It's not like I thought the fight would be easy, but it never occurred to me that there was a chance I might not win. How was I ever going to beat the odds when I didn't even understand what it was that I was trying to beat? How was my family supposed to love and support me if they didn't have the slightest idea about what I was going through? Understanding each other is one of our greatest challenges. Our inability to relate creates an impermeable divide that grows deeper and wider with each passing day/week/month/year. In that divide, the seeds of resentment take root. They say that addiction is a family disease and this turns out to be true on many different levels. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that needed help; I wasn't the only one that needed guidance and support and education. My family's ignorance was equally as toxic as my own....if not more. As an addict, I learned quickly how to prey upon my family's weaknesses, how to manipulate their understanding of what they could do to "help"; I gave them the education that would best suit my needs and as a result-chaos ensued..
As I tour around New England with the Hungry Heart documentary (www.thehungryheartmovie.org), no matter what town I'm in, no matter the size of the community, no matter how rich or poor the residents, I have the same experience over and over and over again. Moms, Dads, siblings, grandparents, spouses etc., come to see the film in an attempt to better understand their addict....and to hear the secret formula for how to get them sober.
I've witnessed the desperation and despair this disease brings upon everyone it comes in contact with. I've looked into countless sets of eyes, drowning in sadness and fear, consumed by shame. I've spent hours at a time talking to family members, sharing the truth behind our struggle-the reality of what it's like to live with addiction, and explaining the difference between loving an addict and enabling them.
There is nothing simple or easy about addiction and each of us experience a hell unlike any other, but we share many of the same truths as well. All of the information I share is based on personal experience. I am an expert of my own making. I've worked hard to relieve myself of the shame that consumed me for so long and the result of that work is demonstrated here; in my willingness to share my experiences in an open and honest way. I do not censor myself when it comes to sharing the truth about what I've seen; the hell I survived, because I refuse to let addiction win. Addiction wins when we allow our shame to silence us. Addiction wins when we live in ignorance, when we continue to blame one another for being "less than". Addiction wins when we cannot see outside of our own experiences.
This is an ongoing project. Over time, I will address a list of questions (or topics) that I'm asked on a regular basis by "loved ones"--they will cover the basics. However, if you have a specific question or are interested in hearing about something in particular that I have yet to cover, please feel free to ask or make suggestions. Ask anything. This is not a subject that I'm afraid to talk about-I believe it serves no one to sugarcoat the truth, so speak your mind freely and openly and I pledge to do the same. It is not dramatic to say that people's lives are at stake here, and we've got a hell of a lot of work to do....so let's get started!