“Where might my daughter be now if fate, or genes, had been kinder to her? Now, several years into her illness, I am coming to terms with the terrible legacy that began generations ago in my own family and which I have unwittingly passed on to my daughter. All these years I’ve diligently searched for answers, clarity, and solace in the face of terrible pain. Like a gift from the universe, it has come to me slowly, and it is with me now. But it’s been a hard won victory.
I liken the effect addiction has on families to a bomb exploding in the living room with everyone nearby. The shrapnel hits us all in different places; none of us is left untouched, though some may be wounded more than others. Some even ignore the explosion or block it out as the insidious effects of addiction take root in these bewildered individuals.
What happens when a bomb drops anywhere? Doesn’t everybody run for cover? That’s what happened in my family. Angie’s brother and sister got out of the way as much as possible—a healthy response, I suppose—shrapnel wounds can be pretty dreadful. It broke my heart to see them pull away from their sister. But now Angie was so isolated in her family. And so began the long journey, Angie’s father’s and mine, of carrying her, much of the time, on our backs.” ~excerpt from my award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero, available on Amazon
I got an email from my old friend in Virginia whose son is a heroin addict. His sisters have nothing to do with him anymore. It breaks my heart to see the same thing happening in her family, and yet it’s very common. Families are swallowed whole into the belly of the Beast, spit out pieces at a time. Everyone is affected, and though people may try to deny the existence of a problem, or try running and hiding, there is no way to escape the effects of addiction.
Al-Anon and Naranon provide education, compassion, and tools to learn to live with this growing epidemic. We are not alone; we are no longer isolated. Addiction is everywhere. No more shame. No more silence.