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I watched my mom lose herself (mind, body, & soul) to her disease- alcoholism

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   I understand what they mean when they say alcoholism is a disease, because I watched it take everything from my mom; before it finally took her life. 

   My whole life, my greatest fear has been to lose everything, just as I helplessly watched happen to my mom when I was a boy. If I allow myself to remember, she had once been a beautiful, funny, witty person who had many friends. I remember her as a very young boy, when she would take me to gymnastics practice and we would play cards on her bed, while listening to Carly Simon albums. I warmly remember being held by her while she, myself, and my father would watch "Wheel of Fortune" and "Growing Pains" on TV (when TV was still just a box, and not something you could take with you everywhere). 

   The hardest and most painful experience of my life was watching, helplessly, while the disease of alcoholism slowly (but unceasingly) devoured my mom; until she took her life when I was twelve years old. It literally whittled her, physically, from a once healthy woman who loved to jog and go to the beach, to almost hardly more than skin and bones. While she had once been vibrant and full of life; she became almost like a black hole, which absorbed all light and joy that came near her. I remember thinking, as a boy, "Why can't she just snap out of it? Why does she have to be so miserable?" 

   I didn't understand then the nature of the disease, or that her drinking was even a disease. All I knew was that I wanted my mom back. I would have done literally anything to rescue her from the depths of despair and self destruction that she fell into. I did do and try everything within my power, as a young boy, to save my mom from herself. I found her liquor and dumped it out. When she asked me if she should check herself into a recovery program, I urged her to please get help and go. I thought if I was well enough behaved, and did everything that I thought she needed and wanted from me; then surely she would find my love reason enough to get better. 

   And (bare with me here) I failed in every conceivable way to rescue my mom. I failed her because there was nothing that I could have done, or anyone else, for that matter, to save my mom. I've learned, as an adult in my own recovery, that we can only save ourselves. I've also learned that the disease of alcoholism is deadly serious, and many good people and souls lose themselves to it. 

   Now, in my life, I want to remember my mom for the loving person who she was who I loved and admired so much as a young boy. With the trauma of what I saw unfold with her, I just about forgot that she wasn't the disease that killed her; nor was she the self-destructive and rageful person who she became in its grip. I like to think about the whip smart and funny woman who liked to eat popcorn while we watched 80's sitcoms. I like to remember her for who she was, and not what she became. Not so I can erase a part of the past that is painful; but so I can know that good people can say and do bad things in the dark embrace of things that are destructive to the soul; like alcoholism, shame, and so many other downward spirals. 

   I'm so sorry for the child who I was, who watched his mother fall apart while being helpless to stop it. I hope he can come to know that that was not his fault; that he was never responsible to rescue her; that nobody but herself could have done that. I want to tell him that I know he did the best he could. I want him to know that I forgive him for being a boy, and human (and neither of those things are a crime). And, lastly, I want to thank him, for surviving that awful experience (awful for everyone in that family) in the best way that he knew how. 

   ... And that his surviving was "enough". 


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Dear Gabriel,

Thank you for sharing your story which is both devastating, heartbreaking and yet at the same time inspiring.  Inspiring that you have survived and to say what you have said so beautifully and eloquent.    I'm so sorry for the pain you have suffered and so sorry for the loss of your mom.  It seems you have turned your pain into strength and vulnerability and gentleness and thats a beautiful way to be in the world.  I understand its been a torturous struggle to arrive at this point but thank you for sharing it with us.  its a life lesson for all of us.

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On 12/5/2017 at 1:35 PM, sadandlost said:

I understand its been a torturous struggle to arrive at this point but thank you for sharing it with us.

You're very welcome, @sadandlost. And thank you for your caring and encouraging reply. 

It helps me to read your words, to remember to show myself gentleness and compassion. Learning to be gentle with my own self is growing more natural, I am glad to share. It is also becoming more natural to reach out for help when I need it. 

Oftentimes I feel very alone in life, sometimes even when I am around other people. I don't feel like people see me as I truly am; but I know that that is because I don't often take the chance to share with people my authentic thoughts, feelings, and self. I guess I'm afraid that they'll reject me, or maybe something else. I do know for certain that I want to be my genuine self more often, and to let other people who seem like good folks see me as I am. 

I want you to know that your being a witness to my shared truth, and who I am, gives me something purely good that I could never get from a self-help book, Therapist, or a medicine (though those things do have their purpose). The very human ways we support each other here, in kind and caring words, feels like a medicine for my spirit. 

I'm thankful for this safe place to learn how to be less alone in my life. 

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