Hello, my name is Selene.
Before I start telling my story, I want to say that I do love my family with all my heart, and I’m not saying that my family is bad. I’m not going to tell all the details of my story; I just wish to encourage people going through the same things. Even if it wasn’t always easy in my family, and we still rarely speak about our feelings, we do love each other and are there for each other in many different ways.
During my childhood, I had to deal with a lot of stuff I wasn’t ready for. But because of my path, I’ve become the strong person I am today. We never spoke about our father’s alcohol problem with anyone. As a kid, I was too young to realize why he was violent and aggressive
most of the time, but as a teenager, I started to see and understand more. He often drank during the day at work and would continue drinking later at home. It was never seen as an issue or an addiction. It was just his usual behavior. Often, my mother or my siblings would be attacked by my father for no reason and later I got to experience the same treatment. He was always able to find a reason for verbal and physical violence. And sometimes, just five minutes later, he was calm and was laughing again as though nothing had happened. We never spoke about it, and now when I think about it, I asked myself why he never felt sorry for his behavior and why he never understood what he was doing to us.
Well, I still don’t know the reason, but some of the stories about how he grew up make me think that his childhood must not have been the best either. I know that he feels bad about everything that he did, and even if we have never heard an apology, I can see it in his eyes. I also know that I got very pissed off at my mother and siblings. I needed to feel loved and protected, but eventually I had to realize that they were in exactly the same position as myself: helpless. I now know that we all felt helpless.
Things in our home weren’t that peaceful, and so I also had issues at school. I never was that good in school and never felt welcome because the teachers and all the kids from my class always made me feel that wasn’t good enough or worthy of being treated like everyone else. So even in school, I felt alone. When I was fifteen years old, I ran away from home, and started living with friends. I started drinking alcohol and tried some drugs to try to forget or, even better, ignore my life. All I wanted was to be surrounded by people who accepted me for who I was, wouldn’t make fun of me or make me feel sad. It was like a party every day, no one asked about how you felt, we just spent time together and had “fun”. For five years, I saw many people get hurt by the abuse of drugs and alcohol. I guess I was lucky that when I started with it, I was always saying to myself that I had to control the drug use and not let the drugs control me. I’ve seen a lot of people ruin their lives, and I realized that I was about to ruin mine, as well. In 2008, I wanted to restart my life. I started to distance myself from this group, who I don’t think were ever really my friends. We lived a party life, but having no one who really cared about me to talk with? Is that what I needed? Why was I doing this? After asking myself this question, something changed in me and I made the decision to leave it behind. The answer to the question as to why I wanted to change? Maybe because of my father. Maybe because I didn’t feel loved enough as a kid and didn’t get the attention that I needed. Maybe because I’ve never felt understood. Maybe because I never knew what it felt like to have real friends that cared about me. Well, I came up with a lot of answers in my head, but mostly I just knew I wanted to make it better.
I wanted to become the person I needed in my childhood. My inner child was yelling at me and I no longer wanted to be the victim. I was willing to create a new life.
Addiction doesn’t have to win. It was hard to lose some people, but I knew their addiction was yelling louder than their love for anything or anyone else. I was about to lose myself and, during that time, I kept away from my family. I never wanted them to see me in that condition. During the time I wasn’t at home, some great things happened in my family: my oldest sister gave birth to her first daughter, and my father finally found the strength to stop drinking. My niece is going to be 16 years old, and I’m grateful today that I can tell you that it can end in a good way. And again, addiction didn’t win. I still don’t have the best relationship with my family- it will never be completely fixed- but the love we have for each other will always be strong. I think that’s the most important family value. I guess the trauma will remain, we can’t make up for or undo certain things. But we can heal our wounds with love. Love for each other, yes, but especially self-love. If we can’t love ourselves, how can we love someone else? We all must deal with some issues in life… We can only try to make it better and do the best in all the little things… Addiction doesn’t have to win.
Rebel is the Reason. ⚡
Editor: Elizabeth Gerhart-Thompson