An Open Letter to the Addicts Raising Children

Dear Addicted Parents,

Do not think for a second that I do not understand. I have seen single-handedly the process that created you. I have seen with my own eyes the birth of demons, the self-loathing, and the late nights of pain that create an addict.

I have seen the breakdowns, heard the songs you’ve written, and felt the relationships that broke you as if they were my own. I have seen the darkness in your eyes that has you convinced that just one more drink, one more line, one more syringe, and maybe you’ll wake up from this nightmare.

I’ve seen the devastation when you wake up the next morning, and everything that created an addict still exists. I have seen you.

But I have also been your child. I have stood alone at father-daughter dances, fearing your drunken presence would be more an embarrassment than a comfort. I have had the sober parent tell me that no one can know, and that they wouldn’t understand.

I have been on the living room couch when grandparents and sober-parent sit us down and tell us that addicted-parent just isn’t coming home for a while. And I was in the front seat of the car when my sober-parent told me addicted-parent wasn’t coming home at all.

I am not here to invalidate your pain. Every dark aspect, every abandonment, every abuse you encountered created an addict. And I sympathize with all the ways you’ve tried to kill your pain.

But I am begging you, even though your life created an addict, don’t use your addiction to create me.

I am a daughter who will be walked down the aisle by my brother at my wedding.

I am a girlfriend whose father you will never have to impress.

I am a sister doing the best I can to explain to my little brother what it means to be a man, when I have never been one.

I am a daughter watching a mother bend over backwards trying to raise two children financially, emotionally, and mentally, and being punished when all she ever did was fall in love with an addict.

This is not a sob story. I will spit on your pity, and reject your help. I don’t need it.

I am simply saying what I wish someone had told my father before I was forced to grow up without one.

Stop. Today. Right now. This instant.

Stop so that your child doesn’t need to know what it’s like to sit at AA or NA meetings with you and hear stories of “50 years sobriety” while you still reek of booze.

Stop so that your child doesn’t constantly compare their own worth to a glass bottle, a pipe, or a syringe.

Stop so that you won’t miss it. Be there for every prom, every wedding, every break-up. You need to be there.

Stop choosing your death when so many parents would give anything just to live for their kids. Children are losing parents to cancer, natural disasters, and poverty, because that kind of death doesn’t leave you with a choice. Addiction does.

Your demons and your pain are valid, but they should’ve stopped taking center stage the exact MOMENT you brought a child into this world.

Your addiction is not saving you from darkness, it is creating ours.

I know you think it will never happen to you, and maybe it won’t. But it happened to me, and I am beyond determined to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

So dear Addicted Parents, start being the parent we can’t wait to grow up and be like, instead of the parent we are terrified of turning into