September 2, 2021

One of the hardest aspects of this disease is the lack of open communication and honesty needed for the families of the addicts or alcoholics. A lot of it is just brushed under the rug, when in reality, we are dying inside. It feels like a storm pelting us from side to side, of which we have no shelter, protection, or control.

So, I’m going to tell you about a sweet moment, a moment when my mom “Got it.” It was at the beginning of his disease, and my mother could tell something was not right. She had “mother’s intuition,” but she also came from a family and generation where “they do not discuss such things.” She grew up in a generation where her mother wore white gloves and proper hats to church every Sunday, and topics such as alcoholism and addiction were never discussed.

As things got worse with my husband behind closed doors, I began shutting people out, including my own family, because I was embarrassed, mortified, and scared of what was happening inside our home- not to mention I was told to keep it quiet. I mean looking back, I didn’t even tell my own mother for so many reasons what was happening- I didn’t want her to worry, I couldn’t verbalize the degree of how awful it is, and I didn’t want to make things worse. I was scared. Plain and simple.

I don’t remember the day, time, or what particularly made her buy this for me, but one day she bought me a present. For no reason at all. I opened the package carefully, nervous to see what I would find, because anything made me cautious at that time.

She had no idea how much it meant to me

It was a green heart, with the title “Brave Girl” on it, with a key hidden behind the heart. It was one of the kindest, sweetest, and most appreciated gestures I needed at that time. I believe she said something as simply as, “You’re doing great. I know it’s a lot. You can do this. Keep going.” Even if she didn’t use those words, I knew that’s what she meant.

This gift became the unspoken cheerleader I would refer to or hold as times got tough. I still have it to this day, and the heart gets moved from time to time, in places where it becomes more prominent or visible- whether that’s bedside, desktop, or in the middle of the kitchen.

While buying presents is not the moral of this story, what is meant to be said is the importance of friendship, love, care, and gifts of the heart- whether that be time, conversation, experience, or tokens of encouragement. Whether you are the person suffering, or know of someone suffering, you may have no idea how important an olive branch is- whether giving or receiving. 

So, if you have a hunch someone is in need of kindness- do it. Don’t hesitate. You could be changing their world one small gesture at a time. 

Voices InCourage launches Fall 2021.