July 15, 2021

Our shutters were closed

Years ago we had our wonderfully kind neighbor diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and he almost died. For years I watched a community come together to support this man, his wife, and their children. Almost nightly I watched for months as people arrived with home cooked dinners by the bundle in casserole dishes and baked goods, accompanied with fresh flowers and comforting hugs and reassuring kind words. I thought, “What a wonderful world we live in.”

A short time later, my family’s world began to collapse inside our small, but loving, home. Our shutters were closed, and my family went quiet; aside from the raging arguments that would ensue when he was drunk, I would try to defend myself and the children from his erratic behavior or unkind words.

The Disease Overcame Our Daily Lives

I was barely making it through each day- caring for our children, making sure they got to school and homework done, also attempting to keep life as normal as possible with play dates and sports after school. I became the breadwinner, as he was too sick to maintain a job. Attempting to balance work and home life became almost impossible, as his disease overcame our daily lives.

Because of the stigma of this disease, I reached out to a very small few, but never really told them how bad it was, due to shame- thinking we would be looked down upon. Because of my fear of rejection, and the way many have been taught to look at alcoholics, I didn’t have the support system to help on a daily basis. 

Instead of a community outpouring of support, shame and fear overcame this loving home. No meals were brought in casserole dishes, or fresh flowers or warm cookies. Hugs were also not available, as the isolation brought our family further and further away from the community.

Alcoholism And Addiction Are Something We Do Not Discuss

I didn’t have the courage to speak up and ask for help, and friends did not ask, because alcoholism and addiction are something we do not discuss. After an ambulance visit and a cop car arrived outside our home, we got further and further away from being “normal,” and we became more like outcasts. 

No one reached out to see if we were ok, and we sunk deeper and deeper into the depths of this disease. Not only did it have a hold of my husband and our child’s father, but the disease began to seep through our home like a poison, unable to stop its effects upon our beautiful family. 

Oh what we would have given for a warm casserole dish.

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