14 until I was 18 years old. I did Meth on a steady basis (daily almost) for two years, maybe three when I was in my early 20s. I had severe panic disorder and was agoraphobic. I had situational attacks in the stores, etc. I wouldn't go back to those stores out of panic. I became pretty much home bound and still using Meth!!! My ex (my son's dad) said we were going to stop using as he was supplying it all. I stopped, he didn't.

I started going to junior college and got my AA degree as a legal secretary so I could try and support my son. I built my own home, and neighborhood, through the CHIP program for lower income families and it was a nice little home. I finally was able to move out of my mom's home when I was 26 years old. I lived with her until then for financial reasons for both her and I. By then my son was 6 years old. At age 5, his father and I split up, or I guess I should say I kicked his father out. He was a full blown Meth user along with other drugs including opiates. He stalked me for over two years. I always felt that my son should have his father in his life (probably because mine wasn't around much). This was a mistake of a young girl who tried her best at the time and I forgive myself now for it, but it took a long time. My son had necrosis of the hip at age 4/5 and had to wear a brace that made him walk funny. All the kids teased him and I tried to protect him, even putting him in play therapy hoping that would help him. He overcame it and can walk fine and has no pain. Shriner's are a blessing on a side note!!

Please see Act II for a the rest of the story.

Renee

11 comments:

Madison said...

Beautiful post. You are a precious survivor. I'm looking forward to reading on.

Pam said...

Thank you for sharing all that, you are right, we do get to know others better by their stories.

Chic Mama said...

I am so shocked at the extent of addiction through your family, I don't know what to say. It is so sad. I am just relieved that you have obviously got out of it. I look forward to hearing the rest of your story (if that's the right words)

Cheri said...

Renee,

I too was raised in a home filled with alcoholism, but my family life looked like "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" compared to what you have described. I identify with much of what you shared, as I was the fixer in my family too. I cannot imagine the emotional pain you have had to deal with in your life, yet you seem to have come out on top. You and your son are in our prayers. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and I pray God grants you the strength to share the rest, as I know there are those out there who will be touched and ministered to by your transparency.

Blessings,
Cheri

Annette said...

Oh honey, thank you for sharing your heart with us. You have an amazing story! Just that you have survived and are aware that there is a different way to live is HUGE imo. You are one strong momma! So glad that you shared....((HUG))

Tall Kay said...

What a tragic story of the pain and destruction of addiction. You are an amazing survivor. You are in my prayers. Bigs hugs!

Sherry said...

My heart aches for you after reading that. There is much of your story that I can relate to. I'm sure you are told that you are a survivor and a strong person, but people tend to expect that and you expect it of yourself. In reality you are also vulnerable and sensitive and need to nurture yourself!

I look forward to reading more about your life!

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

Thank you all for your comments. I do feel grateful that I survived my childhood and addiction years to get where I am today. And as Sherry put it, I am also so very vulnerable as many people I know expect me to be the "survivor" in all of my life situations, when sometimes I just want to be the irresposisble drop out so to speak. You all are amazing and strong, thanks for rubbing some of that off on me today:)

Syd said...

It sounds as if you had a hard time with growing up in a family that had a lot of problems. I'm sorry because all of that takes its toll. I'm glad that you are learning that being stuck in the past isn't a good place and that it is possible to develop new behaviors. I'm glad for you.

Kathy M. said...

Wow. I can relate to much in your story. Thanks for sharing.

Brother Frankie said...

i have been a blog reader of yours for a while now and never noticed this cause i use a reader.

thanks so much. i know how hard it is to put this on paper..

you are loved
brother frankie
a biker for christ