Addiction and suicide can share a lot of emotional consequences, and sometimes go hand in hand. Having one parent who is an addict or one parent that commits suicide can be hard on its own, but what happens when you are unlucky enough to have both?
The first thing I became familiar with was addiction. When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand what addiction is, what it does to peoples brains or how it affects their life choices. You only know what those choices feel like. Everyone’s story is different, but the trauma is all too similar.
You start to feel what it’s like to be rejected. A second choice. Like your parent is always too busy and occupied by something more important. I always wondered, what could be more important than your children? Your brain tries to distract itself because it may not be old enough to really comprehend.
So you play outside, you have friends, ride your bike, try to be a normal kid. At the end of the day something just doesn’t feel right. It leaves something about you empty, and you may not know what for a long time.
Loving an addict is hard, whether they are your parent or not. It’s unrewarding, it’s painful, and it’s so hard to understand. Addiction is complicated enough for adults to figure out, but for a child? It’s absolutely damaging.
Some people live with their addict parents their entire childhood. Facing one kind of abuse after another. Either they hide it well enough, or maybe it’s not SO bad, that the outside would dismisses it. Sometimes people know, but they aren’t sure what the right thing to do is. In my case, someone thought we needed to be away from it.
So they reported my mom, we went to foster care. Little kid, strange place, separated from my siblings, it was a whole new kind of scary. After that you never really feel safe anywhere for a while. If these strangers can just take me away from my home like that, what else can they do?
Being a foster kid is weird. You live in this house with a family who was kind enough to take you in, but it’s not home. You’re not their children, you’re temporary. It’s exhausting for someone in the 2nd grade.
Now we’re moving again, but it’s not back in with my mom. It’s… my dad? Who even is this guy? I didn’t really remember much about him before. Who knows who’s fault that was, my mom blamed my dad, my dad blamed my mom. That’s all irrelevant, because we’re here now.
I got to know him, I got to know my other siblings. I’m so thankful for the time I spent there. It opened me up to family I wouldn’t have know otherwise, and that was all because my mom did drugs. How was I supposed to feel?
Eventually my mom gets clean for the time being, me and my brothers move back in with her. I’m still pretty young at the time. I’ve gone through so many feelings and emotions that I’m not going to understand for a few more years, but everything is feeling like it might be…. normal?
All of a sudden I have a mom who is sober and now my dad in my life. Things start to feel like the storm has passed and the sunshine is out, but it was far from over.
Next came suicide. My mom and step dad are sitting us down, delivering unimaginable news. “Your dad killed himself this morning.”
What the hell? Why would he do that? We JUST got to know him, our life was just getting put back to together! I was heartbroken, angry, scared. I hardly knew what mental illness was formally. I knew the feeling, but I didn’t understand the pain.
Trying to wrap your head around someone killing themselves is complicated. You want to have empathy for the pain they must have been feeling. Their mind was sick, tainted with negativity. They had to have felt like it was better that way. You start to hurt because you think about them having to carry that everyday, but the anger lingers. They left you. Knowing all of the damage you went through, they were supposed to be here for you. You battle between who’s selfish, you or them?
I went on to spend so much of my life angry from the pain. Acting out, cutting myself, rejecting everyone before they could reject me. I felt abandoned on both ends, like I wasn’t good enough to receive the right kind of love from either parent. I wasted so much of my life broken. Damaged. Feeling bad for myself, thinking I must only be here to feel pain. So why am I even here?
It lead to me being pregnant as a teenager, and desperately wanting a different story for my own daughter. I begin to recognize my own mental illnesses. Seeing the same traits in myself, and honestly so terrified. I don’t want to end up like them, an addict or shooting myself in the head. I don’t want to damage my children, my loved ones. I don’t want to transfer my pain on to everyone around me.
After spending so much time hurt and pissed, I wake up one day, and suddenly I’m looking at the world different. Why am I feeling appreciative of the pain…? Something clicks or maybe I’m tired of being broken. So I embrace it all. The pain, the heartbreak, the struggles. I embrace it because without it, would I try to be the best mom I can be? Wife? Would I take advantage of my blessings? Would I make sure to love the right way? Would I care about others or be considerate of their pain if I didn’t carry my own? Would I have even begun to understand the important things in life yet? I have to believe it has made me into a better person.
Now I try to carry my pain like a badge. I will never be fixed because I am not broken. I went through all of those horrible things so I could appreciate the amazing things. Many people don’t want to accept it, but the things we go through are a part of who we are. If I didn’t have so much hurt, I wouldn’t have so much love. I am the product of addiction and suicide.