Hi, My Name is Darlene. I am the Mother of an Alcoholic.
My mother is hands down the strongest woman I know. I recently asked her to write a blog post for It's A Lush Life from the perspective of a mother who has lost a son to the disease of alcoholism/addiction and a of a mother of an alcoholic in recovery. From the moment I decided to get help to now, 16 months later, she has been my biggest supporter. She has never been embarrassed or ashamed. She has been eager to learn more about the disease to promote awareness in hopes that other families will not have to endure what ours has gone through. Here is what my sweet mother had to say...
Hi, my name is Darlene and I’m the mother of an alcoholic. I knew little or nothing about alcoholism or addictions until my son, Will, passed away on April 22, 2012. I’ve wondered a thousand times since if things could have happened differently if I had been more educated. If I had known then what I know now, could his death have been prevented? I’ll never know the answer, at least not on this side of heaven. Will’s disease progressed from drinking too much beer to abusing his own prescriptions, to pain killers. Until a few short months before his death, all we knew about was that he drank too much.
We had realized for a while that my daughter, Allison, was drinking too much also, though she did a good job of hiding from us the extent of her problem. One day a few weeks after Will died, I tried to have a conversation with her about her drinking. She told me she was fine. She said, “I don’t drink every day, but when I do, I just overdo it.” That was like a punch in the gut to me, because Will had said the exact same words to me less than a year before. I knew I couldn’t let this go, but still didn’t know how to handle it. We were all still reeling from losing Will, the third of our four children. I just knew something had to be done, because we couldn’t let this happen to Allison, too.
On June 10, 2012, Will would have turned 30. My brother had begun a ministry in Will’s memory, aimed primarily at helping people with addictions. On Will’s 30th birthday, at our farm we held a big outdoor celebration of his life, and the kick-off of Live Forever Ministries. As the afternoon went on, I could tell Allison was drinking. My first reaction was irritation, even a little anger. Why couldn’t she get through this one afternoon without drinking? By the time the event was winding down, my son had to help her to our guest house, where she was spending the night. A little later, my son-in-law went to check on her and talked to her about her drinking. When everything was over, I stopped in to make sure she was ok. I went to bed that night praying. I knew we had to have “the conversation” first thing in the morning. I also knew it was going to be a confrontation. I am just about the most non-confrontational person you will ever meet, so even the idea of bringing it up was nerve-wracking. I prayed for courage to have the talk with Allison. I prayed for wisdom and guidance to know the right words to say. And I prayed that God would save her from continuing down this destructive path she was on.
Imagine my shock and gratefulness when she came to our bedroom the next morning before we were even up and announced that she was going home and find a rehab facility! How awesome is our God?!! He handled the entire situation for me! This was Monday morning, June 11, 2012, now known to us as Allison’s sobriety date, her sober birthdate. By Thursday, Allison, her dad and I were on the way to Hope Valley, where she spent the next 28 days. I can’t say enough about the staff there, and the setting was a peaceful country farmhouse. I’m still amazed at how far she progressed during those four weeks.
When it was time for her to come home, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. How would she adjust, being back in the real world, with all its’ emphasis on alcohol as a big part of everyday life? She lives an hour away from us, so I couldn’t be there every day to keep tabs on her. Then I realized that God had brought her this far, I could trust Him to help her carry on.
The past 15 months have been an answer to my prayers. We have literally watched a miracle unfolding. Our happy, fun-loving daughter and sister is back! She no longer dodges family time together, and finds joy in everyday things again. The fact that she is sharing her story and her journey shows me how much God is influencing her. Allison has always been an extremely private person when it comes to her emotions. For her to put it all out there for everyone to see is amazing! We have seen so much spiritual growth in her.
I realize that recovery is an ongoing process and the alcoholic or addict has to take one day at a time. If someone you love needs help or is in recovery, do everything in your power to support him or her, every step of the way. Understand that they don’t want to be this way. They don’t mean to keep hurting their family and friends. It isn’t a matter of “knowing better” or “being too smart to go down that path”. Educate yourself! There are so many resources available. I feel guilty that I didn’t learn more in time to help Will. No family should have to lose someone they love to alcohol or drugs. My family will never stop loving or missing Will, but we continue to get stronger and we will continue to support Allison every step of her journey. And we will thank God for His grace, for peace and comfort, and for giving us strength to carry on.
I am so proud of Allison! Her courage and strength are amazing! Her passion to educate and help others who are struggling is inspiring. I’m sorry that she has had to go through the struggles of alcoholism, but all that has happened has made her the person she is today and I am excited to see all that God has in store for her for the future.