When coming from a family that has an addicted parent, some of the children tend to want to “fix” all things in life. Their life, other’s lives, it doesn’t matter, they just want to rush in and fix things. They need control of things to feel they can survive. And planning… well.. it’s essential to being able to make it through a day. Where does this seed, that can grow into a huge tree after years of getting fueled come from? Let me take you to a place most of you may not have ever seen. Open your heart, your mind, and yourself to be this child. This one child in the world.
Peaceful sleep. Little girl. Screaming awakens! She is scared. So very scared. She either heads to her eldest sister’s room or makes her way to her parents. If choosing her parents she would be witnessing screaming, and the chance of harm. One parent taking more than they should endure, just to keep the children safe. She would feel the fear rush through her bones! Sometimes crying, whimpering, but it was as if she didn’t exist at the same time. They were busy arguing. Loud. So very loud. It was probably for the best that the attention was no on her. Eldest sister became a comfort.
Waiting in the dark corners to make the “get away.” The rush to the car, their cradle for the night. She lay awake, looking out the front windshield at the starry sky. Resting her head on her mother’s lap and her feet on her eldest sister. It wasn’t just three, two more asleep in the back. Sometimes sleeping what was left of the night in old deserted farmstead. hard to fall asleep, so she would look out the other window, there was a silo. It always looked like it was falling on the car. It always made her tummy feel funny. She knows this is her norm. She knows nothing else. Fear. Sadness. Screaming. Anger. Ignored. Loved. Lost. That’s what she feels and sees as she attempts to sleep. School the next day you know.
Daylight is coming. Quietly wandering into the house, the residue of the addiction still around. The view of bottles and beer cans, perhaps the addicted parent sleeping it off on the couch. Tip toe. Tip toe. Quietly going to her bedroom, time to put on clean clothes, the school bus will be here soon. Time to go on as if nothing had happened. Time to act like a strong little person. Don’t talk about it. No No… Shhhh Shhhhh.
The life, this little girl lived, it could have been worse. There are many children in worse situations, there are families broken and bruised. There’s always someone who has it worse than I, that’s what I say. It’s true, but it matters. It matters what happened. It matters how I work through it. It matters that I forgive. It matters that it’s acknowledged. It matters that it’s built-in me a capacity to empathize with those less fortunate than I.
I’m not addicted to alcohol or drugs. I suppose I’m a success story in a way since I came from an alcoholic home. But honestly, there’s more than one reason I don’t drink alcohol. One is due to a medical condition and another is because if I find myself in a darker than normal mood, I will continue to desire the dark liquid that makes the hurt go away temporarily. Whether it’s from what I grew up with, whether it’s in my genes, whatever the case, I’m better for not drinking. My family is better for it too, it’s not worth the risk that lies within my gene pool. It doesn’t bother me to be around others that partake, in fact my husband does on occasion. My desire for it isn’t strong to that degree. I only know what’s best for me and that is it.
Choices that were made in my life for me as a child resulted in me learning some hard lessons in adult life. I didn’t make the best choices, but I learned from each one of them. I look back at generations before my parents and see that each generation is a product of not just DNA, but of the circumstances they were raised in. Each of those things creates in us who we are.
One of those “things” is the desire to want to control, fix, and care for others. Wrap that combination together and sometimes, even my closest family members, think I’m being bossy or leader of the pack wanna be. Going from being a scared little girl to a confused angry teen that desired attention to replace the things she didn’t receive when young, to a person I hope is kinder, more patient, more empathetic. I like to think the caring for others has exceeded the controlling in me by this stage. That the caring will trump the controlling any day of the week. I still fail at times, but I still try to do better too. I haven’t given up. I haven’t quit.
So, my advice to you, if you don’t mind me telling you, when you see that kid that seems like they are acting out, extremely fearful, attitude filled, or a super people pleaser, take a moment to look deeper. Take a moment to see if they need you. If they need someone to calm the fears, lighten their load, listen a moment, or allow them to play. Even when their “norm” is chaos, if you feel in your gut they need something, acknowledge it. The little girl in the above story, she asks you as well.
Grace is a gift,