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The forgotten souls

Updated on April 1, 2016

It is said that those battling addiction are blinded by their demons, unable to see the negative impact their actions have on the ones they claim to love. In an ideal world it would seem appropriate to video tape them and play it back when they have returned to reality so they could see firsthand the trials and tribulations their loved ones endure when they are spiraling out of control. The hope would be they feel something other than the numbness they experience as they watch their children shudder in fear, crying themselves to sleep.

For me this is personal as I have witnessed a child I welcomed into my home deal with these struggles. I listen as he opens up, sharing his feelings with me repeatedly saying he could have made things better. “Maybe she wouldn’t need to drink or take the pills that she says help her sleep.” He tries to justify his mother’s addictions while I offer reassurance, trying to convince him it’s not his fault. My efforts fruitless as his brain is tattooed with, “It’s all my fault.”

No one will ever know all he has endured. He’s shared “happy times” stories with his mother, but has only told me a fraction of the bad. Over time I’ve earned his trust so little by little he lets me in but I’m not the professional ear he needs. I only want to be his friend, an unbiased shoulder to cry on. I won’t condemn or put his mother down as I wish to guidance and support. I tell him I hope she gets better for both their sakes.

He’s moved in and out of her home so many times I’ve lost count, but always returns to the same empty promise, “I will stop.” She likes to end each conversation with, “If you don’t come back I’ll kill myself” feinting suicide attempts.

He has stories of her blacking out for days, times where she threw him out into the dark of night, calling his grandmother to pick him and his dog up from a neighboring park. Her endless berating, telling him he should kill himself, tales of going to school facing the kids who saw the police cars at his house the night before. I can’t imagine the fear and confusion he felt.

She has been in the hospital and rehab centers numerous times for attempted suicide as well as drug and alcohol addiction. She would take just enough pills or slit her wrists slightly, drawing enough blood to get her husband and children not to leave her. Most of the time these events took place while her husband was on the road, he was a truck driver. This went on for the last 8 years of their 18 year marriage. Needless to say, the marriage finally came to an end.

No one in their right mind would say or do these things yet she was repeatedly released from these centers given the proverbial “All Clear.” My question is, how? This person is obviously not of sound mind. Now granted I am merely an outsider looking in, but as a mother of two adult sons I will never understand how someone could do this to their family. Not only is there an addiction to contend with but mental instability as well, one which clearly requires psychiatric care. How do people with these challenges continue to slip through the system? Who makes the call to say enough is enough?

It seems the courts have been forced to step up to the plate as she is currently incarcerated on a multitude of charges. She nearly killed someone for this to happen, all of which could have been avoided had the powers that be paid better attention. She has literally lost everything, her home, her children and her husband.

It’s an ongoing struggle acclimating him to a stable home life. Loud noises terrify him forcing him to retreat to his room if you raise your voice one octave. In speaking with her former husband, he tells me he twitches in his sleep due to years of being woken violently at all hours of the night by her shaking him or pounding on him with her fists, screaming with uncontrollable rage.

He wanted to fight for custody after the divorce but he begged him not to - telling him he could make her better. How could he argue with that? Now after the fact, he knows he should have gone against his wishes but the on his little face made it hard to say no. He’s racked with guilt over this yet his son harbors resentment towards his father for not taking them away sooner, forgetting he begged him not to.

This family’s story is one I know is all too familiar in today’s society. It’s sad that the children are the real victims, left behind by a system they cannot seem to change.

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