Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Michele

Sometimes, certain events happen that leave you with no words to say and the only possible comfort, if any, is found through a necessary break of silence and solitude. For the past couple of months, I have been literally and undeniably lost in reflection and emotion because of such an event. The moment that rendered me speechless happened on Friday, October 11, 2013, around 2:30 pm, when my sister self destructed....
I would love to say I really knew my sister but I didn't. I only knew what she would let me see and for many, many years, there has not been much. So, when I got the news that she had been killed instantly in a car accident, I honestly didn't know how to feel. I have had a couple of months now to process it and I still have overwhelming waves of mixed emotions that I am trying to sort out. I find myself searching for a time when I was close to her but I have to go so far back (as reflected in this photo of us) that it makes me feel even more lost about it.
Michele was an addict. There I said it! Those four powerful words were never allowed to be spoken in our house and even now that she is gone, the subject is still the awkward elephant in the room. Her demons surfaced in many ways, but, alcohol was always her preferred choice and to find out that it factored into her car accident was a very numbing feeling.
She was a second generation alcoholic in our immediate family (The first one was another secret I was forced to hide during my entire childhood as well.) I believe it started as early as age 12 with her. I was 9 at the time and really had no idea then about how long and damaging her journey was going to be. Then, I spent the next 32 years painfully watching her uncontrollable behavior cost her everything....me, her kids, her career, her identity and, finally, her life.
It has taken me a LONG time to even begin to understand her because I just couldn't see things through her eyes. I could never be the person she was. I couldn't rationalize the choices she made. I couldn't understand why she couldn't just quit, if not for herself, then, for her children. Could she not remember what we went through with an alcoholic? Was this genetic? So many questions without clear answers. I had spent my whole life being forced to live with alcoholics that I could not help or change. Then, it happened as I always knew it would someday. I hit my breaking point....I got to that point in my life where I didn't want alcoholism forced upon me or around my own family that I made a bold choice three years ago to end the constant madness and not have her as a part of my life anymore.
I am, surprisingly, at peace with the choices I made as I know she didn't hold it against me. I would not allow or enable the person she had become. There was an accountability with me, in turn, that she did not want in the life she was living. However, I have always held a sadness for what could have been. The sister I never had, so to speak.
She entered rehab for the first time in her life a month before she died and it was a very significant but brief moment of clarity for her. She cried tears she had never cried, faced fears she had never admitted and said things she had never said. It was a slight opening for her family to look in and see what had started her on this path and it was her first enlightenment of how her life could be if she chose to heal herself.
However, without the proper support system, she quickly resorted back to surrounding herself with people that were part of the problem and not the solution and she started drinking again two days after being released.
I am not here to judge her but I honestly, in my heart, don't believe she was ever going to get better. However, it truly sickens me that it cost her life so young and in such a horrible way. The aftermath, as well, that her family, especially her children, must now endure has been painfully unbearable.
Michele, please know that you were always loved despite our separation and I can only pray that you finally have found an everlasting peace that you were just never able to find here.

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