The Past

“You need to get over the past.”

It is a phrase that is flung my way every few months. Unfortunately, It is something It comes with the territory.   My advocacy work makes some people defensive. It makes them look at things they are uncomfortable facing. My truth can be threatening to those who do not want to look back.  Yet I don’t speak out t hurt them, I do it because I need to use my voice in order to move forward. For me it is important in my healing joruney to face the past.  Yet I wish people understood, that the past is a place that I work each day to leave behind.

I grew up in a traumatic environment. Due to my Mom’s alcohol dependency, I witnessed addiction and domestic violence numerous times during my childhood.  There are memories that still bother me. Memories that left indelible marks on who I am.

That manifests itself in many ways. Raised voices make me nervous. A sound, smell or phrase can bring me back to a scary memory, and my body reacts accordingly.

My body is shaped around protection. It is used to the worst happening suddenly. Many of these reactions date back to when I was the last line of defense, protecting me and my sister from the chaos. Many of them no longer serve me, but they protected me for years. I honor them, even as I work to build healthier patterns.


As the child of an alcoholic, my past often returns unexpectedly.

I want people to see that. I heal loudly, because for years I thought I was an aberration. I silently suffered through my triggers unsure of how to reach out. I thought something was wrong with me, when in truth I was simply reacting to a trauma.

It isn’t about “getting over” my past. It is about honoring it while working to move into the future.

Together we heal

Did I make you uncomfortable?

I believe in telling stories of addiction with compassion. Of sharing the good and the bad. In looking at everyone in a fair way without judgement.

But I also have a deep belief that survivors have a right to tell their stories. Even if it makes other people uncomfortable. We do not have to hide our pain because you cannot handle it.

Everything has a consequence.If you don’t speak up for a child that needs you, someday you may have to face being confronted by that. Survivors don’t have to silently carry their traumas to maintain the status quo within a family that turned away from them.

Survivors have no obligation to protect those who failed to protect them.

My Small World

Growing up my world was scary.

I encountered repeated traumas. I watched my mom drink to excess and turn into a monster. My parents fought nightly, the screams reverberating through the walls as I tried to sleep. I was seven when I watched Mom being arrested for a DUI. The world was scary, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In her work Brené Brown says

“Of all the things trauma takes away from us, the worst is our willingness, or even our ability, to be vulnerable. There’s a reclaiming that has to happen.”

 Right now, I’ m in the middle of that reclaiming.

For years, I struggled. I watched the people around me excel as I stalled.  I turned inward, thinking something was wrong with me. That I was unmotivated and not strong enough. As I began my healing journey, I began to realize it was something different. My environment growing up taught me that risk was dangerous. I had a limiting mindset, and that held me back.

I lacked the room to be vulnerable. I did not reach out and try new things because they were scary. My childhood had shaped me for survival, not growth. Life was already full of risk and fear. Play it safe was my motto.  

But that held me back. I carried that limiting mindset into adulthood.  I quit when things got hard. I did not reach for my goals. I settled for the first job that came my way to be safe. I allowed people to mistreat me because I thought something was better than nothing. I did not pursue my passions.

because the risk involved terrified me.

But lately there has been a shift.

Over the last few years, I have been working on healing. In late 2018 I hit rock bottom mentally. I realized that something did not change I was in trouble. I started the hard work of healing. Slowly I started to move into a healthier place.  As I have gotten better, I have felt my attitudes and mindsets shift.

I have started to move out of my safety mindset.  I took little risks. When those paid off and not threatened my sense of safety, I have moved onto bigger risks.  Instead of “I can’t do that” it has been “What is the harm in trying?”  I am learning that I can take risk, and the bottom will not fall out under me.  That knowledge has given me the confidence to be vulnerable. That has led to an incredible amount of growth in my life.

That vulnerability has allowed me to move forward.  I am currently debating two job offers for positions in a field I am passionate about. Yesterday I finished my application for graduate school. I am finally reaching out for more. What is amazing is that I am finding success. After so many years of holding back, it is incredible empowering to reach my dreams.

After so many years of making myself small to survive, I am spreading my wings. That limiting mindset is falling away, and I get to experience how beautiful life is.

The world is not scary anymore.

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 64 if she did not lose her battle with alcoholism.

I had something else written out, but as I prepared to post, it did not feel right. It felt too seriously, so instead I decided to share some of my favorite stories of her.

I brought her to see Bad Grandpa and she thought Johnny Knoxville was the funniest thing ever. I thought she was going to be offended but she died laughed.

She broken her femur before I was born. The hospital tried to take her pants with hospital shears. She told then they were not going to cut her goddamn Levi’s off and proceeded to get them off.

She loved our dog Birdie. She treated her like her first grandchild. There were always treats and new toys for Birdie when we visited. Bird was allowed to drool on everyone, jump on furniture and reign general chaos. One time me and my now husband caught Mom feeding Birdie half of a steak. We let them have their moment.

Most importantly she was the first person to believe in my writing. She believed in me before I did. She told me I had a gift with words, and encouraged me to keep writing. More than anything, that has stayed with me.

My Mom had a strong, stubborn, loving personality. Much of my strength and tenacity comes from her. I am proud to be her daughter and carry those traits into my life. She was an alcoholic, but first and foremost she was a person. A person that I deeply love.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Having to walk away.

This was taken at Father Daughter dance at my wedding. This is the moment my Dad chose to apologize that his girlfriend was not there.

“ You know __ is sorry that she isn’t here right?”

As the child of an Alcoholic I am expert at hiding in plain sight. Covering my emotions when needed. But on that day my mask slipped. The disbelief showed on my face. We were surrounded by cameras, so I quickly forced a smile. I didn’t want anyone to know something was wrong.

But the photographer caught it.

This picture holds so many emotions. I feel anger, and sadness and disappointment. I look back and I feel let down. He took a moment from me that I will never get back.

Outsiders who say “ But they are still your family” have no understanding of how how hurtful family can be. They don’t understand the pain that brings us to the point of no contact. It is not easy, but sometimes we are left with no choice.

People always ask where my healing journey began. It was in this moment. When my concepts of my family was shattered and I was forced to see the truth. When I realized that the dysfunction was much bigger than my Mothers alcoholism. When things got incredibly complicated, but also painfully clear.

The truth is sometimes the best thing you can do is leave your family behind. You can love them and still walk away.

It is complicated sometimes.

Impacted by Alcoholism Week 1

This piece is part of the impacted by alcoholism series. Impacted by Alcoholism is a campaign to bring awareness to the issue of Alcohol misuse in the United States and beyond. This story and picture was submitted by Darcy Bloom.

There’s all the typical childhood stuff; neglect, isolation from other people, wasted money and broken promises…

But I didn’t fully comprehend that my dad was an alcoholic, and what that meant until I was in my mid thirties.

There were so many lies and things swept under the carpet, I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of challenges in my life connecting with other people, trust issues and also acknowledging my own needs and who I am.

For a long time, I have felt so lost.

Last year my dad died during our first covid lockdown here in Australia…

His last 7 years were rough….for nearly two of those we hadn’t spoken.

He had become brain damaged from alcoholism, was homeless at times and  ended up living in a shelter. This is the place that he died…alone in a small room.

I wanted to save him so badly, even after everything that had happened, but I couldn’t.

It would have meant sacrificing my own family and impacting my daughter.

The guilt has been heavy; at times I thought it would consume me.

I have written a lot of a angry, painful words about him and his addiction, but the thing that really sits with me now is that I missed out on a “normal” father/daughter relationship with him.  It just wasn’t possible and along with grieving him, I’m also grieving the things we could never have.

#impactedbyalcoholism

A letter to my younger self

This kid has been on my mind a lot lately. What would I say
to her if given the chance?

I am sorry that the adults around you failed to protect you. You deserve so much better.

Things are going to get tough, but I promise it will not last forever.

You will never lose your compassion, despite what you went through, and I am so proud of you for that.

There are people out there who will love you unconditionally. I cannot wait till you meet them. Family is not always blood.

Don’t let people push you around. Use that fearless stubbornness and hold your ground.

Do not make yourself small so others can be comfortable.

You are not too emotional. Your deep empathy is an incredible gift. You will touch so many lives.

You are not a burden just because you exist. Your parents made the conscious choice to bring you into this world. You do not owe them.

You are not alone. Many children have a parent
struggling with alcoholism. You will find your people.

If you have to beg for their love, they are not worth it. Don’t overextended yourself for people who don’t deserve it.

You have a way with words. Follow that passion. Do not let anyone talk you out of your dreams.

Finally I love you so much. I know you struggle with isolation, fear and your worth. You are beautiful, both inside and out. You are such an incredible human, who is going to do great things.

Keep going kiddo, it gets better from here.

Complicated Grief

After My Mom passed away, my emotions were complicated.

We lost her on a rainy day at the end of June. I still remember the rain on my face, as I ran down the driveway. Running by the ambulance in the driveway. The group of people gathered there speaking in low voices. Walking into that living room, and the jolting moment when my life was split into a before and after.

Losing my Mother left me with a deep sadness.  The grief that follows the death of a parent is difficult to explain. It is permanently pulls from your own childhood. In the aftermath, you are faced to face your own mortality in an intimate way. As a young child, you believe that your parent is invincible. When that is proved wrong, it changes you.

 Yet there were other feelings too. In the days following her death, I developed a deep sense of closure. A heavy weight that I had been carrying my entire life was lifted. It felt good but was at odds with what a daughter is supposed to feel after her Mother’s death. I kept those complex thoughts and feelings hidden. I did not want to be judged. It was easier for me to sit and nod at the condolences.  Yet as I listened to mourner’s kind words, I became uncomfortable. Our life as a family was being idealized. There was more to the story, and it felt like that uncomfortable truth was being ignored.

Healing and time have given me a deeper understanding of my mindset.  Those complicated feelings were valid given my childhood environment. Living with someone in active addiction is a nightmare.

I was 24 years old, when my Mom passed away. She struggled with Alcohol the entire time that I knew her. Our relationship was unpredictable, confusing and painful. There were days I could feel her love deeply. There were also nights where I feel asleep crying, hating her.

When she was sober it was a mixed bag. Some days were good.  Where there was warm food and a smile waiting for me when I got home. Where I felt loved and cared for. It would never las though.  The longer she went without drinking, the more rigid things became. She would snap at us for being late to dinner or laughing too loud. She had lost control of her life due to addiction. She compensated for that by exerting an iron will on us. It made life suffocating and unbearable.

 Yet that was still better than the alternative. When Mom drank, she was a monster. She would blame us for things, invade our privacy, and scream for hours on end. In high school I would hang out at school, avoiding going home. When I got a cell phone, she called me constantly. I did not pick up, she left screaming voicemails. Our entire life as a family revolved around the uncertainty of her addiction.
For years we knew that her death was inevitable. She drank close to 30 beers and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes in a day. She was running herself into the ground. It was hard, but we knew that it was only a matter of time. You cannot cheat death indefinitely. It catches up with you.

When it happened, there was part of me that was ready.  I had been thinking about it deeply for years. Mentally preparing myself so that when I was faced with it, it did not hurt as much. My reaction to her death surprised me though. I had expected the pain, but not the relief.

Yet looking back, I understand why I felt that relief. Life close to an alcoholic is hard. Her death closed out a difficult part of my life. I no longer had to worry about what I would walk in on at my parents’ house. The fights were over. I would never have to call 911 when my parents got violent.  I did not have to prepare for her cruel words. Or worry that she would get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone. That vicious dynamic was finally at an end. It makes sense that I felt relief.

I understand it, but it is still hard to share that.  I worry that people will judge me for it because it is hard to understand. We are not supposed to feel a sense of relief that our parents are no longer here. I usually keep it secret because it is easier. I still feel a certain sense of guilt for it. despite our differences, and her addiction, I loved My Mom. People do not understand the complicated nature of coming from that legacy of addiction.
But I have come to understand that my feelings are valid. They make sense. They are part of me.
I miss her deeply. There are moments when I feel her loss deep within my bones. When I silently cry in my car, wishing I could hear her voice again. Yet I also feel a sense of relief. That I no longer have live within that dysfunction. That that pain and dysfunction is done. That she is no longer in pain.  I am thankful that now I get to look towards the future.

There is peace and healing now. I miss her deeply. But there is a sense of closure and relief.

I have realized there is room in my life for both.

Breaking Free of Codependency

 Growing up, my Moms Alcoholism set the pace for life. On her good days, things were quiet. Life was relatively normal. But the chaos and dysfunction were never far away.

 There is a closeness that comes when people experience trauma together. You get too close. Growing up we spent too much time together. My Mothers addiction created an environment where we depended on one another for survival. So much time that our personalities melded together. We became enmeshed, our individual traits unrecognizable. One unit simply just trying to make it until tomorrow.

We survived. I made it to adulthood, but the problem is that in the process of surviving I never learned who I was. That created so many issues for me in early adulthood issues that I am still overcoming. Children are supposed to become independent as they grow older. They are supposed to be given the time to explore the world around them. To build confidence in a safe, supportive environment.  They are supposed to be given the room to discover what they like and who they want to be.

My childhood lacked that. My life was centered around addiction, uncertainty and chaos. It was geared toward survival, not growth. I grew up in a survival mindset, and that is limiting. I learned to be cautious and to hold back. I learned to be quit and not to assert myself. Walking on eggshells was safer than getting hurt by putting my neck out there.

I learned that if I took care of others, I could assure my own safety. My value was derived from helping others, to protecting them. My value was derived from what I could do, not who I was.

All of this shaped who I became. My personality was geared towards survival. I did not take chances. I stayed quiet. I did everything in my power to fade into the background because that is where I felt safe.

 We live in a very individualized society, and I grew up with no sense of self.  Naturally I struggled. I thought I could find happiness in making others happy. I lacked boundaries, and overextended myself, and became miserable. I could not find my place in the world or set meaningful goals. I saw those around me doing well and thought there was something wrong with me. As I reached my late twenties, I became hopeless.

Thankfully, In my darkest moments, I started to look backwards. I discovered the ACOA program, and the work about Childhood ACES and Codependency. I began to realize that my childhood was having a direct affect on my present.  I was so used to serving others, that I had no idea how to take care of myself.

I have spent the last two years coming to terms with that legacy. With the damage that codependency inflicted.  I always gave too much, and it was rarely reciprocated. It brought me to a place that is hard to remember. Where I was tired and sick constantly. When I was depressed and thought I had no value as a person.

I had to fight my way back from that place.  In many ways I am still fighting my way out. I still struggle with my self confidence, and boundaries.  But now I recognize that I matters. That I deserve to be happy without having to prove it. I am still working on what that looks like, but I believe that will come with time.

After so many years of being helpless I am free.