This time in our lives has been a challenge on so many levels.
Our new reality has already been in effect for almost 14 weeks now; already a first trimester in a pregnancy in comparison. Keeping such a secret could be easier for some but I imagine scary for a first timer as well due to lack of support.
Being in Active Addiction would also be fucking scary – a reality I came to know all too well. It almost feels surreal now – a month away from 2 years clean and sober from prescription Opiates, that I ever came to depend on those pills every day to begin with. Had I still been addicted, it would have become a desperate situation in order to survive.
The Spring time reminds me and almost triggers me on a daily basis, reminding me of my former life. It doesn’t haunt me with guilt or shame as it did before but lately with all this time to pass on my own; I’ve had to become comfortable with spending time with myself when the kids aren’t here: alone and sober.
My life for the past 2 years has not consisted of bullshit: No drinking or drugging. No men to come share my bed either. Fuck there isn’t even a mall for me to indulge in with new clothes or something. It’s entirely focused on 3 simple things: my children, my recovery and securing our future.
For the first time in awhile, I’ve just spent time with me, myself and I.
It’s been a lot of sleepless nights but not in such a bad way. I’ve been reading books again, ones I’ve read already in fact while I was away at Treatment. This could be another factor in why I’ve been ruminating about those last few months in the Spring of 2018 as I neared the end of my Active Addiction but spring weather definitely triggers me.
My 36th birthday is coming up as well and I’ve been thinking about how next year I’ll be 37; the age my Father was when he had 3 kids and died tragically in a sudden car accident in August 1991. He had his whole life ahead of him and although at the time he was feeling overwhelmed by the season and stresses of his life – he was a strong man and he had so many people who loved him.
Feeling closer to his age of death in my own season of life has allowed me to better understand the who, what, when, where and how’s of everything that happened leading up to his death. My Father had not yet achieved the life experience I’ve already racked up but he certainly lived a life before he had children.
He had positioned himself in every fashion to secure success in order to provide for his Wife and Children on every level possible; alive or dead. His death provided insurance which paid out generously although none of it was ever put away for us kids.
This is where the bulk of my privilege has come from although I’d rather have him here.
Ultimately being “too good” would be his downfall – the man couldn’t stop fucking people-pleasing.
He never took a real vacation after he got married other than a 48 hour trip to places like Santa’s Village and Marineland with us. The last trip we took to Niagara Falls was about 2 weeks before he died.
Hard work was his built into his bloodline but no one can fault him for that. It was nurtured into him from the time he was a young boy; growing up on a Farm owned by 2 very strict Dutch immigrants. He was also a slightly introverted extrovert: someone who is outgoing, has lots of friends and intimate connections yet he also enjoyed his time alone.
I think he needed that as part of unwinding which became harder and harder.
He didn’t have many relationships outside of his large Family with 4 sisters; aside from my Mother who eventually became his wife, her Family and his best friend had been by his side since childhood.
My Father was an exceptionally bright man and became an Electrician, quickly climbing the ranks. He got a job working for a family friend of my Grandparents which led to him feeling like he could never say “No” to work. I came to realize he really wasn’t addicted to his job as my Mother previously claimed. I see it entirely different now.
I was forced to get a part-time job at 15 After my mother told me she wouldn’t pay for anything other than the roof over my head and food. Therefore a job became something of a safety net for me as I grew up and I began supporting myself financially. It gave me something to focus on but also helped me avoid falling down the wrong path as I was surrounded by a variety of nurturing adults in the workplace.
I can definitely relate to being a slight workaholic as it gave me such a sense of accomplishment but it also became a pretty big part of my identity. I began making some of my closest bonds with people (many to this day) that led to personal development of various values and morals.
My career as a Banker meant everything to me just as his career meant everything to him.
But I can also understand the stresses of having close family friends involved in your employment just like my Dad did.
I had been a Banker for so long that my book of business included a healthy chunk of family and friends. This was huge factor in why I kept my addiction and using a secret because quite frankly I knew it would change everything and it did. No one wants to admit they fucked up and so it became easier to continue living a lie.
In one situation I became the Banker for two people very close to me who also happened to be incredibly affluent yet demanding. Even on a vacation to the Dominican for a friends wedding became “about work” as they contacted me repeatedly to find out when I’d be home. Then my Mother got a call from them and asked. It just felt like I couldn’t ever relax.
The pills I took and eventually became seriously addicted to – masked the unbearable anxiety, insomnia and constant nausea from feeling sick, probably a combo of exhaustion, the pills themselves and intense stress. All I could eventually think about was my job, clients, paycheque and how I’d be able to continue hiding everything with my illness.
My Dad was also very good as well at hiding his depression, upset and worry. That was until it became quite noticeable the Summer of 1991, in which he died at the end of. Even I as a child noticed his changes as he stopped sleeping, and I could hear my parents fighting all the time.
My Oma told me a story once of how my Dad almost died from Kidney failure as a teenage boy.
He had been a star at his high school for being a Wrestling champion. Although not very big or tall; he was strong, agile and quick – probably from all the core training he received on the Farm. My Father was not looking to become anything bigger than he was however he had a Coach who pushed him hard.
My Oma told me how my Father started taking some pills which helped him perform better. He began losing lots of weight, stopped eating and sleeping and got very sick. Eventually he ended up in the hospital with kidney issues where it was discovered he had been taking some sort of enhancing drug which had been given to him by his Wrestling Coach.
My Dad was an extreme people pleaser and just couldn’t say no to this man who held emotional power over him, which was mainly anyone connected to him that he held respect for. I completely understand this notion as it’s been something I’ve had to work hard on setting boundaries for.
Sadly my grandparents never said anything to the School, or the Coach out of fear of racism. Back then in 1970’s Oakville, a thick Dutch accent was just as bad as not speaking English. My Grandparents were devastated about what happened but too scared of not being able to fully communicate what had happened.
What was possibly worse: not being believed at all and their son being punished for that somehow so the issue never got dealt with otherwise.
It wouldn’t be the first or last time my Father worked himself into a total overdrive and burnt out.
Throughout my 7 years with him, I only remember him ever working during the day but always coming home around dinner time. When he came home he did spend time with us but he’d be exhausted. Whenever I’d wake up in the morning, he’d be gone already. He died around 8 am on a Monday morning while driving in rush-hour traffic.
I often think about all the people who were probably mad at him for having to sit on a closed highway, late for work. They had to close the highway for almost the entire day.
He gave and gave, tried and tried – until he had nothing to give any more and his life began to fall apart.
A summer of depression led him to his parents house to seek their help with several issues but my Oma sent him back home. My Father died about 2 weeks later in a total freak accident that no one was able to fully explain. I learned decades later his death had been investigated for suicide as his Life Insurance had just been increased.
It was only in my own experiences that I came to see how it could’ve happened. The past year has been a troublesome one and it could have easily brought me back to active addiction. I have felt a range of emotions; ones I didn’t even know I could feel in terms of anger, range and absolute grief. After being numbed by Opiates for so long, it felt scary and overwhelming at times.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
When you are just so fucking exhausted and in a fog – you just aren’t thinking properly so you can’t react.
When you are cognitively affected by anger, sadness and even rage – mistakes can happen.
Almost 30 years later; it all clicked for me as to how he became so depressed and it was not just one thing.
He was trying to please so many people and he lost himself along the way. For a man like my Dad to fall off his trajectory – it was almost too much to bear. I don’t know if my Father could have overcome what was happening in his life without it compromising everything he believed about himself.
My Dad was a very smart, capable man and he was successful too. It’s a shame he died and it’s a loss I’ve carried my whole life. It can cause me to break into tears out of nowhere just thinking about him. I see that powerful bond now between my girls and their Dad. It would be a blow to their lives and something I wouldn’t wish for any family.
It was one of my Oma’s biggest regrets that she sent her son back home but she’s held onto her own values and morals too; it’s all she’s known. She was raised to work things out no matter what so you can imagine the earful I received when I told her of my own Divorce but she eventually got it. She realized it’s not always right to “work it out.”
In one of our recent conversations; my 97 year old Grandmother summarized her sons tragedy like this: “he was so happy his entire life until that Summer and then; he just wasn’t happy any more.” My Grandmother could never describe him as “depressed, despondent or burnt-out” because those words are just not in her dichotomy.
She grew up in Europe with 17 siblings then she lived through the War, Great Depression, immigration, etc. Her whole life was indeed a series of tragedies, traumas and so her sons life didn’t seem so bad.
Not only did she have to endure the War and the Great Depression before it, her own mother died when she was only 5. Her widowed father had 8 kids to raise. He had 10 more on his second marriage (which was to the Housemaid) so you can imagine what her life was like.
My Oma just couldn’t see how bad things were until they were over; and even then she felt guilt so she never reacted in anger. She simply locked her feelings away and never spoke of it really.
No one ever forgot these events and everything after though which helped me almost 30 years later.
Rummaging or ruminating – doesn’t matter what you call it, I had to figure all of this out. Being told your entire childhood to just “get over it” by my Mother when it came to my Dad and his death. We grew up not knowing him at all and our Mother did not share many stories. It wasn’t until I became closer with my Dad’s sisters in my adult years that I really got to hear what he was like outside of marriage and fatherhood.
The day he died he was supposed to attend an appointment with my Mother and a Marriage Counsellor. How’s that for destiny? Imagine having to call that office and tell them why you won’t be coming? My Dad’s sense of humour probably would’ve found that to be semi-humorous if it weren’t so tragic it happened to him.
In the past 2 years as I’ve become stronger in my own Recovery from severe depression, anxiety and of course using Prescription Opiates on a regular, daily basis to cope with all that; I can finally see how much I am like my Dad. We share an adventurous side – he once took off on a road-trip with his best friend to California. They were in their early 20’s. He was also an avid Duck Hunter which he enjoyed with his best friend Jerry.
When he didn’t have any outlets to blow off steam anymore as he worked so hard; and then spent all his free time with Family – it began to wear him down. This is ultimately what happened to me as well as my life became taken up by everything and everyone else. On top of that, my Father and I share the similarity of being married to someone completely different from our personality type. What made him happy annoyed my Mother as she felt tied down.
Working hard to memorialize my Father is something I took very seriously as I knew how hard his parents worked to make all of our lives easier. Two years ago I felt so ashamed of myself and thought often about the repercussions of my Oma finding out the truth about me. I cared so much about what other people thought (and for good reason no doubt) that it kept me from getting better.
I stayed sick and stuck because it was comfortable, encouraged and just sadly – easier.
As long as I had those pills and didn’t cause a “problem” – I’d never have to feel the deep rooted anger and fear I had felt inside for as long as I could remember. Thankfully I’ve been freed from that unrelenting empty feeling and habitual Fog that seemingly came and went until one day; it stayed with me and I couldn’t fix myself.
The actual addiction would have to be dealt with first; then the realization of everything that contributed to it – needed to be dealt with too:
I could not stay in an unhappy, loveless marriage that became toxic.
I could not continue standing by my Mother and my family as they refused to address anything in a proper, helpful way.
I could no longer continue exposing my daughters to dysfunction, misogyny and emotional trauma.
I could no longer be told I was a piece of shit for having a very private, personal addiction to Opiates after doing everything I could to turn my life around.
I could no longer stay married just to feel safe and like “everyone else” – as I no longer was.
I could no longer pretend that I was something I wasn’t and continue living a lie.
I could no longer tell myself to just “get over” things without actually processing what happened.
I could no longer live a life of exhaustion, confusion, and without fun, love and happiness.
I am one of the lucky ones who escaped Addiction, into Recovery and have been able to stay sober. To have my children with me on a majority basis is the biggest gift. It doesn’t happen easily for many Women/Mother’s and that’s something I want to help change. This past year has taught me a lot about what it takes to stay sober. It was no doubt planned to take away my children from me.
If my Father had tried to leave, I have no doubt the same would’ve happened to him. I know my Mother would have made his life a living hell and he didn’t know what to do – he was falling further and further away. His own Wife punished him for it as she saw his sadness as a failing, possibly a reflection on her.
It’s not all her fault of course – she was raised in a certain way and raised to expect certain things from her Husband. During that time, her own Mother would have been counselling her through and I’m sure it wouldn’t have favoured my Father. It always circled back to money, his Family, his sister (who my mother used to be friends with), how much he worked and how miserable she was at home all the time.
He would never know how his marriage would turn out because he died on the exact day he was due to meet a Marriage Counsellor.
Take good care of yourself during this time. Use the time to reflect on your own Family Trauma if it needs healing. Look for repeating patterns in your Family by looking at pictures, as it helps bring back old memories. Sometimes this is painful but it helps foster real emotional growth inside.
This website will be moving to
A new URL in the next month.
Very excited to launch my new concept and content with you all.