Being born to two parents who are open to trying nearly any drug on the planet can be a very unique experience. You see a lot of things that appear normal to you, until you spend time elsewhere and see just how dysfunctional your family really is. You do have some hard choices to make, however. It is important that you learn early on that you are your own person, and do not have to follow in the footsteps of the role models around you growing up.
Seeing Reality for What it Really Is
It may be fun when you are little to see your parents acting goofy. You don’t know that what they are doing is wrong. That’s how life was for me. Every night my parents would sit out in our garage and their attitudes would often change from one night to the next. One night they were laughing very loudly at every little thing, which was hilarious to me, but the next night they would be sullen and appear exhausted. I learned by my fifth birthday how to help them when they were sleepy. I also learned how to make food for myself, which didn’t require the use of the stove. I was proud of my talents, but I didn’t know that I shouldn’t have had to live like that.
Once I went to school and found out that life was really different for other people, I started to see my parents differently. Their acting goofy wasn’t about them having fun or being tired. I started asking questions to them and other family members and started to learn more about what was really going on. After I moved out of their house and went to live with my grandparents, I was really able to see what a healthy reality should look like.
Making Choices that Put Myself First
When I was old enough to understand the disease that had encapsulated my parents since before I was born, I had to make some pretty heavy choices. I had to decide if what seemed normal growing up was what I wanted for myself, or if I wanted more out of life than night after night in a garage with a fridge of beer, a dealer on speed dial, and a cigarette in my hand. I made the choice to walk away from all things drug-related, legal and otherwise. It wasn’t easy, especially when it was considered normal by the majority of my family, but it was what I had to do.
I started learning more about the effects of addiction so that I could prepare myself for what was likely to come for my parents. I talked to them about what I’d learned, but they sloughed it off. I now know that the health risks they are soon destined to face are going to be difficult, and they are likely going to need my help to take care of themselves. Since I am an only child, I have to decide if I can be there to help, or if I need to put my own life first.
It took me taking a step back and realizing that the example I was given growing up was not one I wanted to follow. I had to create my own path. I started that path through educating myself about addiction, and I am continuing that path now by reaching out to others who are in similar places in life. I learned a lot from my parents about what type of role model I want to be for my own children. I also learned that just because all I saw was addiction from them, it did not mean that I was destined to follow in their footsteps. It was and still is my choice.
BreeAnn Russ is a mother to seven children, a wife, an entrepreneur and business-owner, writer, and a survivor. After going through some very rough moments in life, she shares her experiences with others so they may learn the lessons in an easier fashion than she had to. If sharing even one event in her life spares someone else, she wholly believes it is worth her time and effort.