Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cunning, baffling and powerful

Laura R. sent me an email and wanted to share her experience with the loss of a dear friend who died from alcoholism.  I have known quite a few people who have died from alcoholism, including my father's sister and her daughter.  I thought that I would post this in several segments.  I did some editing of this but the gist of what Laura wrote is here:

I'm not usually a writer, but I hope that by writing my memories of my dear friend's battle with alcoholism, it might give others an understanding of the seriousness of the disease and that even with the best treatment and prayer support, the alcoholic may not be able to fight off the disease. If this happens, it runs its inevitable and horrible course. Although in her deepest heart, she was a lovely person, she has left behind destruction and pain for her family and friends. 

My prayer is that someone will read this and think, “that could be me” and stop their destructive behavior. The pain left by the progression of alcoholism is severe. The people hurt both physically and emotionally is tremendous. I do believe that alcoholism is a disease, but unlike cancer or other illnesses, it can be managed by a choice. Not an easy choice if you are predisposed to addiction, but in the end, a choice. Please make that choice. For your family, for your friends, for anyone or anything that you love, make that choice.

I have changed all the names here because I would not want her family to be pained in any fashion with my recounting of this sad story. They have suffered enough over the years without me contributing to their anguish.

Good beginnings
I distinctly remember meeting Daria in the summer of 1991.  A good friend of ours, Carl, had met her at a college reunion event. It turned out that she was moving to Maryland and so was very happy to meet someone who could show her around the area. Carl had a crush on her because she was so lively and beautiful so he offered to help her out.  She came over to my house where my first husband and I lived and I remember being so impressed with her. She seemed to be everything I am not. She was very outgoing, tall and slender with reddish hair. You couldn't help but like her immediately. She was beautiful in every sense of the word. She cooked for us during the first few times we met and was an absolutely amazing cook. She could make anything taste like a gourmet dinner.  I had no idea at the time she would become like a third sister to me and the rest of my family.

Flash ahead a couple of years and my first marriage fell apart. My parents were living in Australia and my oldest sister had been living in their house. She and my brother in law wanted to buy a house next door to my parents so it was fortuitous that I needed a place to live and my parent's house was available. Daria also needed a place to stay so it was decided that she would move into the house with me and my son. 

I may have been an innocent but even after thinking about it, I had no idea she had a drinking problem even though we were living in the same house. I'm not suspicious by nature, and our schedules were quite different so wherever she hid the alcohol, I never found any. We would have social events where everyone drank, but I can't say I ever noticed that she drank more than everyone else or was staggering drunk. 

She was working as a pharmaceutical representative and took many classes and exams to make sure she was qualified. She seemed extremely good at her job and I thought everything was going well with her. She had a parade of boyfriends because she was so beautiful and outgoing but none were very serious until Sam.

Daria met Sam and they seemed well suited to each other. He was outgoing and  fun to be around. He had a beautiful daughter named Katie. Daria and Sam were both athletic and enjoyed biking. Sam and Daria moved in together and seemed fine. The only odd thing that happened in that period was that Daria was cited for child abandonment because she left Katie in the house to go running and Katie called her mother. Daria thought it was ridiculous that she got a citation for that, but I personally thought it was odd to leave a young child alone without supervision. Other than that, they seemed fine, but eventually broke it off. 

This was when Daria began to tell us how much she just wanted to settle down and have children. She was a natural nurturer so we were all sure that she would make a wonderful mother as soon as she found a husband. You could see the longing in her eyes when she saw other people with babies and we believed it was just a matter of time until she found someone with whom to build a family.


Winter 1995
My husband and I were newly married and had been invited to go out to Park City, Utah with Daria to visit with her father and his wife. Daria's mother had died years before when she was a young adult. Her mother died of breast cancer, but from Daria's recounting of her death, her mother suffered from manic depression and had been mentally ill for quite a large part of Daria's life. It was very sad, and although Daria could talk about parts of it with humor, the deeply painful loss of her mother was a constant reality.  Fortunately, Daria really liked her step mother, Carol, and was very happy that we were going to see her father. 

This was the first time I had an inkling that something could be wrong. Whenever she talked to her father, she talked like a young child instead of an adult. Her entire body language would change and she related to him in a very odd way. 

I brought up to her step mom that Daria was very different out in Utah than she was at home. She was confident and mature in Maryland, but on this trip she behaved differently. Her step mom asked if I noticed Daria had a drinking problem. I was floored. I said I hadn't noticed at all. Her step mom said they were worried because they noticed that she had liquor in her coffee cup and that she was relating to her father in a very odd fashion. She had visited them some months earlier and actually baby talked when she would talk to her father. I was a bit alarmed, but believed because she functioned so well in Maryland, that she would get through it.

I will post the next part of Laura's story tomorrow.  

10 comments:

  1. I'm reading. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. mmm...nicely spun tale so far...look forward to seeing where this goes...unfortunately i think we know...

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  3. Thank you, Syd. I will keep reading.

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  4. Wow - I'm glad you passed this along, Syd.

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  5. This is very interesting, Syd. Thanks for sharing it.

    Love,

    SB

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  6. Thanks for the post.
    The disease cunning baffling and powerful

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  7. You have me wanting more story, for more understanding. For so long I have thought that alcoholism can be a way for adult children to remain children.

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  8. it's a really interesting story, thanks for posting it

    come on post part 3 NOW!!!!!!

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Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.