Thursday, September 26, 2013

When I was 9

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Ya know, when I was 9 my mom worked for an older guy named Abe and I got to tag along.  He'd smoked his lungs into a couple of tar bags that didn't work real well and so my mother, who is a respiratory therapist came to his house each morning to hook him up to some kind of breathing machine.  The machine sounded like Darth Vader trying to run a 10k.  Abe sat in his faded chair, and he told cool old stories about wars and falling through the ice of a lake and 10 cent milk shakes, but only after Darth Vader finished it's race.

Abe loved marmalade. Or maybe he was just a creature of habit because everyday my mom would start a load of laundry and then make Abe a marmalade sandwich.  Abe is the only reason that as an adult, I try to like marmalade.

But the thing I remember most about Abe, was the day I helped my mom carry the laundry down the stairs to the apartment's community washroom.  A sock fell out of the basket, so I picked it up and about a pound of some fine white powder fell out of the sock into a perfect little ant hill.

"Mom, what is this?"

"It's dead skin."

Dead skin!  Wow!  I had no idea an old man could lose so much dead skin from his foot.  Fascinating.

My daughter was 9 when she felt the heaviness of terrible things in our home.  She's 11 now.  I was so scared for her and at a loss of what to do.  Should we tell her?  Should we keep it quiet?  Should I lie to her?  What should I do?  Should I just tell her stories about war and 10 cent milkshakes?  As any parent knows, when heaviness enters our homes our children feel it and suffer from it regardless of whether we tell them or not.

We chose to tell her.

And so, at a time when I was listening to Darth Vader and worried about dead skin socks my daughter was burdened with hard things.  We will all choose what is best for our kids.  Many of us are making impossible decisions and sometimes choosing the less of two evils.  But this is something I have seen in my daughter and I am certain she is not unlike all of your own kids.

She is strong.  She can understand heavy things.  She is incredibly resilient.  She reflects my own attitude. She is loving.  She is forgiving.  She can set boundaries. She has learned valuable life lessons.  She is open. She can listen to her own heart.  She is aware.  She is empathetic and pure.

And contrary to the belief of the world, she isn't broken.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your decision to tell your daughter with us, April. My husband is so afraid to tell the kids about his addiction. He's deathly afraid that because he's their stepdad they will lose respect for him. (He's recently been diagnosed with SLA too. i.e. serious abandonment and inclusion issues). However, I chose to tell my kids that I was in a 12-step program once I reached my 9th step so I could make a proper amends to them. I expected them to be shocked or disappointed. Instead, they were proud and excited for me. My daughter was 13 at the time and had some questions that I answered. It feels good being able to tell my kids I'm going to meetings or taking a program call. You're right, they are very resilient.

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    1. It's totally scary to be so raw with our little people. And I get being worried about what our kids will think of us. You have such an amazing story...and I have no doubt your kids were so proud of you! You've done amazing things!

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  2. Thanks Scabs for sharing. My son is 10 now. Ive shared with him certain things about our situation. He just needed to know. My son is learning to have better boundaries than he ever had before. Hes learning to have people treat him better. I grew up with addiction but didn't know what was really wrong until Ive been learning as an adult. I think it is better our kids know. It gives them them knowledge.

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    1. I really think that if we are really listening to our hearts we will know when, where, how and what to tell our kids and it sounds like you are doing this. My daughter was the same way, she just needed to know. My son, not yet.

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  3. Thanks for sharing :) Our kids wondered why we were always going to meetings each week, so Mr. Sparrow told them of his other addiction...food. I told them I was a co-dependent and what that meant and then talked about the 12 steps meetings. We both felt we shouldn't tell them about the porn, for reasons I cannot share and it's been the best option for us.

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    1. That makes sense. we always need to do what feels right for our families. And i think its great that you started the conversations about addiction and behavior.

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  4. I think secrets in families can fuel further addictions. When the time is right we will tell our children everything. They know dad goes to meetings to become a better dad and we are working on getting stronger. Showing our imperfection is what makes us human. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yeah, I have a bad gut feeling about secrets. Best of luck to you in telling your kids when the time is right. It's a hard thing to do but i can't help but feel like its the right thing to do.

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  5. explaining is the best thing you can do.
    no one did explain it to me at the time xx

    dreaming is believing

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    1. Thank you everyone. There was something that told me I couldn't keep her in the dark and so I held her hand and we learned together and are healing together.

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  6. I told my kids about my addiction earlier this year. They are 9 and 8, and not broken. I think it was a great decision. I tell my kids secrets are harmful, and so I decided to stop keeping them myself. They're a part of my family and I affect them with my choices even if they're not with me when I make those choices. It's a tough decision to make. Nice job with making a tough decision!

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    1. I agree. It seems like the truth is the only real option we have, right?

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