For Yourself

I dropped Lila off at summer camp, 7am, today.  She actually woke up at 5am, and I slept until 6am.  She loves playing “classic games” on my Chromebook—it is a collection of the games from the Nintendo era (Mario Brothers, Kung Fu, etc).

Lately, I have been up and down emotionally.  I’m not sure what to make of it—but I have been writing in my journal quite a bit, and thinking a lot about the future.

On July 1—Lila, Ly and I went to visit my family in Pennsylvania.  It was a nice trip.  Lila reunited with her cousin, and good buddy, Michael—and she also spent time with her grandma and grandpa.  I was able to reconnect with my parents and sister, and hold my nephews.  Each time I see them, they are a year older—and each time I see them, it reminds me of how fast a year goes by.  It also reminds me of how quickly children grow and learn.

Ly was able to spend time with my family—it was the first time they met.  Of course they loved Ly.  She is a kind, warm hearted and uniquely intelligent person.  I care about her very much, and feel that we have a mature, strong connection.

During our visit, I of course noticed that my Mom promptly cracked a beer at noon, and kept drinking until she went to bed.  It reminded me of when I drank.  An alcoholic will create a time in the day where they feel it is appropriate to start drinking, and as long as you stay within your designated drinking time-frame, then you don’t have a problem.

When I drank—my time-frame was weekdays, anytime after 3pm (I worked a lot from home then) and weekends, anytime after noon—but on football Sunday, I could start at 11am.  I would consistently drink a 12 pack and bottle of wine on Sunday’s, easy—sometimes more.  But hey, I stayed within my drinking time-frame, so that’s ok, right?  Craziness.

Ok, back to my mom.

I knew at some point during the trip home, I would have to address, or mention my concerns about her drinking routine.  She has high blood pressure, borderline high blood sugar and has gained a substantial amount of weight—and she will turn 60 this year, so it’s my responsibility as a son to be honest regarding my concerns.

The day I was leaving, my mom cracked her usual noon beer.  It was just her and I in the room, so I seized the opportunity to bring up my concerns.

“Mom, as your son I feel it’s my responsibility to say what I am going to say right now.  I am saying this because I am concerned about your health, and I want you on this earth for as long as possible.  I noticed that every day you drink a lot of beer, and I am concerned that this could negatively impact your health.  I have been sober for almost 2.5 years now—and the last thing I want to do is pass judgment.  But as your son, I need you to know that for whatever reason you drink, if you learned to deal with that sober, you wouldn’t regret that decision.  A year from now you would be healthier, happier and more energetic.  I love you mom.”

I of course paraphrased, based on my recollection of our discussion.  But my mom didn’t say anything—she just looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said “ok, I know.”

I concluded by letting her know that she is an adult, and I respect anyway that she wants to live her life—and again, I felt it was my responsibility to let it be known how I felt.

I know that my mom drinks to deal with her sadness, specific to my older sister–a bi-polar, heroin-addict  living in total squalor in north Philadelphia.  A week before my family and I returned to Philadelphia, my older sister once again over-dosed and was placed in a treatment facility.  She escaped death one more time, miraculously— only to up and leave the treatment facility to go back to her junkie husband in their dirty hole in the wall in north Philly.

My mom and dad have been clinging onto false hope—thinking my sister will get better.  I keep telling them it’s a lost cause.  Ever since my sister reached the age of 13, she was into drugs and any other destructive activity she could find.

Addiction runs in my family.  That is how we deal with negative feelings and emotions…we suppress them by pouring loads of alcohol on them—and those suppressed feelings continue to be contained, and leak out in the form of anxiety and depression.  Not me, not anymore.  I chose to break that cycle.

If my mom is upset with me for expressing how I feel, I can’t help that.  At 35 years old, I’m not going to sit back and not address the elephant in the room.  I feel good knowing that I left my mother with something to think about.

Either continue drinking and end up with Type II Diabetes in a few years—or stop—and be around longer for everyone that loves you so much.  To do nothing, and enable her like my father does, buying 4 or more 30 packs a week is something I refuse to do.

The trip home, overall, was wonderful.  However, I left feeling a bit helpless.  I can’t fix my sister, I can’t make it all better—I can’t force my mom to recognize she is an alcoholic, and I can’t blame her for my struggle with alcoholism.  I can just love her deeply and hope for the best—pray for her recovery.

I am grateful that 2.5 years ago I decided to remove alcohol from my life—but I realize that it’s going to be a life long journey.  I don’t want another loved one to leave me—or Lila to have the discussion I had with my mom a few weeks ago.

Do it for your kids, do it for your health–and never forget, that to be successful, you have to do it for yourself.

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