Once again, the universe is knocking on my door. Hello, it’s me again.
This time by way of a post on addiction, alcohol to be exact that stirred up a memory I haven’t thought about in years, 10 to be precise. Our minds are complex places.
The memory is of my sister-in-law and her untimely death due to her prolonged use of alcohol. Her story, like everyone’s, is complicated. The big gray area does exist.
Her name was Debbie, she was 51 years young.
My first impression of Debbie was that she was beautiful, intelligent, fun, creative, and talented. She loved her baby brother very much, and she shared a birthday with my sister. A winner.
As we got to know each other better, I realized something was off, but not having any experience with alcoholism, I just thought she was a bitch. I was naive, and everyone around her was in denial.
I learned that when their mother died suddenly at 48 years old, Debbie was in the middle of a typical mother/daughter squabble, and they were not on speaking terms. Forgiveness also died that day.
Debbie and her siblings were grieving the loss of their mother individually, being left with a disabled father in disbelief and not much help. Two siblings had spouses for support, and three were left to their own devices. Grief is a complex emotion, and this was a recipe for disaster.
All three chose alcohol as the device to numb the ache. One escaped. One continues his imaginary competition with Keith Richards, and Debbie, wearing an anchor of guilt for two decades, was found dead in the melting snow 10 years ago this week. Free at last.
As I said, Debbie was intelligent and creative, two skills that come in handy when you’re keeping a secret of this magnitude from the world around you. Keeping it alive is another story.
Living a lie every dang day had to be exhausting. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with the responsibilities expected of me while strategically contemplating how I will sneak in a drink and keep my act together throughout the day. That is no joke; it’s a full-time job.
I know she wasn’t the first or the last to juggle this lifestyle. We’re only human.
Over the years, her intelligence and creativity grew exhausted, while the disease grew arrogant, insisting on vodka in her coffee, leaving the creamer on the curb. Acceptance? Blind eyes? Both?
As with everyone in her life, we grew frustrated trying to help someone who was not ready to receive the offers. She was in her own way.
Correction, she was ashamed, and shame is a powerful emotion. Seducing her with lies quietly convincing her she was worthless while blocking love like a linebacker. Vodka was her helmet.
So, we made excuses to justify the behavior and make ourselves feel better. Talk about creativity.
- She’s only hurting herself.
- She’s a functioning alcoholic.
- She’ll know when to stop.
- It’s not like she’s sitting in a bar all day.
- The list goes on …
After two turbulent marriages, endless lost opportunities, burnt bridges, and too many stints in rehab, the secret was sitting center stage, not Debbie, and it showed. You can only fall down so many times, literally, before surrendering or succumbing.
According to the coroner, she “succumbed” to her disease, alcoholism.
We are ALL worthy of being the best version of ourselves.
If you are suffering, please ask for help. There is no judgment. Make the call.
Do it for Debbie ❤
Alcoholics Anonymous — 800-839-1986.
Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am sorry.”