Support Beats Addiction, My Mom Would Say
I’d wait for my mother to fall asleep. A bit past midnight and in between the silence, I would sneak my way out of the room, shot glass in hand. We lived behind a bakery — my mother’s third attempt at a business — and in that small shop we sold various breads and pastries. Among which had a special ingredient, at least special enough for me: Rum. I’d sit at the bottom of the shelf where we’d keep stocks of bottled inventories and pour myself an almost full shot. Just enough to take some heat but not so much that the content of the bottle would be visibly seen as decreased. I didn’t do this every night. Only on occasions when my own stash of cheap gin behind my clothes in the closet had dried up. But nonetheless, there was immediate guilt. I would take the back of my palm and smudge away the taste from my mouth as if I could undo it. I’d wash my shot glass and brush my teeth and go back to bed. To this day, I wonder if my mom ever noticed or how much rum cake we missed out on baking.
Amidst my battle with alcohol, among other things, I had a difficult conversation with my mother at some point in time. I told her I was lonely. Sitting on the couch, in full attention, she asked me why.
“I feel alone. There is nobody.”
To which she replied, “Then what are we here for? What am I here for?”
I can’t say I came to my senses right then and there. There were many more demons and battles I had to overcome and it was definitely an uphill battle. I had to read a lot about addiction and alcoholism in my journey to recovery, and this was years and years of working on myself as an adolescent and into adulthood. But to this day, I believe that my journey to recovery started with that one conversation with my mother.
We always say that in order to better ourselves, we must want to. Change starts from within. We must want to help ourselves. And while all this is true, one thing we should also talk about is support. Addiction in any form starts with a lack of support from the environment we are in. While seeking help and reaching out for that support starts from us, those who want to get better, those who want to recover, it is also our responsibility to check in and give the same support we are seeking to those who are unable to, for whatever reason.
While I personally owe a lot of it from my mother, support can come from any which way. We can seek it and we can give it. It may not come from a mother, or a shrink. It may come from a friend, a sister, a husband, a partner, a dog, a stranger. It may come from your weekly conversations with your grocery attendant or your monthly visit to your barber. But just like my mom, don’t be afraid to have that difficult conversation. Don’t be afraid to be there for someone because your support could, believe it or not, save lives.
I am now in my 30s and have been alcohol-free for more than a year and a half. I was 16 when I was crouched down in the dark drinking my cheap gin and stolen rum. I never would have made it if it weren’t for my mother.
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