This past week I went back to Utah. My mother in law threw one of her epic parties, and made over 40 costumes for some of her party goers. She turned me into a mermaid, and for the first time in years I felt truly sexy. Maybe that's not the best feeling to have while walking around a giant ballroom full of mostly family, but I'll take the confidence that gave me any day of the week.
As I walked around mingling with people who, like I said, were mostly family or close friends, I was able to talk about my book and hear what people thought, now that it's available for general consumption. I thought I would be afraid of this moment, but it became so exciting and I heard more than once that night "I feel like I really know you." and wasn't that entirely the point? At least in the case of my family and friends who have grown up with me or along side me on this journey through life. My heart feels so full of gratitude for all of the positive feedback I've been given this weekend, and not just at the party. Thanks to the community I have in Utah I'm gearing up to do some exciting things like interviews and book signings.
One thing that caught me off guard a little though was a message I received from a cousin I hadn't seen in a while. They read my book, and reached out to me about it. Have you read my book yet? If you have you'll be able to fill in some of the pieces here with me. If you have NOT I maybe wouldn't continue reading this post.
He shared with me that while my mother was living in Provo, Utah, near the end of her life, when she was going crazy and disappearing, that he had spent quite a bit of time with her. "I wouldn't necessarily say we were close" he said when I made that assumption. It wasn't about being close. It was about the addiction.
It took a lot for him to open up to me about his experiences with my mother and I don't take that lightly. I'm so proud of him for overcoming his own obstacles in life and so deeply ashamed of my mother for manipulating him when he was so young to believe that what he was doing was okay.
Here's the thing though, Mom was so entrenched in this world that there's a strong possibility that she felt completely justified in what she was asking him to do for her.
Here's where life with an addict gets really hard, and at this time in my life I didn't actually know that she was truly addicted.
Opening up with my story within my own family has given me some answers that I didn't know I needed, but what do I do with these puzzle pieces I'm being handed?
This is how I described this to my husband last night after my twelve hour road trip home from Utah: "It's like I have this huge jigsaw puzzle, and it's complete enough that I can see what the big picture probably is, and what I was handed were pieces that confirm that the image I think I see is in fact what I probably see." Still though, there aren't enough solid pieces to know for sure. They are only apparitions. Pieces of the puzzle contingent on the memories of my family and myself.
Angry is the natural response I have toward my mother for being what she was. Love, though, is what carry around in my heart with my lost hope for a different kind of life together.
How do you love an addict? How do you recognize addiction when you're so young?
This cousin of mine was young himself, seven years younger than I am. That puts him in his teen years when Mom was asking him to these favors for her.
This story goes so far beyond the walls of the home I grew up in. That's why this story is so important to me now. We all have so many questions to ask, so much support to gain, and so much love to spread to the people who are hurting themselves and us. We are all hurting in this situation. How do we get beyond anger to overcome the obstacles that are laying in front of us so that we can have the support and community we need to better our lives together?!
Answers I don't have yet, but new pieces of this giant and horrific puzzle are being built everyday and I think we can make something a little better if we try to build this one as a community. ♥