My dad’s side of the family has struggled with addiction problems for years, probably for generations. The night of my holiday party, when I Facetimed my dad, I could tell that he was so far from sober. His eyes were crossed, his words were slurred, and he was not making any sense conversationally. The emotions that ran over me went from extremely angry to terrified in minutes.
Ton was trying to mask his pain; he was trying to make sense of everything he was feeling because none of it made sense to him or the doctors he was reaching out to for help. I started to fear that this would start a spiral, which can easily happen when you have an addiction, especially when your genes are also topped with anxiety and depression. It is like the Pripusich curse of addiction, anxiety, and depression, all balled into one with a stubbornness to accept help.
I want to share this side of things because over 19 million Americans over 12 battle with a substance disorder, and sadly roughly 40% of that comes from one’s genes. I know my family is not alone, and I want to share ALL aspects of our journey; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
After a couple of days of denying his calls out of anger, I knew it was time to talk. I knew we needed to discuss the elephant in the room. I knew how easily this could turn into a serious problem, how fast it could go south, and he needed to know that I would not subject my toddler to seeing his Papa, his ultimate hero, as I saw him the night before. Ton and I are two peas in a pod who could argue hard but love harder, and something that is always our priority is family. With the focus on getting to the other side of this conversation, getting a sense of insight, I needed him to see my side of the argument, but more importantly, I learned that he needed me to see his.
We ended 2016 knowing that this was not a “man-flu” situation and something was seriously wrong. The new year would come with fighting for an answer, hospital stays, and many doctor’s appointments for both Ton and me, as the start of 2017 was the beginning of the worst year of our lives.