Did I make you uncomfortable?

I believe in telling stories of addiction with compassion. Of sharing the good and the bad. In looking at everyone in a fair way without judgement.

But I also have a deep belief that survivors have a right to tell their stories. Even if it makes other people uncomfortable. We do not have to hide our pain because you cannot handle it.

Everything has a consequence.If you don’t speak up for a child that needs you, someday you may have to face being confronted by that. Survivors don’t have to silently carry their traumas to maintain the status quo within a family that turned away from them.

Survivors have no obligation to protect those who failed to protect them.

Mother’s Day

I had a complicated relationship with my mother

When my Mom was alive we didn’t really celebrate Mother’s Day. We would try, but our hearts were not really in it.

My Mom struggled with Motherhood. I thought she was selfish and did not love us. Her addiction dominated our life. I never was able to have a close relationship with her. I held an incredible amount of anger and resentment over that.

It sounds weird, but I loved her, but recognized she wasn’t a good Mom. Mother’s Day just felt like a reminder of what I never had.

Nearly six years have passed since her death. Mother’s Day is a glaring reminder that my Mom is no longer here. Despite our complicated relationship, I miss her.

Since her passing I have changed. Prior to her death she apologized to me. It was a brief, but it helped me heal. I have learned so much about addiction and dysfunction. My viewpoints of her have softened.

I don’t think that she hurt me on purpose. I believe that she was so lost so deeply in her pain and addiction she could not see it. It doesn’t excuse the worst of what I dealt with, but it gives me closure. I choose to forgive because I refuse to carry that pain forward.

I can hold her responsible for her mistakes, but still feel the pain of her absence.

If your struggling this weekend, please know you are not alone. Know that there are many who are right beside you.

We will get through this together. 💙

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 64 if she did not lose her battle with alcoholism.

I had something else written out, but as I prepared to post, it did not feel right. It felt too seriously, so instead I decided to share some of my favorite stories of her.

I brought her to see Bad Grandpa and she thought Johnny Knoxville was the funniest thing ever. I thought she was going to be offended but she died laughed.

She broken her femur before I was born. The hospital tried to take her pants with hospital shears. She told then they were not going to cut her goddamn Levi’s off and proceeded to get them off.

She loved our dog Birdie. She treated her like her first grandchild. There were always treats and new toys for Birdie when we visited. Bird was allowed to drool on everyone, jump on furniture and reign general chaos. One time me and my now husband caught Mom feeding Birdie half of a steak. We let them have their moment.

Most importantly she was the first person to believe in my writing. She believed in me before I did. She told me I had a gift with words, and encouraged me to keep writing. More than anything, that has stayed with me.

My Mom had a strong, stubborn, loving personality. Much of my strength and tenacity comes from her. I am proud to be her daughter and carry those traits into my life. She was an alcoholic, but first and foremost she was a person. A person that I deeply love.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Having to walk away.

This was taken at Father Daughter dance at my wedding. This is the moment my Dad chose to apologize that his girlfriend was not there.

“ You know __ is sorry that she isn’t here right?”

As the child of an Alcoholic I am expert at hiding in plain sight. Covering my emotions when needed. But on that day my mask slipped. The disbelief showed on my face. We were surrounded by cameras, so I quickly forced a smile. I didn’t want anyone to know something was wrong.

But the photographer caught it.

This picture holds so many emotions. I feel anger, and sadness and disappointment. I look back and I feel let down. He took a moment from me that I will never get back.

Outsiders who say “ But they are still your family” have no understanding of how how hurtful family can be. They don’t understand the pain that brings us to the point of no contact. It is not easy, but sometimes we are left with no choice.

People always ask where my healing journey began. It was in this moment. When my concepts of my family was shattered and I was forced to see the truth. When I realized that the dysfunction was much bigger than my Mothers alcoholism. When things got incredibly complicated, but also painfully clear.

The truth is sometimes the best thing you can do is leave your family behind. You can love them and still walk away.

It is complicated sometimes.

Impacted by Alcoholism Week 1

This piece is part of the impacted by alcoholism series. Impacted by Alcoholism is a campaign to bring awareness to the issue of Alcohol misuse in the United States and beyond. This story and picture was submitted by Darcy Bloom.

There’s all the typical childhood stuff; neglect, isolation from other people, wasted money and broken promises…

But I didn’t fully comprehend that my dad was an alcoholic, and what that meant until I was in my mid thirties.

There were so many lies and things swept under the carpet, I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of challenges in my life connecting with other people, trust issues and also acknowledging my own needs and who I am.

For a long time, I have felt so lost.

Last year my dad died during our first covid lockdown here in Australia…

His last 7 years were rough….for nearly two of those we hadn’t spoken.

He had become brain damaged from alcoholism, was homeless at times and  ended up living in a shelter. This is the place that he died…alone in a small room.

I wanted to save him so badly, even after everything that had happened, but I couldn’t.

It would have meant sacrificing my own family and impacting my daughter.

The guilt has been heavy; at times I thought it would consume me.

I have written a lot of a angry, painful words about him and his addiction, but the thing that really sits with me now is that I missed out on a “normal” father/daughter relationship with him.  It just wasn’t possible and along with grieving him, I’m also grieving the things we could never have.


Hindsight 20/20

When I look back at old pictures of you it is bittersweet.

 I have an entire album of pictures of you. I felt a protective pull over those photo albums. It was all I had left of you. Looking backwards makes me smile.  In those pictures, you look healthy and happy. Well dressed. Being held by loving parents. Surrounded by friends. You look like the stereotypical American child.

You had no idea what was coming. How your choices would come to shape your life. How your addiction would come to shape mine.

Unfortunately I saw the tragedy of your life unfold. I watched you claw at the edges of addiction unable to escape. I was shaped within the dysfunction brought forth by your addiction. I was there at the unfortunate ending. I watched Alcoholism end your life.

It still hurts in many ways I struggle to put words to. There are memories that I am not ready to unpack yet.

I don’t know where your addiction started. That was one of the many secrets you took with you. In the wake of your death, I have come to terms with living with the unknown. There are things that we will never know, because of your silence.

There is nothing I can do about the past. It is done.  Looking back at my childhood with anger, does nothing, but hurt me. I can hold you accountable, and still find it in my heart to forgive you. within healing I can stop this pain from continuing forward to my children.

In the end, I think that is the best gift I can give all of us.

Impacted By Alcohol

 In December, I was involved in the Tropicana campaign. They launched advertisement that joked about parents sneaking away from their kids to drink. It was harmful to those recovering from Alcoholism. it also hurt for those who watched loved ones suffer with Alcohol.  Due to pressure Tropicana took it down, but it got me thinking.

Our relationship with Alcohol is complicated. Our lives are saturated with it. It is a part of most social events. Yet when someone develops alcohol dependency, no one wants to talk about it anymore. There is so much judgment, for both the Alcoholic and their families. The blame tends to fall squarely on the shoulders of those who fall into Alcoholism. That mindset is not fair or accurate. Alcoholism is a combination of choices, genetics and our environmental conditions. It is much more complicated than society makes it.

 After Tropicana pulled the ad, many people were angry.  They said we were too sensitive or couldn’t take a joke.  Unfortunately, there was a lot of nasty comments, but those two bothered me the most. It felt like people were discounting our experiences as survivors. Our pain made them uncomfortable, so it was easier to ignore us.

Trying to talk with people in the comment got me nowhere. The response needed to be bigger. It needed to rise about that division. The struggle was, what should that look like?

What drove me to action was what I saw. I kept stumbling across ads making jokes about Alcohol. Making light of hangovers or talking about Mommy wine culture. I have personally seen where that can go, and to joke about it is dangerous. I could not say quiet anymore. I realized that in order to make change, they needed to see us.

I came up with the campaign on a Tuesday. I had a piece of notebook paper and a pen.  I was disappointed because I did not have a marker.  I worried it wouldn’t look professional, but I felt a drive to move forward. I made my sign, wrote the post and put it up. I hope for the best but had low expectations.

 The response exceeded my wildest dreams. It was incredible watching the chain reaction of people telling their stories. So many people stepped forward, and into their truth. They revealed the secrets that they had been hiding for year. To watch people, step out of that darkness and isolation, was incredible.

I watched people connect with one another. Share stories and support one another.  Alcohol is stigmatized, creating an environment where people stay silent. This campaigned allowed people to break free of that and create meaningful connections. It was amazing to watch people who had been touched by alcohol come together and speak out. The campaign continues. Each day more stories are added, and the community grows. It amazes me that my post helped create that.

It taught me important lessons too. To listen to my inner voice and believe in myself.  I am strong, well-spoken and capable of creating meaningful change. I also learned that something does not need to be perfect to create meaningful change.

There is so much more work to do. Yet I believe that beginning is the hardest part. When we create community, we start to break that stigma. That is the first step in changing things.

 Together we heal.