I normally blog about the lighter side of my life, but today I need to express my frustration, my anger, and my deep sadness. I am an emotional roller coaster of emotion the last few days, and I am a wreck.
A couple of days ago my niece was admitted to hospital. Overnight her condition worsened and she was placed into the intensive care unit (ICU). Late into the evening the next day she was flown to the University Hospital in Edmonton after her condition continued to deteriorate to the point that she required life support. It didn’t need to be this way.
She is in her thirties.
She is a mother.
She is a wonderful person with a bright smile and a kind heart.
She is an alcoholic.
My frustration stems from feeling helpless. My anger is from wishing she had made better choices, and my sadness, is acknowledging that she is powerless against the disease, which is alcoholism. This is a disease that is preventable. And it only makes life look hopeless.
Alcoholism has plagued my family for as long as I can remember. The difficulty for me is watching while my family wage their personal battles with alcoholism . The battle is sometimes won, but not always. The battle continues as they fall victim to it again and again. It is one day-at-a-time practice and the goal being to never give up on sobriety because there is always hope and a new beginning. There is always another day, never give up.
There must be so much pain. When did all the pain begin? Was it because of residential schools? Was it the loss of our indigenous language and traditional lifestyle? Is it intergenerational trauma? Did it escalate after we tried to mask the pain, which created more pain? Did it have to do with racism? Low self-esteem? When will it end?
I admit that I don’t understand it. I don’t appreciate what it's like to walk in their shoes. I don’t know what it feels like to crave that drink in spite of what it means and how it will impact us and the people we love most.
What I do know is that it's not a fight you take on alone. The truth is people are hurting and in pain. A pain that is hidden behind smiles and laughter. A supportive loving and compassionate system is the only chance to win this battle. It takes a community. Family. Friends. People who can help you face the difficult truth.
Most importantly you must love unconditionally. And by that I mean you need to demonstrate your love not by encouraging them to join in the “party” thinking that after "a few" you'll not be hurting anyone. But rather by being there for them when they are sober. Being there for them when they are weak. Being there to listen. And being there to say the hard truth while letting them know that their life holds value.
|In happier times!|
Still, either way, if you have this problem, I challenge you to make a commitment to her that you won’t follow her into the lifestyle that had her in her prime end up in the hospital fighting for her life. If you can do that, perhaps her tragedy will not have been in vain. The cycle of alcohol and drug abuse, including prescription drugs, must end.
Follow Up April 3, 2012I am pleased to write that she is living a great life without alcohol. Life is not easy, but without alcohol she has one less complication. Newly engaged, and enjoying everyday, feeling blessed, and is making the best of her second chance in life. She has two beautiful grandchildren. Living life and helping out with her mom who has dementia.
When you see her, give her a hug and let her know she is loved.