A year without you
So, here we are. A year without you.
Some days I hate that you left us, left us to carry on life without you. And some days I am content and grateful knowing you are safe and no longer in the pain you once were. But regardless of my feelings on any given day, it doesn’t make it any easier without you here anymore. Life seems to carry on, and while everyone carries on with their business, I am flooded with reminders of you. When I receive good news, or bad news the first person I want to call is you. The longing to have my beautiful mum back on this earth pains me every day.
But I hold you close in my heart every day, and I do my best to enjoy life without you, for you. There are harsh realities of being the child of an alcoholic, and often I have to sit and work through complex, intrusive and conflicting emotions. On the day of your funeral, in the eulogy I wrote for you, I reminded people of our most precious piece of life philosophy:
“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”
You felt everything so deeply, both pain and joy. But your joy was infectious, and I refuse to let that die with you. You were taken far too early from this earth, but the huge hole you have left, reminds us all how lucky we were and are to have had you in our lives. There are a lot of stereotypes out there, about ‘alcoholics’ and ‘alcoholism.’ I use those terms loosely because I’m still not a fan. The terms sometimes brand those who suffer, as bad people. But in my case, those terms couldn’t be further away from encapsulating your beauty, magic and wonderment for life. Despite your inner pain, you loved endlessly and showed nothing but kindness to others.
As we pass a year of not having you around, I am reminded of what brought me to Nacoa this time a year ago. A news article appeared on my phone screen, written by another Nacoa member, that I read over and over, thinking ‘those words could be my words.’ I read a little deeper and then discovered that it was in fact, children of alcoholics week. And even better, there was a charity out there, sharing hope and people’s stories just like mine. And in one evening, I went from feeling perhaps the lowest, and loneliest I have ever felt in my 23 years of living, to suddenly not feeling as alone anymore.
Growing up with a parent suffering from addiction is often a lonely and secretive place, and we too often become accustomed to burying our feelings. Maybe out of shame or fear, or maybe just to try and protect the ones we love. But what I continue to learn on my journey, is that being kind and truthful to yourself is one of the most important things to be. Let yourself be sad if you have to, let yourself be angry if you have to. And let yourself be happy. Reading stories just like mine through Nacoa shifted my perspective and awoke me to the truth that there are lots of us going through similar situations out there. And talking and hearing about others’ stories can offer great strength in isolated lonely periods of our lives.
So here we are Mum, a year without you.
I still can’t to come to terms with the idea that you’re not here anymore. Perhaps I never will. And I know you won’t be around anymore for birthdays and celebrations and days when I just need a cuddle. But that doesn’t mean I am alone without you. You live on through me, and I know there are so many others out there with stories like ours. No matter what happens I know your sunbeams shine down and protect me every day, telling me to have good thoughts, to be kind and to be lovely.
Find out more about COA Week.