If I live as long as my mom did, I only have 10 years left.
This sounds kind of dark doesn’t it? But it’s eerily true. I will be 45 this August and my mom lived to be 55.
There is something about a parent’s death that lights a fire under your ass, so to speak.
Whenever I go to the doctor and fill out the forms about our family’s history, I have to check boxes for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, but does that mean I am destined to struggle in those ways too?
I have broken a long cycle of addictive patterns, generational trauma (I still carry the weight of some of it), and abuse. From a young age, I worked hard to eat a healthy diet and stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs. I exercised. I stopped eating fast food or drinking soda. I eliminated sugar and caffeine, for the most part. I try to clear emotional baggage. I’ve spent years in therapy and yoga. You name it, I’ll try it if it has the promise of health and well-being.
Does that mean I am in the clear health-wise? I hope so. I wish that were true. I know we don’t just get sick because of toxic living conditions—diet and exercise play a huge part. Unfortunately, our days are numbered and we are not in control of the outcome. None of us will get out of this alive, as they say, but there is a lot to be said for quality of life.
I came from a family who said drinking makes us happy. We will drink and be “happy,” and we will die happy. That wasn’t the case. Alcoholism is an insidious disease that likes to sell people on the happiness factor, but instead delivers hangovers, lost jobs, crashed cars, liver disease, and suicide.
It is tragic when men and women are beat down by alcohol; a drink that can trick people into believing it makes them feel happy.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous promises its members a life of feeling, “Happy, joyous, and free.”
After 23 years of sobriety—even though I am not happy, joyous, or free all of the time—I’ve had glimmers, but I’m not dead, and I’ll take it.
My kids have never seen me drink, drunk, or hungover. I can drive them places and tell them I love them. They have never witnessed domestic abuse or been afraid of me in a blackout. I remember everything (mostly everything) I say, and I hold true to commitments.
I told my son that if he’s in therapy when he’s older (inevitably), I hope he tells his therapist that he always knew he was loved. That when I say I love you, he feels it in his heart—not just words. That he feels a connection and feels loved by his mother and father. I hope and pray he won’t have that hole and void I have carried around.
The deepest pain is feeling unwanted as a child; trust me, I’m still recovering from it.
Knowing I have 10 years until I am the age when my mother died is a good thing. It makes me want to be better, do more. I want to see more. I want to experience more. I want a big life. Not a small one. I want to make the most of these next 10 years and beyond.
I want to make myself proud. I want to make my deceased family proud. I want to break this goddamn cycle, and let this darkness and pain end with me. If I can do that, it was all worth it.