Last night the kids and I watched two episodes of the show Intervention. The three of us became absorbed within the lives of the families and the addicts, keenly aware of their extreme difficulties, reminded of our own struggles.
Their dad is eleven months sober, as he so proudly announces to them with each monthly milestone. And they are so proud of him. Watching that show brought back a haunting past, a reminder of how a little girl became a caretaker for her father, of how a little boy unknowingly learned to lean on his sister to get them both through some very scary times.
We were reminded of talks that we had of how we had to stop doing what felt good to their dad, we learned first hand what the word enabling meant. At the ages of eight and six, they were two of the best, most amazing students in the school of hard knocks (and still are).
Their love never faltered for their dad, their hope (while it was certainly tried) never left their hearts. I did my best to not make him a villain in their eyes, yet help them understand what his alcoholism was doing to him, to them, to all of us. It was hurtful. It was destructive. It was heartbreaking.
We were reminded of how much we tried. And tried. And tried to help him. It wasn’t until the rope came to its bitter frayed end that we had nothing left within us to fight the fight, and we moved away from him. It's one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, as I’ve always maintained that I would never take the kids away from their dad. They love him so much.
We were reminded of how ironic life is, that us being there with him, trying to help him, only hurt him and kept him from becoming healthy. Moving, being away from him, not being there to catch him, is what has allowed him to become whole again.
Sometimes life is unfair, but they recognize that if it means their dad is healthy and sober, unfair is ok.
We are good…we are now in a place where if he does relapse, if he does fall off that tipsy turvy slippery wagon, our lives will not be derailed as well. The little girl is now nearing eleven, the little boy eight. They are enjoying being kids again, not burdened with the everyday torment that alcoholism once tortured them with.
To those suffering families and addicts, we hope for the best for them. We know what one side of the disease is like, to watch someone suffer from it and be helpless against it. That stupid saying, That which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, is fucking true.
Out of the ashes have come two impressively resilient children, a smarter mom, and an extremely solid bond between the three of us.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.