We hold our secrets close to our hearts when we can’t comprehend a situation foreign to us. We silently navigate the uncharted territory with no knowledge of the tools required. When you don’t understand, it’s hard to know where to begin, where to reach out for help.
This can’t be happening to me. Why is it happening to me, I don’t deserve this, are thoughts that first surface. We share our lives too much on social media, but for the most part it is a facade, a glorified exaggeration, an unrealistic view of who we truly are. When in truth we are all struggling with something deep beneath the surface. We are viewed by our “friends” as living life to the fullest. Perfectly posted filtered photographs present us to those who muse us from a distance, that we are living the dream, three words that are regularly used to mock the fact that we are NOT living the dream. Deep down we have underlying pain we suppress so no one sees our cracks, exposing our weakness and vulnerability.
“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage” Brene Brown.
We sprinkle our social media with post that support the dark side, the reality of Mental Health, in hopes that someone will repost in support. We don’t know who is suffering but we do our part and share the heart felt meme.
We share to become more aware. Awareness and sharing of our struggles is how we become relatable to those who don’t have the strength to reach out and ask for help, you are not alone! No matter how difficult your struggle seems, when you acknowledge it and share, tomorrow comes with the rising sun and you begin another day a little lighter.
As we silence and suppress our pain we disassociate ourselves with those who deeply love us, they can’t help you fix what they don’t know. Again, you are not alone. We don’t want to burden them with our truth. No one has time. We think we can do it alone. We isolate ourselves knowing that if we let them look deep into our eyes, and show our truth, they will recognize the pain we desperately hide behind the window to our soul. The music that once made my eyes sparkle and dance has stopped, I can no longer hide the sadness in my heart. That is my truth, for now.
When you become a Mother, you fiercely protect your children with vengeance. You would annihilate the world with a push of a button without a thought to save your child. The love you feel is unlike any other. You would give your life for them to breathe another breath, even if it were just one more. Your life has a purpose and that is to love and support them in every way humanly possible. We nurture and love, as if it is the only way to allows our heart to beat another day.
We have become experts at covering up what is really going on, out of fear we will be judged. When in reality, everyone has something they are working through. When you face this fear, you will see others standing next to you, understanding, knowing the path you are on, because they too have been there. You are never alone. It is a path because of others who have blazed it before you, remember that!
I grew up with a family member who struggled with Alcohol and Drug addiction. I was able to deal with my feeling from a distance because I didn’t bring him into this world. I had no comprehension of the magnitude of pain his addiction caused my parents. They so bravely dealt with it as best they could and sheltered me from the pain and struggle that was happening in their hearts. My parents navigated his disease, that I am sure crippled them at times, not knowing what else they could possibly do. They loved and supported him and sought guidance to help them on their unfamiliar path. Even now, they look back and wonder what they could have done differently or better, 40 years later. I had such empathy for my parents in my teens, in my eyes they were the coolest parents anyone could ask for. I didn’t understand how he couldn’t see this as clearly as I did. I was truly blessed. I chose many times to be with them over my friends because my love for them was so strong. To this day, they are my guiding light in life, and are now helping me navigate the path I find myself on with my son. I chose a path that couldn’t have been further from the one my brother chose, perhaps subconsciously, because I didn’t think my parents deserved to go down that rocky road again. I wanted to be the music that made their eyes sparkle and dance once again. My extended family also had struggles with addiction, a silent slow killer of a happy family dynamic. That secret we keep to ourselves, to keep the peace, in truth it gives us anything but peace.
I remember in my 20’s, coming to terms with the fact that I may get a visit from the Police informing me that my brother had come to his demise and I prepared myself for the phone call or door knock, that he finally succumbed to his end here, and would leave us with a mess of emotions to clean up. My brother did survive, albeit with a tornado of pain left in a path of destruction. I now understand how my Mom feels, knowing he is alive is a comfort but not knowing why he struggled so, haunts her heart every day as it does mine. Why would anyone choose to struggle if they had the choice, and that is addiction. Like her I am at peace when my kids are safe, healthy and happy. I wish for her peace in her heart each day.
I was angry for years at my brother for not knowing what he was doing to our family, in my eyes he was oblivious to the pain he had caused us by the choices he made. I separated myself from him, giving him tough love when he chose to reach out to me. I couldn’t have him lead me down his path, it was too painful for me, and I needed to support my parents. I know now that he has his own demons and a heart filled with regret, that only he can try to come to terms with in his own way. I wish him peace in his heart as well. Was he too far down the path to make his way back? I think there comes a time when we all feel it easier to just settle with where we are. The alternate is a great deal of work. It is a painful reality that I am not ready to face with my own son. I am hopeful that what he is going through is just a bump in the road and that he will prevail.
I am still in denial as I write this. I just want to wake up and it all be a bad dream. For whatever reason life has dealt me these cards, so the challenge begins for me right here. I don’t want to believe my own flesh and blood could make me feel such heart stopping fear. Anxiety washes over me throughout the day when I think of him. I want to know he will survive, and believe in my heart he will but there are times I find it hard to trust in a higher power when so many don’t.
I hold it together for my daughter, as my parents did for me to lessen the impact it will have on her life. I want her to see the good, and have faith that life doesn’t have to be a battle but a journey exploring the never ending possibilities that life has to offer. I believe what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and that it is how you react or deal with what comes our way that matters, but when you are in it, it’s hard to see the light.
I no longer think why is this happening to me, it has not been about me since the day my kids were born. My heart will stop beating one day, and my hope is that I can rest easy and leave this world with certainty that I did my part in serving others and that my children found their purpose and some meaning to allow joy in their lives.
I find strength when I look into my daughters eyes and see a caring, compassionate soul who tries to balance her fear for and love towards her brother. I find strength in knowing my son is a brilliant young man who is struggling to overcome what is below the surface that only he can see. If and when he choses to expose it, he will stand among those who can not only relate but help him heal.
We have to get through it because the other option is too painful a place to visit, a place where many parents and loved ones go each day in this crisis we face with mental health and addiction. The loss of a son or daughter is unbearable in any situation, but to not understand their troubles makes it even worse, because as parents we are programmed to make things ok.
Until we share the reality that we are facing, we can not begin to heal. We need to stop suppressing our pain to start the healing process, whether it be your healing or your family members healing. We can’t allow it to consume us, and each person has to be accountable to do their part in the process for it to work.
We need to fearlessly walk with purpose down the path where struggle needs to meet grit. My question is does he have the grit he needs to overcome his struggle? Perhaps that is what he is learning today.
When I reflect back on my brother, I can’t help but think if he had sought out the help he needed to face his demons sooner, what kind of relationship might have been possible. I love him no matter what, he is my brother and I have learned over the years to accept him for who he is. I have no judgment, just the feeling of loss of what may have been. When I think of my son, I have hope that if he does the internal work to find the source of his need to self medicate he will be at peace and find a higher purpose with meaning in his life. With the love and support of your family, regardless of how hard you think this is, you can conquer anything.