The funniest thing happened today. My dad collected me at 11.30 to go and visit the new addition to the family, who is currently in neonatal intensive care. On the way home we had a good chat about uni, work and my blog. Dad asked if I had written anything recently and I said no. He then said I should keep writing and I told him it’s not as easy as that. Something needs to happen to me. I didn’t think I would be writing today, tomorrow or even this month.
Here I am, a few hours later. Frantically arranging my thoughts and words to deliver a story that is only possible because of my dad. Infact, he is still at my home as I type and has no idea that I am feeling so fortunate to have him and his experience as a part of my life.
Let’s begin. I will put this blog into context hopefully in a few short sentences. We got home from the hospital and I had a quick browse on twitter, I came across a tweet that indicated addiction is a choice and not deserving of sympathy. That is ok. I know, there is so much wrong with so much of the world, and to be consumed by all of this, is impossible. We only have so many fucks to give about what we chose (I swore, forgive me J). As a child of addicts, a 17year period of living day in, day out with heroin users and 11years of being a close part of recovery…. I feel I am experienced in understanding addiction, being a part of addiction and overcoming addiction. This is not a blog to say that a person, who believes that a person who has lost their life to an overdose does not deserve sympathy, is wrong. This is to consider where I sit on the sympathy scale and to discuss my experiences and reasons that sit behind this.
Firstly, I have an issue with anybody who throws around “no sympathy” for people/addicts/prisoners etc when the people in question have never asked for sympathy. Everybody has sympathy for some kind of cause, one that is personal to you or I. That is fine. I have sympathy for some people/situations and other things, I don’t. I certainly wouldn’t be using a death of any kind to be saying “no sympathy for that” simply because it’s not a cause that I support. Also, the person who lost their life never even bloody asked for sympathy anyway.
So, I then considered this word “sympathy” and even though I can sympathise and empathise greatly due to my own life history, I know that I have never encountered a person addicted to drugs, who wants, likes or asks for sympathy. I’ve met many addicts throughout my life and I still know people, talk to people and engage with people often, who are addicted to drugs. The sympathy I have for people comes from personal experience and my interactions with people is not sympathetic, “I feel so sorry for you” but it is compassionate. You don’t have to sympathise, that is rightly so, your call however compassion should be used in every interaction, every conversation and every internal thought process. My own hope for this writing is that its read, absorbed and the word ‘sympathy’ and even the act or process of sympathising or not, is replaced with some compassionate thinking, talking and acting. I completely understand that for many, sympathising with a person who is a drug addict may be difficult or unachievable. Feeling sorry for a person who lost their life due to a drug over dose, also, for many people might be hard to do however if said person who sadly lost their life has never asked you to sympathise, you don’t bloody have too!!!!!!!!!
In my teenage years I was embarrassed of my parents. My life was horrendous. As a child I was living with family during rehab stays, separated from my sisters. Rehab was over and we were all back sofa surfing a living with other drug addicted families. Life was bleak. I’ve been put in danger, witnessed drug use, taken drugs accidently as a child and almost witnessed my own mother die of an over dose. If you had asked me at 17 years old to be compassionate or sympathise with my addicted parents, I would have laughed in your face and told you they chose to do what they do.
Fast forward to today. I have a much more appropriate response. Of course I can sympathise with anybody addicted to drugs. Becoming an addict is not a choice. Addiction does not allow for any kind of rational choice, that a person who isn’t suffering from addiction is afforded to make. Suffering, being the key work here. People who are addicted to drugs are suffering. Does anybody wiling chose to suffer? No, they do not.
No one has used drugs for the first time with the intention of being sucked into addiction. Surely everybody knows that don’t they? Sure, you can say “well don’t even try it in the first place”, you can also stick by that statement if you want to ignore or overlook the complexities of life, mistakes and regrets. You may not have turned to drugs when your life had hit rock bottom, great. Maybe your rock bottom isn’t on par with someone else’s. Maybe you had a better coping mechanism, maybe you had more support, maybe drugs just weren’t available to you. Maybe you didn’t have someone promising that this substance would ease the pain temporarily and before you know it, you can’t stop something you didn’t even mean to start. Maybe you haven’t woken up feeling like an awful parent and living with the guilt of drug use and addiction is too much to cope with, so you contemplate suicide and the only thing that is going to ease your pain is more drugs.
Maybe you think that accessing support for addiction is easy, maybe you even think that recovery is easy if somebody wants to do it. From experience, I am here to tell you that neither is easy. Life as a child of addicts was not easy nor a choice. My addicted parents lives were not easy, nor a choice. Recovery was and is not easy, and it was a choice, but it had been a choice time and time again and was not successful.
A message from the child of addicts, my parents do not want sympathy for suffering from addiction.
A message from the child of addicts, please show my parents some compassion for suffering from addiction.