There is Power in Sharing Our Struggle

You always think your life is so much different than everyone else until you start to open up and share your struggles with those around you… and from there, you realize you’re not alone. Just like so many others, my family has kept a secret for the longest time… praying every night and hoping that in the morning when we woke up, it was all a dream… But our family struggle wasn’t a dream. It was painful and ongoing battle that left us feeling hopeless and unsure of what was going to happen next..

I am the youngest of 4 kids, all 1 year apart with parents who have been together for over 35 years, through it all.. I am blessed to have such a beautiful family that cares endlessly for one another… My mom is the most caring, compassionate, fun, loving, energetic, vibrant and heart-filled human being that I have ever met in my entire life.. But everyday for nearly 30 years, with a few years of sobriety in between, my mom struggled to fight her addiction to alcohol.

As a family, it was so hard to comprehend. Why was Mom doing this to us? Why couldn’t Mom just stop drinking? She has such a beautiful family and a husband who adores her, why is it so hard for her to see that she was destroying us? After 25 years, I finally decided I wanted to figure out from an educational stand point why my mom was doing what she was doing… After dropping her off at her 4th rehab, I went home that day and felt broken.. Every bit of my heart hurt and all I could think was here we go again. She’s done this so many times, why would this time be any different? That day, feeling hopeless with tears in my eyes, I came across an opportunity to sign up for a 13 month CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor) class.. I didn’t really know how it would go or what I was getting myself into… but the following week I walked through the doors of a course that changed my life. I didn’t “get it” because I myself have never struggled with addiction…. but what I did “get” was that my Moms recovery was her choice and something she would undergo when she was ready to surrender. I learned that my mom wasn’t doing what she was doing to hurt me or to hurt our family… that my Mom’s addiction was greater than she was and it was truly a disease. I have hated the word “disease” my entire life and I never thought it applied to substance abuse… but I watched the disease of alcoholism take over my moms life… and everyday, I watched my mom hurting inside and out because of the destruction it has done to her and to our family.

Fast forward 5 years to a few more relapses, a lot of tears, a lot of pain, in and out of the hospital multiple times, two near death experiences but still attached to family that would never give up on her… We knew that the disease of the alcoholism was temporarily greater than my mom but we weren’t going to let it take her life. My sister Meghan and I have been involved with The Herren Project for the last few years and have heard Chris Herren speak on multiple occasions. On February 7th 2018, my mom decided that this time was real and she was ready to surrender. Oddly enough, Chris was presenting at a local high school and with no pressure from her family, my mom decided she would attend and hear his story of how he overcame his own substance abuse battle. Chris mentioned he was opening up a treatment center the following month and sure enough, my mom committed to her recovery and stepped foot on those grounds the day it opened. At Herren Wellness, they didn’t just run my mom through the 12 steps of a 28 day program. They customized a treatment plan and approached her recovery with the root of discovering her WHY in life. They empowered her, they supported her, and they took her in and out of her comfort zones which constantly made her dig deeper in her recovery pushing past the limits that she had set so long ago. My mom left Herren Wellness limitless, refreshed and on a new journey of sobriety.

Proud is an understatement and I have learned very fast that stigmas are stupid. My siblings and I have our mom back and my dad has his wife back. We spent so many years trying to hide the life we lived due to this disease… but now, it’s out in the open and I hope that with our family sharing our story, we can help someone else.. My mom is my rock and her strength and dedication in her recovery keeps me inspired everyday.. Together, we can. One person, one family.