A New Look at Addiction to Consider

Maybe we’re looking at addiction wrong. Would it be insulting or hurtful to the addict if I said I am anticipating their relapse? Maybe not anticipating but maybe I’m sort of expecting it, but not in the way that I am wishing bad things or not believing in the person to fight the battle full force.

Steve Olbinsky Sobriety

In the last months of my dad’s life, I no longer felt a pit in my stomach that my dad was using drugs. I anticipated he was. The scariest part of his addiction wasn’t the drug use anymore, it was his desire to die. He was using drugs not to get high but to feel like he could hold on for just one more day. Physically he was down to almost 100 pounds, and mentally he couldn’t stand himself. I recorded our last conversation we had where he painfully told me his desire to close his eyes while weeping for my forgiveness. He said, “I tried to like lay down and I started to stop taking all the pills and everything.”

I anticipated that my dad would use drugs again but is that really even the issue? Because an addiction is the disease but is the drug use even the day to day issue? We’re all living to find a reason to continue living. With this disease, living becomes a dependency to a substance. So to fight that dependency it takes giving up something that you depend on and that takes a kind of power that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on to achieve unless we’ve been in those shoes before. Why can’t you just stay sober? It’s only like holding your breath from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. And good luck catching your breath and have a pleasant dream at the same time.

I had 5 years to decide how I was going to handle my dad’s release from prison and his freedom to make good or bad choices with the tough task of re-entering society. We wrote to each other every week just about and we talked about the things we wanted to do and the way we loved each other so full we could take over the world if we wanted to. In a way, I think that’s why it didn’t work out. Our love was way too powerful.

While he was in prison I wrote this blog post, why I won’t be upset if my dad relapses. It was my eternalized emancipation to his addiction. I wrote about the realities. A drug addiction shouldn’t ruin a bond like the one my dad and I had. I knew I couldn’t enable him. I wrote about the emotions. I understood I’d feel a bit heartbroken inside if he were to relapse. But most importantly I wrote what I would hold on as a truth. I would never let his addiction measure how much he loves me and the chapter doesn’t end until the day that I give up. And here I am continuing to write about my dad even after his passing.

I loved and love my dad more than anything in this world. I don’t even fear death anymore. That’s how our strong our bond was. He fulfilled my life and he gave me my riches- his love, his advice, his heart. I hold onto his letters, photos, and notes like treasured artifacts.

Despite this crazy love, I can confidently tell you that I anticipated his relapse. And to be honest, it made my life so much easier- and maybe his too. It wasn’t something I ever said to him. It should really go as an unspoken truism if you choose to adopt. I no longer had the ups and downs and celebrations with every day that passed that he wasn’t using. I also didn’t have the disappointments either.

When my dad and I went to Bruno Mars, he was excitedly choosing which outfit he should wear for his big night. He had on one shirt but when he decided he wanted to wear something Bruins related, he threw on another over. His frail body looked as though the shirt was weighing him down, but he was so excited to be back in TD Garden it didn’t seem to bother him much. He went over to his pills and he said, “Leanna should I take my pills?” I didn’t know what to say. My heart was beating fast and I had to take a big deep breath. He was looking at me so deeply and so desperately and yet I didn’t know the answer he wanted to hear. I really think he wanted to hear that if he didn’t take the pills everything would be okay and he wouldn’t be in pain but we both knew that wasn’t true. I calmly, with a choke in my throat, said, “Daddy, take what you need so that you’re comfortable at the concert.” It was such a scary feeling to know that if he didn’t take those pills he could’ve been in agonizing pain. He could’ve had a heart attack or a breakdown.

The day after the concert, he was so happy. The happiest I had heard him since he lost his license and totaled his car. He was singing, celebrating, and appreciating how beautiful life can be. He said, “This is what life is about, Leanna.” About 2 days later, I tried calling and didn’t get an answer. I knew that he was using again because if he wasn’t I would’ve had a text back instantly. Regardless, I continued to text him, “I love you, daddy!” I didn’t feel an ounce of regret, anger, or disappointment. I just wanted my dad to be okay, and I was waiting for his next call.

I was my dad’s reason for living. I gave his life as much meaning as I could. I would’ve given him my life. I would’ve traded my beautiful apartment, all my possessions, all my confidence and learned skills to let help him understand how much he meant to me. I tried articulating it in every way possible. The last letter I sent him I said if I could have the richest, smartest, dad that was a Doctor I wouldn’t trade him for you for even one second.

So what if we all stop putting so much pressure on sobriety as the solution? Could it potentially give loved ones more sleep at night? And more importantly, can it help an addict to feel like it’s as rare as it really is to not relapse? I just think it’s crazy that we ask so much. We think our love is enough to make a person want to be sober. Sobriety is desired by all addicts who’ve seen the pain they’ve caused. Your love is not a measurement of sobriety. Your support is, however, a measurement of love. But maybe we redefine support. Maybe we can accept that helping our loved one find meaning is more of the mission rather than helping an addict be sober. 

In the hospital when my dad was pronounced brain dead, my grandpa with tears streaming down his face said, Leanna. You saw dad different. I never thought he would die, I thought every time he was sober it’d be the last time and he would stay. But you accepted him and loved him for who he was.

Here is another glimpse of the last call my dad and I had. One day you’ll hear the pain and see my reaction as I accepted this nightmare but until I’m ready, read our words and please understand that addiction is more than using drugs. It takes away your life and puts you in a prison of depression.

Steve Olbinsky Last Phone Call

[Dad] I’m just so tired. I’m so… They took my f***ing license. Without a license, I’m like a fish out of water. I have no way of even attempting to even get a job. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything with the way my arm is. I’m… I don’t want to do drugs. I don’t want to have relapses anymore. I don’t want to have nothing anymore. I just like. I was really sick in bed for days. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t do anything. I just like…

[Leanna] It’s okay daddy I’m here for you

[Dad] if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t even want to live. I can’t do that to you. I just can’t leave you. That’s the only thing that’s stopping me from… from just … it’d be so nice to just go to sleep and not worry about nothing anymore. Not have any more problems. Not have any more letdowns. Not have any more you know?

My Inspiration: Kehlani

kehlani boston

We all have people who inspire us dearly. Most of my inspirations come from music and people in my day to day life. I love people that express themselves freely and creatively. What do you love and admire? Who is your favorite artist and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing my inspiration, Kehlani. She’s an up and coming artist and she cares passionately about human beings. She is young, talented, and extremely caring. Check out Kehlani’s Instagram. If there is any natural disaster or large issue that she can speak on she is the first to give a helping hand and offer up all her resources. The Rising Hope Curations Playlist I made for her is below. You can follow it on Spotify.

I’m so excited that I’m meeting Kehlani tonight! She is coming to Royale in Boston and I went all out and got a VIP ticket because how many times will you get to meet your favorite artist in the world?! Probably not often! I’m not sure if I’ll ever go VIP again, but for Kehlani it was a no-brainer. It’s funny because normally when you find an artist you love, you’ve listened to his or her music first. It’s funny because I first heard her interview on “On the Come Up,” on HotNewHipHop. and instantly fell in love. Watch it below.

I was hooked to hearing her story when I found out she was only 19, was super down to earth, and knowing that she wanted to be a dancer. Hearing more about her story and where she came from, it struck a cord in my heart. We’ve had a really similar story, although I can’t compare mine to hers at all. On a very broad level, she’s had a hard upbringing with parents in and out of her life but always with the unconditional love and from that I believe is where her passion towards life comes. Just the other day she tweeted about being over passionate and it’s true for me too.

Here’s a post that I wrote last year in September when I first heard Kehlani on the radio and had a total geeky-fan moment!

 

O-M-G. HOT 97 has been playing Kehlani and same with JAM’N 945 and I’d like to take a moment to brag and boast about how obsessed with her I have been.
➡️ First of all, how did I find out about her music?
I found Kehlani while watching interviews on On The Come Up by HotNewHipHop.com last April!
➡️ Why did I fall in love with Kehlani?
How real she is. In the interview she is like 18 and has already been through so much and keeps it so real. She knows she’s young and has to learn but she is also so humble for how much talent she has and how far she had me even at that age.
➡️ What are my top favorite things about her?
❤️1. Obviously her music. Her style of storytelling and meaningful lyrics are rare plus she has a beautiful voice. I love how she admits she can’t rap despite people assuming so by all her tattoos. She’s r&b and I love it.
❤️2. She has always been loyal to her crew. She was once in a band and on a talent show she was asked to go forward but solo and she declined without hesitation. It’s all or nothing.
❤️3. Her and I have had similar experiences in life and similar to me, she loves her parents and appreciates life for everything it has to offer, even the negatives. She doesn’t regret anything and she has a positive outlook on everything.
❤️4. She uses social media to encourage people to do the right things and promotes happiness and kindness always.
❤️5. Her style is OG and I love it. She can wear whatever and pull it off with confidence. She keeps everything interesting and embraces her creativity.
➡️ What are my top favorite songs? In this order:
🎵 1. Unconditional (My dad has always shown unconditional love even with everything going on. That’s a true man who loves his daughter, and that’s why I show most people I meet love) 
🎵 2. Down For You
🎵 3. Be Alright
🎵 4. Yet
🎵 5. The Letter (Note: I recently played this in the car with my dad and almost started crying)
🎵 6. You Should Be Here
🎵 7. Jealous
🎵 8. How That Taste
🎵 9. Alive
🎵 10. Bright

Of course this was before the release of her new album, SSS, Sweet Sexy Savage. Now I have a whole new selection of songs that I love that you should check out for yourself. Her music isn’t just about success, like a lot of artists are sticking to. She tells a real story. She’s a human and expresses human experience in her music that we can all relate to. Sometimes I’m having a bad day and I instantly start playing her song in my head, 24/7. It’s okay to not be okay. This playlist below is one that I curated in honor of Kehlani. I can’t wait to meet you tonight! I can’t imagine the weirdness for artists when someone is so excited to meet them and you don’t know them but they think they know you. I hope to just be able to say thank you for your realness and relation I feel towards you. Eminem sort of got me through my anger and confusion and heartbreak as a child and now I can reflect on things with your music, Kehlani!

 

kehlani boston

LISTEN TO THE KEHLANI INSPIRED PLAYLIST HERE

 

I love your silliness and light heartedness and how your so open about constantly changing. Yes, we’re young! So of course we’re living and learning. Passionate people fall down fast. When they are down, they’re down and you remind me that that’s okay, and quite honestly that keeps me up.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet My Parents: Steve and Angela

As I’ve said before, it’s important to never forget where you come from. Whether you were raised by the two people who made you or you’ve just had someone in your life that is has been there every step of the way since you were little, they are permanently imprinted on your heart and to take the time to cherish those people in your life should take a priority in your life. Mending and maintaining those relationships are so important. After all- you wouldn’t be who you are without them.

I’ve been so lucky to have both of my parents in my life. I’d like to introduce you to them as they have made me into a human and shaped my morals and values so that I love myself.

My life has been filled with love. So much love I could explode. So much love that, even when people are mean, hurtful, or cynical I can still find a bright side and accept a person for who they are. We’re all here to do something extraordinary with our lives. We can take what makes us love hard and live passionately and turn it into an ambition that we’ll let no obstacle stand in our way. Our love comes from something in our adolescence that we’ve embedded in our hearts to love. Our passion stems from what hurts us most. When we hit absolute breaking point, to the point where we don’t think we can live on, but we do that’s when passion is created. The love and pain come from my family. My passion, my love, and my ambitions in life, all stem from my parents.

IMG_4788.JPG

We don’t choose the family we’re born into but I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. I’ve written about my dad’s drug addiction and about the pain of not being close to my mom over the years, but I really want to start this 2017 blog revival off with the things that I love about these two amazing humans who each have a story of their own that led them to where they are.

We all come from somewhere and somehow, no matter how hard life starts out, there’s something about our past that we can embrace and take with us on this journey to mold us into who we want to be. We’re a product of our environment and genes. It’s up to us to take what we’re made from, polish it, and embrace the heck out of it.

 

Meet My Parents and What I Love About Them: 

Meet my Mom Angela Lucero

25266_419894827541_5399161_n.jpg

My mom is the smartest woman I know. She knows every answer to Jeopardy and if you ask her about a movie she will have answers faster than IMDb. She’s never been the type to ask people for advice. Even if she’s conflicted, she sticks by her decisions and doesn’t turn to anyone for approval. I love that about her and I’ve never noticed till my friend recently pointed out that she loves how I just do things when I say I want to. I get that from her and I’ve never appreciated that about my mom till recently. She thrives on getting better. No matter how sick she gets, she loves to impress herself and go above and beyond what the doctors expect of her. I know a lot of people say their mom is the best cook ever but I challenge that. My mom is Mexican but gosh, does she cook Italian well. In fact, I didn’t even realize that most of our meals at Christmas were Italian dishes till I moved to North End and I pieced together lasagna and stuffed shells to Italian. She’ll never sit down to eat with us because she’ll be cooking until everyone has had their dessert and she has cleaned the entire kitchen spotless. I myself love cooking for friends and I now see the enjoyment my mom has when she did this for us. It’s about creating the conversation without even being there. You do it with a meal full of love and that’s the most rewarding part. My mom’s sense of humor is dirty and twisted, just like I like it. Most importantly, the way my mom raised me as a baby is something that will always amaze me. Watching the tapes of her talking to me and telling me to take care of my dolls, taking them for a walk and making sure to tell them they look beautiful. Her voice has more love than a lullaby when she speaks to me.

angela lucero

My favorite memories are in the car singing down the winding mountains in Washington State and when I really needed a cup of tea to do homework, she was always by my bed side. She made me soup and never forgot to bring me the pepper because she knows I love to spice everything up. Splashing around in the pool was always an adventure for us. She taught me how to swim, which is a bigger accomplishment than I thought! Recently I overheard co-workers talking about how nearly impossible it is to teach your own how to swim. When there were thunderstorms at night we’d hide underneath the plastic row boat and blow bubbles under the water at each other. The pool light made the raindrops glisten and the fun we were having removed any fear of lightening striking us. I remember one night she looked at me and asked if I wanted to make out. It’s now one of my favorite things to tease my friends with when we make awkward eye contact. Thank you, mom.

Meet My Dad Steve Olbinsky

steve olbinsky

My dad is the most stubborn and sweet man. It will always seem to me to be the 8th wonder of the world how a man so masculine can have a daughter and instantly melt into a cute teddy bear. I’ve never seen someone who would sacrifice so much for someone. Living in Allston, I remember a woman had locked her keys in the car and was crying and my dad made sure to help. I remember thinking of my dad as Superman from that day. When I scraped my knee riding bikes at the Charles River he told me he’d ride both bikes and I thought he was so silly, but when he rode his bike with one hand and the other hand on my bike, as I hobbled along I thought he was a genius. Whenever I’d have friends over, my dad would give my friends $20. He was so generous with money, he just wanted everyone to be happy and has never had an ounce of greed.

School was the most important aspect of my life and that was because my dad put a value in my accomplishments at school higher than anything else. The only thing that my dad instilled that was greater than my education was my morality. Right and wrong, ironically, was something he didn’t take lightly. I remember sitting on the steps of our basement while he did laundry, explaining to me the importance of being honest and kind. Making sure to only use honesty as a way to better serve someone, and to not take actions that will hurt others. I remember the conversation lasting for two hours and I wasn’t allowed to leave the steps. I really think he enjoyed my company but he really didn’t want me to think dishonesty was ever okay. Brushing stress and negativity off my shoulders has been much easier remembering all the phone calls where my dad has reminded me not to make mountains out of molehills.

IMG_0447

I have a lot of favorite memories with my dad because he was always looking to do anything and everything with me. The amount of concerts, shows, games, parades, and city activities we did were endless. I loved asking my dad to watch hocus pocus three times a day and my dad always agreeing and quoting, “A mok, a mok, a mok” with me. I especially loved when I took him to try on my very first prom dress. I really didn’t think much of it. It didn’t seem like that special of an event until I walked out and my dad started crying his eyes out. My dad will always have a way of making me feel the preciousness of moments in life. When I asked my dad his favorite memory of me he tells me that day will always be it because as I walked out he saw me grow up right there. Thank you for making me feel like the most special girl in the world, dad.

 

 

Parents Addicted to Heroin: How to Raise Children

Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 11.50.25 AM.png

To the parents that are struggling with addiction- don’t give up on yourselves. All your children need from you is love. The pressure of being a parent is already heavy- raising a little human is not easy and you always want to do the right thing for them and there aren’t any black-and-white answers on what that means. We know ourselves, our weaknesses, our flaws and even through parenthood we are still searching for answers while raising a child. When we have the opportunity to mold a child we want to do so in a way to mitigate those negative qualities on our children. That is without a drug addiction. Now you add in an addiction and the pressure is pulling you to the burning core of this earth.

Being a Parent with an Addiction to Narcotics or Heroin

For any parent struggling with addiction, there is no doubt that we love our children and want the best life we can give them, but our brain can only surpass the impulses to use for moments at a time. We love seeing our children smile and we love making our children happy but we also need to get high. When it comes to facing the truth – whether we are ‘there’ for our children or not, we aren’t really there. And that is a burden we must carry with us until the day we die. The burden of feeling like a failure not only in society but also as a parent is one that no one can ever imagine. So everyday that we are there- really, truly, soberly- for our children we feel immensely overjoyed and thankful for the moments we have with the one we created and suddenly we don’t feel like so much of a failure because we have a beautiful product of life in front of us that still loves us unconditionally.

j405lo4b6y

What We Ask for from Our Parents

That is all a child can ask for in life and it’s something that if you’re fortunate to get you can cherish it for life. It’s something we desire to find with a significant other and it is a feeling that calms the soul and makes us feel invincible to the world especially during tragedy. Don’t be afraid to lose the love of your child because of your addiction because that is not what defines love. We, your children, will stick by you through it all (click the link to why I am okay with my dad relapsing). We will defend you through thick and thin no matter what. All we ask for in return is unconditional love. Even when we distance ourselves, even when we get angry and run away or hide. We want to be loved! And we learn from a young age that our parents should love us and we, without even knowing it, hold you accountable for just that.

T0HUGD2ORR.jpg

Love is Unconditional and Addiction is not an Exception to That.

My parents couldn’t send me to college. My parents couldn’t always be “there” when I wanted them to be. But my parents never made me forget for one day that they didn’t love me. Do you know how hard that is to do when you have a substance addiction? There are things that they have done that an outsider can look at and say is unforgivable. Even my parents are unforgiving to themselves at times. I love my parents more than anything in this world because they have shown me unconditional, sincere, love. When my dad was in prison, he’d send me 4 pages of reasons he loves me and why and I’d get that letter on a week where I was feeling depressed because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be at a private university alongside kids who were taking advantage of their parents generosity. I’d read his letter and nothing in the world mattered to me anymore except that I had the power of love. My parents didn’t have to stay together. They were never married and they were on different coasts. 3,000 miles away they both made the commitment to live together no matter how toxic they were together. They did that for me and that is unconditional love.

heroin

What We See Our Parents Do Doesn’t Define us and Doesn’t Mean we Aren’t Loved

Not to say I should’ve seen half of the things I saw growing up- Can you imagine knowing the smell of crack-cocaine and burnt tinfoil in the bathroom drawers by age 13 followed by spoons and needles in the backseat of the car that takes you to dance class? Do you think that a parent would wish to make their child a part of that? No. It just happens. You can’t really control it anymore. Maybe if it was your first time using, and you knew that in 5 years you’d have a child to care for  but if you insert the needle that means you can’t actually be there for them and you will probably hurt them so badly you’ll make them feel insignificant– but we don’t know that the first time we use. People can hate us for becoming a parent in the first place but don’t make our children hate us.

We Can’t Give Up On Each Other Even if We Need Distance Apart

So parents – speaking to mine as well because I know you read my blog- please don’t give up. We, your children, we are hurt and we are scared, we are mad, we are confused, but we love you unconditionally. We don’t care what other people say about you. We don’t care if you are going to relapse tomorrow. We don’t care if as defined by society you are a “bad” parent. All we care about is that you love us unconditionally and tell us that. We want to feel loved by you no matter how much we ignore you or run away. We may not be willing to give that 5th or 6th chance to you right now but that does not mean we don’t want your love. We know you are going through pain and it is even harder for you than it is us. Please don’t give up. We want you to feel better but we know we can’t help – you have to do it on your own. That doesn’t mean that we can ever stop loving you. All you have to do is own up to your flaws and tell us you love us.


The Recent Neglected Child from the Heroin Overdose in Needham

-On the video of the overdose in Needham. First of all the person filming this. I do not understand how you and other bystanders could not reach out and hug this little girl. As for this heartbreaking video, this poor little girl has no idea what is going on. She understands her mother is unresponsive but she doesn’t know why. She probably won’t understand for a long time, until it really sets in that she is in a bad situation. I’m not sure the way her life may turn but it alarmed me and sprung me back into my feet that I want to be a hero and an idol for these kids. We seen this one filmed but that doesn’t mean that this is happening everywhere else where heroin is a problem.

The Future Generation of Children with Parents Addicted to Drugs

The gap between high class and low class is only going to become more divided with the amount of children that have parents addicted to drugs that cannot afford to take care of their family. Their are more than 8 million children right now that have parents addicted to drugs. These children are going to come out strong. They are going to make it. But only if it is handled with deep care for both the parents and the children AND the relationship that they have. There are laws that government officials must take for the safety of the child but to alter the relationship between children and biological parents from a young age can be so harmful. These children need someone to look up to and to not feel controlled by the fate of a foster home or the fear of inevitably becoming a replica of their parents. I want to diminish this fear because you don’t have to feel that way and once you don’t it is the most invigorating feeling.

baby.png

Having an Equal Compassion for Both the Addict and the Child

I want to be there for the parents that make the mistakes that feel like they are better off dead. No one should have to feel that way. Learning to love someone else even through an addiction is so important. There is no excuse for abuse but the guilt a loving parent who has a problem with addiction feels is unbearable and it is hard to admit to something so awful especially when you can barely remember and feel like you had no control.

I’m no expert but I have a lot of love for both addicts and children of addicts. Sometimes people need understanding from both sides to help the healing of an epidemic.

If you’d like to learn more about my nonprofit visit Rising Hope’s main page to see how to donate, how to get involved and more about the mission.