‘It’s easier to make it seem far away. But they sit by you in church. They’re your neighbors, friends, and coworkers.’: Daughter shares powerful message about addiction after losing mom

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“Addiction doesn’t care.

In my mother’s brightest moments, she was a highly respected and loved special education teacher, a friend, a spouse, and a present mother. She had a heart for people. She was smart and adventurous. She was truly fun and full of life. But addiction doesn’t care.

My mom gave her time to those less fortunate in various ways, often bringing us along. We learned to accept people that were different from an early age because of her—I’ll always be grateful for her demonstrating this kind of love. This was back in the day when students would visit their teachers. Sometimes her students would come to our home and have dinner with us. She taught many valuable things to myself and my sister. She loved us the best she could, she truly did.

baby girl shares happy moment with laughing mom who struggles with addiction
Courtesy of Laura Neiheisel

There are many misconceptions about what addiction looks like. Let me tell you right now, they sit by you in church, they are your neighbors and your friends, your coworkers. They hold leadership positions and are philanthropists. Maybe they are even your spouse. They come from affluence. It’s much easier to try to make it seem far away, or that there’s a certain characteristic to define an addict. That way people can pretend it’s not an extremely large problem nearby. We should talk about this more. Because addiction thrives in the secrets and in the hiding. Addiction doesn’t care.

We all worship something. For my mother, alcohol became her god. It was the first thing she thought about when she woke up and the last thing she thought about before she fell asleep. What started it? That story is different for everyone. Her uncles thought it was funny at parties to get her and her siblings drunk as young as the ages of 12 and 13. My grandma, her mother, was also bound by alcoholism and it was what ultimately ended her life. The process was gradual over years for my mother as she became an adult. But the ending is the same.

I’ve been told before that addicts are simply weak and it’s all their choice, with no idea how this works. I would like someone who still thinks this to watch a person in withdrawal. That will change your mind pretty quickly. It’s not so straightforward. None are immune. Addiction doesn’t care.

At her worst, addiction and depression had a strong hold on her life. And the unpredictable life from this created scars for all that love her. The best way I can describe it is watching someone drown and there being nothing you can do about it. We tried it all and we did it all from young children into adulthood. It fully consumes.

As I look back on her life story, full of highs and lows, I have great hope for those who do break this cycle and heal. There are those who do recover and become sober. We wanted that more than anything for her.”

smiling woman wearing pink sweater, struggling with alcohol addiction
Courtesy of Laura Neiheisel

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Neiheisel. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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