A lot of us say we are only hurting ourselves – Perspective of a loved one

I’m not sure why this particular memory has always stuck with me. I was about 21 and a waitress. The specifics are blurry but it was something like – my mom had called me to tell me my brother, who was in and out of active alcoholism and in a pretty dark place, hadn’t returned home and no one knew where he was. Anytime I’m sad or scared it just comes out as anxiety and the restaurant was really busy that night. I was shaking like a leaf and overwhelmed and ended up on the floor in the kitchen in tears because I couldn’t manage my tables. The head chef who, at the time, was maybe 3 or 4 years in recovery from a heroin addiction, came over to comfort me. To this day the look on his face and in his eyes is still crystal clear in my mind. He looked devastated and had tears in his eyes. He said he was sorry and thanked me for showing him something and said after all this time he hadn’t fully grasped how his addiction had impacted his family, but he got it now. 

I guess it was just one of those unexpected moments of clarity for him, but it seemed to effect him so deeply it became a moment of clarity for me too. A sharp, painful realization of how consuming his demons had been. And how much the real him cared. And how little other people’s suffering is about me or anyone else. Even when losing a loved one to addiction (and I don’t even mean death) does hurt so bad.

The good news is I made it through my shift that night and that exact same brother celebrated 16 years of sobriety on January 1st this year. 

Rocco the chef – although I’m no longer personally in touch (but thank you Facebook) – celebrated 20 years on February 5th.

Loved one of an alcoholic