During my daughter’s 7-year battle with addiction, many people suggested that I seek help for myself. That this was too much for me to handle alone. “Katie, you should really go to a support group, or talk to a therapist”. At first, I really resisted. Are you kidding me? Who has time for that!! “She’s the one with the problem, not me”. “How can I focus on me, when my daughter is dying before my eyes?!”.
At this point, only a few close friends and immediate family knew about Brittany’s struggles. It’s just not something you talk about it. When people would ask about how she was doing, sometimes I felt I needed to protect her from the stigma and judgment. And honestly, did they REALLY want to know? Or was it just good gossip?
So, I kept it to myself for much too long.
I was always a very happy, upbeat, energetic person. Music on loud in the car, dancing around the house, I LOVED life. I was a morning person, super motivated, organized and half my day was done by 10am. I loved to ride my bike for miles, having dinner with lifelong friends, and entertaining at our home.
I found myself losing who I once was.
Most days it was very hard to get out of bed. I had to really force myself. I would put on that fake happy face, make my youngest daughters lunch for school, drive her to the bus stop, big kiss on the cheek, “Have a great day honey!!”. Then I would drive home and go back to bed. When it was time to pick her up, I would hurry and shower, fluff my hair, smidge of lipstick, back was the fake happy smile. ”How was your day honey?!”.
I gained weight and stopped riding my bike. Wrinkles appeared. When I drove my car, I didn’t put music on anymore. The car was silent. I was lost in my own thoughts…grieving for my daughter, although she was alive, I was mentally preparing for her funeral. I pulled away from friends…I just didn’t want to be around anyone.
Sirens made me jump. The sound of my phone ringing put me into a panic. I would go on Facebook to see when the last time my daughter was on, just to be sure she was ok. Watching the news made me cry.
Actually, everything made me cry.
Then, one day, I think I lost it. Some may call it a mental breakdown. I really don’t know how or why it happened on that particular day.
I just know I snapped.
I was on the phone with my husband John and flipped out. I can’t even tell you why, I have NO idea. And I went CRAZY. Screaming, crying….I went into a full blown panic attack. I told him I couldn’t do this life anymore. It was just too much. Then I got in my car and just drove. I drove and drove and drove. I remember it was pouring rain out and at one point, I had looked down at a light and I was still in my slippers.
My cell phone kept ringing. John was calling nonstop. I couldn’t answer. I JUST WANTED TO BE LEFT ALONE. Then my mom started calling. Then my brother. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!!! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!
John left work and somehow found me. I had pulled over into a grocery store parking lot. I think I was in shock. I could barely talk. I was in a blank zone of absolute despair. I didn’t want my LIFE to be over, I just wanted the PAIN gone.
My husband is amazing. He really is. He saved me that day. No one really knows this story. But writing about it now, although I’m in tears once again, I think is healing me.
It was then I realized I really needed help. I had to be better for my husband, my children, and myself.
I started going to some support groups for families of addicts. It was there that I found ACCEPTANCE. I wasn’t alone anymore!!! These people UNDERSTOOD. I was free to talk, without being judged. I learned so much, became strong again. It was like we were in this secret club. A club none of us wanted to belong to, but yet had VIP membership. Bonds were formed with strangers, sisterhoods developed. I started to be able to breathe again.
The music was turned back on.