This is a special blog where Dorothy shares her personal story about her journey through addiction and grief. It is in remembrance of her son Michael Anthony Grant.
From early childhood, I was exposed to it…
The screaming, cursing, fighting, hiding in closets, barricading my bedroom door, surrounding my body with stuffed animals while I slept, as if to protect me. I was too young to understand why my Mother kept her bedroom door locked, alcohol and items of value hidden in various places, keys and money under her pillow; or why she cried herself to sleep.
Before puberty, I was experimenting with it…
Skipping school to drink while friend’s parents were at work, stealing cigarettes out of ashtrays, buying marijuana at the bus stop on my way to school, sneaking out at night to continue those daytime activities. My fifth grade teacher taught me the word “pathetic” for all the trouble I caused.
In adolescence, I was engulfed with it…
I was uncontrollable in behavior, drinking, or smoking weed. I moved from family member to family member, in and out of Detention Centers, Rehabs, Shelter homes, even a Boot camp. I had problems, I caused problems. I grew up fast.
As an adult, I battle with it…
I have been to parks to feed loved ones who didn’t have anywhere else to go. I have been through the life and death of overdoses of family and friends. I have watched loved ones slowly deteriorate until there is no more life left within them. I, myself, have gone through the DUI’s, Rehabs, support groups, and individual counseling. I face a lifetime struggle.
No one can prepare you for it. No one chooses it. One does not just wake up and say, “I want to be an addict today.” It is a life of turmoil and living hell.
Our son, Michael, began in his teenage years. As parents, we took action early. His first treatment center was at the age of 15. For years, he struggled. For years, we struggled with him. Where did we go wrong? What can we do to get him to stop? Oh, the endless questions and emotions. The feelings of insignificance, guilt, shame, anger, doubt, hurt, hope, love, denial, betrayal, and the fear were a constant companion.
My escape was the alcohol. Drinking became my way of life. Get up, go to work, come home, drink a 12 pack, go to bed; wake up only to do it all over again. My number one focus was drinking. I rarely missed work. I didn’t lie, cheat, or steal. That was justification enough for me.
On March 25, 2017 I agreed to go with my son’s girlfriend to a support group. My purpose was to support her in attendance and ask what is “enabling? Well, I left with no answer to my question and a very strong sense of loneliness. The first place we went afterwards was a bar. It was there the discussion arose, if I feel like this, how many others do? I can’t possibly be alone, right? Ironically, two other people within a 5’ radius struggled as well.
During the course of the next two days, I spoke to a few loved ones about how I was feeling. I expressed the desire to not only feel alone in my struggles, but also to help others know the same. H.E.A.L. was born in thought. Sunday evening, my daughter, simply said in full support, “Mom, it’s a great idea but you can’t do it drinking.” My husband said, “We will overcome whatever. Just get sober.”
Monday, March 27, 2017 I admitted myself to yet another rehabilitation center. On March 28, 2017 I was 100% without alcohol. Four months later on July 28, 2017 our child, Michael, was pronounced deceased of a drug overdose. Not even two weeks after experiencing his first drug overdose. At 26 years old, he lost the battle of addiction. His struggle has ended. Ours has not.
As a parent, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend of an addict and also as an addict, I know it is a process. Hoping against all hope that something will give and life will return to a somewhat normalcy. Experiencing the roller coaster of emotions and the merry-go-round of situations. Accepting my control over the occurring situation is limited. And loving no matter what because it is all I have to give.
Yet, we are not alone in this. We encounter similar situations, dynamics, trials, and emotions. The severity of each, we own individually. Without knowledge and experience found through other people, the comfort and support that can be provided amongst us, the acceptance of what we cannot completely control, and loving even though it hurts; we will continue on in an empty shell that will be only ours to bear.
It is never anticipated that someday I will “get it.” Nor will I have a sudden epiphany and my world will be alright again. I cannot state, regardless of knowing what I know, that I will not drink tomorrow. What I have is right here, right now. We don’t have to struggle alone. There is still hope to be had, experience to gain, acceptance to embrace, and love to give.