Family Problems Affect Confidence

As a lady with a broken family, I really understand feeling fragile and broken and like you’re starting from a broken foundation. Confidence can feel extremely distant when you’re support system is either not present or harming who you are trying to be.

Family problems can result in a confusion of who you really are, what your purpose and place in life are, and the fears of not being strong enough or deserving enough to shine.

When my dad first relapsed I was 12 years old. My mom was addicted to alcohol and suddenly my best friend, my dad, was no longer there either. It was traumatic because I didn’t feel safe telling my friends or teachers, but I also didn’t feel safe in my own home.

I had no one to talk to and if you’re trying to be a superhero and hold it all together like I did, it’ll physically affect your well being. Being confident while you’re also experiencing bodily dysfunctions is nearly impossible for any human to handle.

Personally, I physically could not eat. I had a hole in my stomach and when I put food into my mouth my stomach would reject it and I would spit up before even starting to chew. I was under 80 pounds and people called me anorexic.

I had real anxiety attacks. I once went to the coffee shop and tried handing the cashier money and my body froze. I couldn’t lift my arm and my head felt so light I lost my words. I felt like I was in a spell.

I felt like I didn’t deserve my parents love and that I was a burden to the world and that’s why I was in my situation. I wrote about suicide.

So how did I overcome these anxieties, physical ailments, and serious life doubts? It came from within. It was a process of learning about myself and being reflective of my situation.

The greatest part of our story is that while we can’t control the events in them, we can control the way we shape our narrative around them and that’s where confidence lives. We can take control of our voice.

People that are affected by family problems are in every way deserving of confidence. If you’ve been struggling with confidence like I was I hope that I can help you.

Handling Negativity

The only negativity we have in our lives we create.

I can say that for certain because I have been positive for my whole life. Optimistic, with the ability to take any advice, insult, or negativity and overpower it with a smile and a genuine desire to see past the bad and look for the good.

But for the past year, I’ve seen the other side.

I began shifting towards feeding my insecurities instead of feeding my ambitions.

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It didn’t happen overnight. It isn’t as simple as heartbreak that makes you wake up the next day angry, or a miracle that makes us wake up happy. It’s a slow change in behavior that creeps into your life that without our permission we feed.

Owning our negativity should humble us and open us up to vulnerability. Sometimes we’re just not ready to open up. Maybe deep down we think people are against us but even deeper down we are prepared for a battle that isn’t coming.

In order to handle negativity, we have to see where it comes from.

Asking what we’re lacking in our lives will answer a lot of questions but takes a lot of looking in the mirror. Whats missing from the holes that we’re filling with negativity? Once we see what’s missing, are we ready to fill them again?

Our negativity doesn’t define who we are. Let’s prove our negativity wrong and feed the good wolf.

When you find yourself being negative, check yourself. No one person or thing will change you unless you fully understand you need to change yourself. Your mind will justify the anger so watch out for that. It can result in permanent residence in your head.

What brings you joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth? Can you do a better job of feeding the right wolf?

 

Collateral Beauty | The Void

When visiting my dad at the cemetery, I got lost. I had been there for 20 minutes, trecking through the snow in sneakers, frantically searching for my dad. It felt horrible. A parallel for the past two years.

I asked someone who was going for a run. After giving instructions, I began sobbing out of nowhere. The kind man asked who I was visiting. I explained it was my dads birthday. He pointed to the top of the hill and said, my daughter was only 32, she is buried over there. He said it fleetingly. As he tried to walk away, I took out my dads book.

Eager to share, I showed him how much I loved my dad. He looked at me, “I want to give you the best advice anyone has ever given me. When someone you love leaves this earth,” He began to cry. “It creates a huge hole inside of us. The key is not to fill the void. The key is to find your way around it.” He held his head high and I could see the straining in his neck to stop himself from sobbing.

It seemed to be the first time he had cried in a long time about his daughter. He lost her at such a young age. Before I could react, he wished me luck and continued his run. I wanted to talk more. He was hurting and so was I. I’m grateful for his advice.

Nothing will take the place of a loved one. Isn’t it amazing how different we all are? Our quirks, our voices, our reactions, our expressions. How I’ll always miss the way my dad would snarl in the cutest way when I said something crazy, “ohhh…. Ohhh.. Liiiinky!” How he would get excited and there’d be a chuckle, kind of like Goofy, in his voice. Especially if it was about something positive for my future. How he always made dirty jokes very loudly, and how he repeated himself in a high pitch voice insistently in stores.

Of course, I’ll never fill that void. What I’d like to explain to my friend at the cemetery, is, that hole that is there within us is room for vulnerability. It’s the space that makes collateral beauty. For the moments like we had. Where out of nowhere I  felt the urge to take out my dads letters, even if I was told he didn’t care.

 

 

 

Collateral Beauty | California Friend

 

I called a Lyft to pick me up at my apartment on March 23rd. We started chatting and he told me that he was here from California. As any New Englander would do, we joked about why anyone would move here from California with this kind of weather (even though we all know why… we’re the best.) My Lyft driver said quietly, “My sister has cancer.”

Suddenly my vulnerable heart and his connected in silence.

We talked about his fears for his sister, how the two of them were adopted by Jewish parents, and how tough of a year it’s been.

It felt like fate that of all days and all the Lyft drivers I could’ve gotten I was in the car with someone who needed to be open as intensely as I did.

Finally, I explained, I’m going to celebrate my dads birthday for the first time at a cemetery today.

Again the beautiful silence.

Then he says, “I lost my mom in October too. Cancer. She didn’t want treatment.”

The pain my new friend was going through but the strength he showed, it was admirable. It made me feel like everything was okay, and I think it made him feel the same.

I learned a lot from my friend. His sister is extremely strong and optimistic. He is here in Massachusetts, just the two of them, supporting one another. His mom was amazing. Very strong but also very stubborn.

I showed my friend the book that I am writing for my dad. As tears welled and my throat clenched, he suddenly said, “I feel stupid. I didn’t save or record any of the memories I had with my mom.”

Wiping tears from his eyes, I explained, “the best thing you can do is to keep her spirit alive because that is what’ll always carry on. Opening up to me and allowing me to open up, too, is what makes your mom look down on you and smile with pride.”

It’s hard to open up to strangers, especially about losing a loved one, but when you do, sometimes, beautiful things can happen. Strangers have parallels in their lives that you wouldn’t believe. When two people who are going through struggle connect, they become connected.

My friend made my visit to my dad a lot easier. When I sat down with my dad I had a full heart. Inspired, and happy that we could be vulnerable and open. People who are struggling don’t want sympathy or advice. They want to feel a human connection, hope, and understanding.

Sharing your story will be inspiring. Feel great about sharing memories of someone who is no longer with you. It may be tough, but do it for their soul. Do it for the person who’s listening who might be losing their loved one.

 

You are Good Enough

You can be absolutely perfect but not good enough for someone.

It doesn’t mean you lack confidence if your imperfections scream at you when you’re around certain people. How people make you feel about yourself is an indicator of whether you need to remove someone from your life.

“It doesn’t matter what people think about you.” That’s a lie. It does matter what people we care about think of us. If the people you care about are making you feel like you’re not good enough you are risking personal growth.

The longer you let these people’s perception swallow you, the more anxious and unsure of yourself you’ll feel.

These aren’t the people that give you honest criticism. Those people help you grow. These people that give you a bad feeling. They want you to talk, but not to listen or to help. You can see in their eyes they are waiting to hear you open up so that they can celebrate where you fall short.

We’re better than that. We have accomplishments. We have a purpose! We have good to give to the world. We have an impact. We are capable of being outstand and insanely irresistible.

There are moments that take us away from the feelings of doubt. We can escape Have you ever gone home from a place or from being with someone who really cares about you and you remember how you had forgotten about those feelings because in that time you were shining and glowing with sureness? That’s because those places and those people are the ones that should be in your life.

Your confidence, your talent, your skills, your uniqueness haven’t gone anywhere. You still have it all in your possession.

You are absolutely good enough. You can make mistakes. You can fail. Apologies are meant for acceptance of your past actions and improvement of your future actions. Fail and get back up but don’t be fooled by the people who watched you fail and wanted you to stay down.

I wear your judgments like a mask
My downfall is my loyalty 
To be better for you
You tell me what you don’t like about me
And it hits me that I did everything right
And so I search in my mind chaotically 
Trying to vindicate myself that I was wrong
Because my loyalty is greater than my pride
And I just want to be wrong
So that I can apologize
And everything would go back to the way it was
But sometimes you just lose 
I lost
I can’t stop you from hurting me 
And now I’m stuck under this hideous mask
Wearing it like it defines me
I know one day I can take it off
But right now it’s a part of who I am 
– Leanna

Be kind to everyone but be careful who you give your heart to. Remember to smile.

 

 

One Suitcase for 89 Years

My grandpa is leaving the house he’s lived in for the past 12 years. Moving into our house was the beginning of a new chapter of his life – the loss of his wife and his independence. My grandpa could’ve worked till 90 if it weren’t for the circumstances around him. Mentally, my grandpa is still sharp as a tac. He still gives cashiers a hard time for using calculators and will have the math done before they even have time to react.

When he had knee replacement surgery they asked him questions to see if he was healthy. “What is the year?” “What is your name?” “Who is the president?” They asked him. Grandpa responded and said, “Ok, my turn. If you don’t get this right you stop asking me questions.” The doctors smirked in confusion. “Who is the secretary of state?” No answer. Grandpa chuckled, his eyes sparkling and looking around with satisfaction. The nurses giggled and the doctors confirmed that grandpa was definitely ok.

The new chapter of his life meant he was living with me, my mom, and my dad. It was 2006. My grandpa didn’t really see how bad my dad’s addiction was until this time. The woman that hid all the pain from my grandpa was gone and he suddenly suffered the truth of my dad’s disease.  He resigned his license and any friends he had. He didn’t give up. As he’ll tell you he was living for me. That’s the kind of human he is. Old fashioned, family-first, sacrifice everything for others. So, he didn’t give up. It’d be unfair to say that. But he did stop living for himself.

It was too painful to talk to the many friends he had for fear of the questions they’d ask. He couldn’t bear to hear the question, “How is Slavic? How are you?” He couldn’t frame his mind around any answer that didn’t make him sick to his stomach.

He has been sitting in the same room for 12 years with not a single soul besides his broken family to turn to. He saw his daughter-in-law and son fight about money, drugs, and keeping secrets from me about the truth of the situation. He watched his son overdosing. Physically at the age of 87, my grandpa lifted my dad from his bedside and cried for him to get help. The man who didn’t believe in religion prayed to save him.

Along the way, we had good times too. We’ve had successful holidays together, laughs with the whole family, game nights, and two graduations. Grandpa especially loves to hear that my boyfriend and I have plans to start a family of our own. When we took grandpa to get a haircut recently, I texted Eric across the room. Grandpa’s eyes lit up. He smiled so big and looked at Eric then back at me. “He’s not looking yet!” Then he looked back at Eric to see his response when he got the text. Eric began to speak and grandpa laughed saying, “No you have to text your answer!” It was a clear indication how much my grandpa adored love. And he loved my grandma Anna more than anything in the world.

And he has a brother that is a gift to the world that you couldn’t understand unless you really understand what the cure to heartbreak is. Consistent love and acknowledgment. Without fail his brother calls 3 times a day at the same times to have any conversation that is left to have. David and grandpa are proud to say “If you ask us what we talk about, don’t ask! We don’t know!” That’s what’s beautiful about their relationship. There are no excuses to miss out on any words not said.

My grandpa is now picking up his bags and at the age of almost 89, he is starting over again.

We talked on the phone today and lately, our conversations have been filled with emotion. Today he called and in a stutter, he explained his fears. Finally, with a stern voice, he said “I have one suitcase. I’m 89 and I fit everything in my 89 years into one suitcase. Do you understand what that feels like?”

I knew he meant that he feels like he has nothing to show for his 89 years. He’s suffered so much loss and sacrificed his success in the USSR to make sure his family would have a chance in America. He worked for 30 years at the same factory as an engineer. Some days he worked 16 hours. He was popular, smart, and had so many friends that loved him. And he feels like he has nothing to show for it.

But that isn’t true. The beauty of having one suitcase at the age of 89 shows his bravery, his pain, and his ability to fight. That suitcase couldn’t even begin to fill the memories and the legacy that I will not fail to pass along to my family one day.

The Last Letter

My dad lost his arm after an overdose that left him unconscious. He fell directly on his arm and stayed there for two whole days before he regained consciousness. From there he spent over a month in a coma-like state. When he was released, he hated himself.

(These images are 2016 when he spent a month in the hospital after a bad fall)

His arm that hung lifeless by his side along with his early onset Parkinsons Disease, I knew that I wouldn’t be receiving one of those beautiful letters that gave me hope and confidence for a long time. I didn’t realize that I’d never get another letter again.

Regardless, I felt an urge to write my dad a letter. I’d think about it relentlessly and for every time I lied to myself that work was more important than that letter, I despised myself.

A mentor that came into my life at quite possibly the perfect time instantly could see that I wasn’t focused. He called me out, something that is rare for people to do and something that I admire and search for in any relationship especially work. He said make flashcards of all the things you need to do and know you’ll only do one thing. He didn’t ask me what I was writing but I ended up with one thing that trumped all my work.

It was to write and send my dad a letter.

My dad was and always will be the number one person, thing, and faith I have in my lifetime. I am so grateful for that and the addiction he suffered from made me realize that even more. You know that phrase you always want something you can’t have? Or… you only miss something once it’s gone. I felt like I had been living those quotes to the fullest of their potential for a long time.

Every time my dad ended up in the hospital, every time I found out my dad was unconscious for weeks, every time my dad was numb to my words because of his depression, every time he was high… it felt like I was losing the person I loved and that I missed him so much even though he was right there.

Writing helped tremendously. I could write to my dad as if he were the daddy I remembered. Writing to people (handwritten) lets us slow down. It lets us express ourselves and envision the person we are writing to. Have you ever written a letter to someone you’re angry at? By the end, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how you aren’t angry anymore. Writing to my dad was always a happy experience and I loved being able to express my love to him.

Along with the letter I sent him a card as you can see below.

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The letter is what I had said I was too busy for but when I looked at what I really cared about, it was expressing my feelings to my dad. There’s no hiding what you care about and if you do, you’ll feel mundane and have that feeling like something is missing.

After he received his letter, he texted me this:

My dearest Daughter I stayed in my room for two days and did not want to even get up because I am so depressed I finally got up just now and Grandpa told me that there is a letter from You so I just read it. I love You so much my Baby , You are the only thing in my life that makes me happy . I always brag about You to everyone . I am a very lucky person . I thank the good lord above for a doughter like You . I only wish that I could live up to what You deserve . I love You very much . Thank You so much for Your letter . You have no idea how much it means to me. Thank You very, very much for Your letter I love You with all my heart I think You know that . Thank You Lord for my Daughter. My love I wish I could hug You and cry, instead I get to cry by myself . I realize how much pain I caused to my family , I hate myself in a way that only I can understand . I love You my Baby , I failed You my Angel , please forgive me

 

I think hearing that my dad thinks I deserved better than him is impossible for me to comprehend because to me he is perfect and maybe a bit of the truth about what I believe is that I wouldn’t be considered a strong person if it weren’t for what I went through. In fact- it’s not a bit of the truth- it’s the whole truth.

When I told John this, he said that I should accept that he believed that I deserved better. And that I should still believe I deserve the best- from everyone- especially myself.

It seems impossible to expect better from my dad because of the unconditional love he gave me. But when it comes to friends- I am a mess. I can’t seem to have real friendships and that’s been my hardest battle. It choked me up when he said I deserve the best because honestly, I don’t know if I expect too little or too much. I want to tell you the story of how weak I really feel because I deserve to be honest with myself.

My dads fall happened at the end of May. For the last week of May, I was in Colorado. Then I spent a week with Eric while he had surgery. Immediately after that, I flew out to Chicago, then I came back to watch Eric get sworn in as a lawyer and within 24 hours I was in Washington DC for a week in a half.

By now it’s the end of June and I am dealing with bad anxiety. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever felt, but I was on the road which made it uneasy. I would spend at least 2 hours on the phone with doctors and social workers who were trying to understand my dad’s situation. While I was in Chicago I remember sitting at a coffee shop trying to quietly whisper that this wasn’t the first time my dad had problems and that I was more worried that upon being released he’d kill himself.

I felt hopeless and guilty by the time I got home from my trips. All I wanted to do was be told it was okay and feel supported. But that is in fact not what I came home to.

On June 20th I came home and I found a half drunken bottle of Vodka in my room which was alarming. It made me feel uneasy. Since I live with roommates a bedroom is the only sacred place you have. It felt like that feeling that someone had broken in- someone uninvited was in your space. It hurt not knowing answers. Worse than that, I overheard one of my friends say that my friend would be way better off living with her than me.

I was crushed, but being a coward, I tried making myself smaller. It’s when I really first decided to minimize. Get rid of anything that made me take up more space and that made my life more meaningful- making a positive out of a negative I suppose. I wanted to make up for why I was being talked about by seeming less of a burden. But still- nothing will fill the void of hearing people you care about talk about you.

On July 8th my mom left for Washington State to be with her family. I was so happy for her, but that was the last time I knew we were a family. Dysfunctional of course, but now it wasn’t unified dysfunction and I could taste my dad’s downfall. I visited her to say goodbye and stopped by to see my dad first.

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For 15 minutes my dad stood here like this, hollow as if he had been in a concentration camp. Staring blankly. Dirt on his face. Lifeless. It scared me to see him like this because unlike heroin which made him nod off and come back, he was frozen. He looked starving. For both hope and food. His arm unbandaged lifelessly hung by his side.

On July 15th my dad texted me:

BabySo, I am so sorry for everything I put U through , please forgive me .. I am serious , I just feel like my end is near and I had to at least apologize.. I love U my darling

I can only stand so much. I felt like I was losing everything (besides my love, Eric who would bring me flowers for most of the month of July to cheer me up).

In August I was distant, overwhelmed, scared and trying to make lemonade out of lemons. I visited grandpa and dad and knew I was the key to their livelihood. I was trying to flourish at work and trying to be the happiest I could be while still making myself as small as possible.

On August 26th I ditched my best friend on her birthday.

I guess it’s no surprise that when I was a bad friend and called out for it, I exploded with anger. I’ve never been a bad person but I certainly have been a bad friend and I’m ashamed to admit it.

It hurt me because, in that instance of already feeling vulnerable for being a bad friend, my friend looked me in the eyes with hate and said: “You just feel so bad for yourself because of your dad.”… wow. It didn’t hurt because it was true, it hurt because what I had thought I was doing was begging for support and love and acceptance and help. I couldn’t have been if my own friend believes that I feel bad for myself. If I felt bad for myself, I would’ve given up a long time ago on everything. I would probably still be on disability and not be living in Boston.

I felt like I lost two friends because I didn’t know how to tell them what I deserve, what I want, and what my boundaries are.

Eric and I talk about how hurt I am a lot. A lot of our deep conversations lead back to my insecurities about ruining the friendships I’ve had.

“I hate that I feel like I ruin my friendships,” I said out loud at dinner one night a few weeks ago. I locked eyes with him and looked for an answer in his. You could tell he wanted to help me but he couldn’t give me an answer. Instead, he did what he’s best at and made me feel like there’s a reason for the way I am and that its okay.

He said, “Your dad was loyal to a fault and you saw that. You saw your dad leave you at such a young age when he went to prison but he was still so loyal. So maybe you expect the people around you to either be extremely loyal or to leave you completely.”

I teared up. Exactly.

Eric has said it before- I need to stop acting like the world is against me. Sometimes I pin myself against the world because I want to take on everything. I want to be a superhero for everyone but then when I can’t express what I need in return I become sad.

So as I’m sitting here without my dad giving me advice, I’m searching to find the answers within.

It came back to that last letter and how disappointed I’d be in myself if I hadn’t expressed myself in those words. My strengths are that I am as genuine as they come and wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m also very emotionally invested in everything I do.

If it weren’t for those letters where my dad and I were 100% honest with each other, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to love each other as much as we did and have as deep of a connection as we did. Looking back on it terrifies me to think in my 25 years we only spent 12 years together. But, because of the letters, it feels like we had the full 25 years and an eternity lives through them.

So how are these two situations related at all? Because when we are going through something that we don’t understand and that hurts us it makes us lose ourselves and makes us feel like we don’t belong in our own bodies. For me, it’s losing friends but for you maybe you’re being fired or you’re going through a divorce. It makes you feel like what you had believed to be true wasn’t at all. You doubt yourself. It affects your confidence.

I was forced to really revisit my priorities today and to remember that letter I wrote and how because I wrote it made me be able to do everything else better. I am flourishing in all aspects of my life but because I can’t process and put aside losing my friends, I have a void in my heart and my soul.

I lost my dad for God’s sake and I dealt with that better than this.

I keep trying to hush these feelings and prioritize other things before addressing my insecurities. Because of that, I’ve tired myself out. Instead of being honest by writing down my feelings on paper, I’ve been trying to tell myself I’m okay in my head. I am a positive person to a fault and I will always say everything is okay- and truly believe it in my brain.

It’s just not. John has brought that to light.

I have been losing touch with my positivity and momentum to change the world. I find myself getting angry at little things. And I know it’s because I keep asking myself questions that make me doubt myself because of my insecurities. Do my friends keep canceling plans with me because they don’t care? Did my friend spitefully text me “Sending you good vibes” when my dad died? I didn’t want good vibes. I wanted to be hugged. Did people not see that? Is every compliment I hear another lie until you stab me in the back? Then it gets worse. My friends don’t even believe in me, how are other people going to? I can’t even get my friends to come to an event, how am I going to get total strangers to want to? Those aren’t healthy questions to have in my head.

I don’t need to be loved or forgiven but I do need to take care of myself and stop acting like I am okay. A lot of people think I’m a strong person because of what I’ve been through with my parents but that was easy. Feel bad for myself? I had a man in my life that even while he was dying he prioritized my well being. That’s pure beauty I was apart of.  It’s easy for me to love someone when that person is never going to betray you or leave you or ever stop loving you.

It’s nearly impossible for me to accept that people I care about talk bad about me. That is a self-mutilating weakness. It’s my Achilles heel. I hope that I let go of my unrealistic expectations or if I’m going to have them, at least express myself better. I hope that I never have to write a last letter to a friend.

We’re All Like Hot Air Balloons

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“Like hot air balloons, all of us are engineered to soar to great heights. Unfortunately, many of us ‘sandbag’ ourselves. We do things, we think things, and we believe things that hold us down. we get insecure, fearful, and jealous. We judge people, think negatively and make excuses for our unhappiness. we become our biggest obstacle. Imagine what it would be like if we got out of our own way.”- Scott Greenberg

Stop Sandbagging Yourself

  • Think of what makes you truly happy- daily, monthly, yearly.
  • Write down your favorite accomplishments.
  • Decide what you can improve.

Soar

  • Put away your phone.
  • Be present in your community.
  • Journal your gratitude.
  • Send letters to the people you love.

 

You CAN Stop Judging

 

Valentines Day is My Favorite

Valentines Day is my favorite holiday. The unpopular vote, but I have a few reasons why and it’s not because I have a boyfriend that I spend a romantic day with. I haven’t done a personal post in a long time, but tis’ the holiday!

 

1. It’s not an official holiday so people are still working and people go out in public. I love seeing lots of people. Family holidays are great, but making a work day special is fun to me.

2. It’s not a drinking holiday like St. Patricks Day which of course I love because a lot of drunk people in the streets of Boston is overwhelming, scary, and less magical.

3. It’s about love and I loveeeee love! My dad is always going to be my number one Valentine but I have lots of number ones. Including grandpa, Alison, Sofia, Amanda, Eric… etc. Don’t forget that this day of love is for friends and family too! Don’t be selfish and drown is sorrows of being single- embrace the ones you love and make them feel special.

4. I love dressing up in pinks and reds!

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5. I love the funny pun cards. Here are some of my favorites.

 

 

What Society Thinks VS. Who He is to Me 

I wrote this about a year before my dad died. I was going to change this so that it is past tense since now he is gone now. I think the message is even more clear as you read below how much help people like my dad really need before they are gone too and writing is the only thing that keeps another broken heart going. I have been told I don’t know how to ask for help. But that doesn’t mean that inside I was literally exhausted inside begging and screaming for something to make everything a little bit easier.

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I looked people in the eyes and they ask, “How is your dad?” and it made me a little bit angry because it’s as if I could paint it black and white. Not good was never enough to describe how “not good” it was. And so even though sometimes I’d lie and say, he’s doing okay now, I knew I was always one call away from losing him. It made me angry because no matter what my answer was it wouldn’t change how much that person understood. What I really wanted was someone to shake me and say, “Let’s go see your dad. I want to feel your pain.”

An addict needs to want help before they can get help. My dad was begging for help. Unfortunately, he thought the only help he deserved was to stop being a burden to the world.

Here’s My Dad What Society Thinks vs. Who He is To Me

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For the first 9 months of 2016, the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths was 1,005, with an estimated additional 392 to 470 deaths.

Since Massachusetts began the pilot program seven years ago, there have been more than 2,500 reported overdose reversals.

My dad counts for 4 of those 2,500 reported

He doesn’t even know that I know that, but if it weren’t for Narcan, I would have already buried him.

In 1992, my dad was in prison for crimes he committed under the influence

In 2007 my dad was on the front page of the local newspaper for assault

In 2010 my dad was sentenced to prison for kidnapping, assault, and burglary

In 2016 my dad was released and overdosed 4 times

What does the future hold for my dad?

My dad, by society label, is a criminal

But this is who my dad is to me

The man who wrote me a letter every week to tell me how much he loved me.

The man who taught me how to ride a bike, to ice-skate, to play softball, and to stick up for myself.

And for the things he couldn’t teach me, he made sure someone did.

Singing lessons, dance lessons, math tutors, and appointments at makeup salons to learn the right way to do makeup.

The man that laminated every award I won in school and kept them in a book.

The man that took me to a Britney Spears, Shakira, Missy Elliott and Beyonce concert.

The man who cemented a basketball court in our backyard because I wanted to learn to play but didn’t want to join the team.

The man who sat by my bedside all night and held my hand saying every single great quality I had when my first boyfriend broke my heart.

The man that would come to my high school and leave little notes and flowers in my car window to let me know he cares.

The man that cried the first time he saw me in a prom dress.

My dad has always been my hero. He is just too sick for us to appreciate that together.

The two sides of my dad made me completely aware of people struggling with identity. No one is completely evil. No one deserves to be treated by what they are labeled as. If it weren’t for my dad, I wouldn’t love as hard, or be as compassionate to those in need, or an understanding to those with a broken past.

Some could say my dad is an immigrant who deserves to be deported. But I say my dad is the light of my life, my reason for being, and the only person to keep me strong when I want to give up.

Addiction is an issue that needs extreme attention, especially for kids that are trying to understand their parents’ disease as I struggled to do for so many years. I was fortunate that my dad can fight so hard to always get back on his feet, but I know there are addicts that can’t. It’s not their fault and as a child of an addict, I need to be the voice to say we can we will and we have learned to love and understand those with addiction.

If you know a parent that is struggling with addiction or a child that is witnessing addiction and needs help, please let them know I am their voice, that I am there for them, and that I am always here to talk.


My dad was my best friend and to me- a teddy bear. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that along with everyone else we’re begging for a different outcome. It’d be such an honor in my dad’s name that instead of children like me saying my dad will either end up in prison or dead, can really have high hopes on saying that my dad will be okay.

Maybe our way of looking at addiction is wrong.

From my dad’s last phone call you can hear his fear of being put back in prison. It was worse than death. And everyone knew he didn’t need prison to help him change his ways. It’s just not a solution. My dad made his bad decisions when using drugs- not because he was a bad person.

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