A sad loss…

My heart ached when I read the news about Robin Williams…not just because I really love many of his movies, but because this tragedy follows in the wake of another suicide in my life. My best friend’s cousin just took his own life a few weeks ago, at the age of 26. It is just so horrible, so sad, so tragic. When my friend’s aunt, his mother, turned to me at the memorial service, she said to me, “I just don’t understand why he would do this.” The only response I could even fathom to give is, “He was just in so much pain.” I obviously do not know Robin Williams, but I know to inflict harm on yourself, you must be so distressed, so broken, so hopeless. The thing is I know two people (three if you count Robin Williams, who I obviously don’t personally know, but who had a very public personae) who have taken their own lives and they all have one trait in common…they all seemed happy. “Seem” is a dangerous word- I know from my own family and childhood that things often are not what they seem. My friend’s cousin was a gentle giant- he was so sweet and always had a smile for me when we saw each other. He never really revealed his suffering to the world, though those who knew him best knew his struggles with addiction. The other young man I knew was a former student’s older brother (although still just a teenager), who also was energetic, funny and outgoing…just not a person you would ever expect to commit suicide.

It just makes me so sad to think about someone suffering so much while trying to convince the world that they are okay.

Starting over

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I just found out that my best friend’s mother (I call her “Ma”) recently relapsed. She had been sober for 14 years. It is a reminder of how deep and strong addictions really can be. This is on top of my cousin relapsing after 12 years of sobriety over the summer. It makes me sad because I truly believed both of them had conquered their addictions. I do not mean to sound judgmental, because I still admire the journeys both my cousin and Ma have taken, even if they are now both experiencing setbacks. I am confident that Ma will get back on track and start over with AA (I’m not so sure about my cousin…she is battling meth and doesn’t seem to really acknowledge her problem).

I actually have written about Ma before. I have known her since I was 12 (so over 20 years now) and I saw her at her worst. Watching her become sober gave me hope. Hope that people can change, although strangely it never gave me hope that my father would stop drinking. That would take much more than just hope!!

I know firsthand that noone can stop another person from drinking or using and they have to want help…I just pray that both my cousin and my Ma find their way back to being sober.

Not a happy ending…

I thought I would give my dad a break from my blog and focus on another family member. I have a very small family and really only one cousin who I am close with. She is exactly 9 months older than me. She is adopted, but she may as well be blood related. Even though she has always lived halfway across the country from me, we have always had a tight bond.

She had a very rough childhood…mostly brought on by herself. I am going to refer to her as “M.” so I don’t just keep saying “she”. While growing up, M. was very rebellious. She got into drugs and alcohol at a young age, was promiscuous, cut school, etc. Basically any way that she could act out, she did. My aunt and uncle ended up divorcing and M. went to live with my uncle (my aunt, who is my mother’s sister, is also an alcoholic…run in the family much?? lol). My cousin became incorrigible and my uncle eventually gave her up as a ward of the state. M. was placed in foster care as a teenager and her bad behavior and substance abuse continued. To make a very, very long story short…my cousin got pregnant in her 20s and she finally made amends with her parents and cleaned up her act. She went to AA and threw herself into a sober lifestyle as a parent with gusto. A few years later, she had another baby (different dad) and she developed a nurturing relationship with her birth mother. It seemed like her crazy past was behind her. In her 30s, she married a very nice guy who treated her two children like his own and the two of them eventually had a baby together.

M. and I had a long-running joke that I was going to write her biography. We figured her story was crazier (and more true) than that guy James Frey’s was and could be inspiring to other young woman who are struggling to find out who they are. I was so proud of my cousin and how far she had come. She was a wife and a great mom, had a good job and owned a home. She had it all.

And then, unexpectedly, she called me a couple of months ago to tell me she was unhappy and leaving her husband. I was not entirely surprised and even though I was sad for them, I supported her decision. He is a great guy and if she didn’t love him anymore, they both deserved a chance to meet someone else. I learned the hard way how hard it is to be in an unhappy marriage and I didn’t want that for her. She seemed really okay about it and I wasn’t too worried.

But THEN, VERY unexpectedly, I stopped hearing from her. Calls went unanswered and she deleted her Facebook account. I finally reached out to her best friend who dropped a bombshell on me. Apparently, M. started having an affair several months back with a guy that has a very bad reputation in their town. He supposedly sold drugs and my cousin started getting back into doing them with him. By the time I found out all the details of what was going on, M. had left her husband and children and home, was fired from her job, was living at a hotel with this guy and was shooting meth. I have no idea how she slipped into a landslide so severe after being sober for over a decade. I am devastated to say the least. Almost all of my attempts to reach out to her have gone unanswered. It is very frustrating, considering I live over 1,100 miles away. I feel so helpless. Thank god her best friend is keeping me updated. So all I know now is that my cousin was arrested over the weekend with her boyfriend, was bailed out by a “friend” and refuses to go to rehab unless he goes with her.

I am so heartbroken. When M. was younger, she made so many bad decisions. The stakes are so much higher now- she has three children (one of whom isn’t even 2 years old yet) and she hasn’t seen them in weeks. I never, ever thought she would do this. Her two older children are staying with M.’s biological mother and the baby is still with her husband. As of right now, I don’t know where my cousin is. I am sad and angry and worried and sick over it. I know that drug addiction is an illness, but I can’t help feeling like she made a choice this time.

M. was supposed to be a success story. My biography about her was supposed to have a happy ending. Now I don’t know what is going to happen…