This is something I’ve always wanted to speak about. This is something I’ve dealt with my entire life.. and if you are going through something like this, you are not alone.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength- Philippians 4:13”

I was 8 years old when I first learned of my fathers drug addiction. I never saw it coming. Let me explain the person my father was.. he watched the Raiders play every Sunday, he yelled and cussed at the T.V. until he lost his voice. He loved to hang out in the garage, blare Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and dance like no one was watching. He sang beautiful songs at the top of his lungs constantly. He was the kind of neighbor you’d call for help on your house, or even just to jump your car. He took me fishing, taught me how to throw a football, and picked me up when I’d fall. He’d take me on spontaneous road trips. He was the only dad on the playground half the time (and the only one that gave under-doggy’s on the swings). All the kids in my grade loved seeing my dad, I had the coolest dad of all time. He was the most amazing person I knew, I looked at him like he held the universe in his hands.

My memories of laughing turned into screaming, dancing in the house turned into police lights decorating the living room walls, and our fun road trips turned into midnight runs with my mother to other family members houses. I remember giving numerous notes to different bus drivers as permission to ride the bus to school since I was staying at a different house. I was never scared, because I never understood what was going on.

My mother went through enough and to protect my brother and I she moved us half way across the United States. I was taken from everything and everyone I knew, including my father.

I had settled into my new home, and my father contacted us rarely. Starting a new school at a young age wasn't easy. I was terrified, I broke down in class and cried because I missed my father. I understood why we were taken away only to an extent. I was only a kid. Over the next 3 years, he had got on his feet and wanted my brother and I for the summer. It took a lot of convincing to my mother but for the next 4 years we spent every summer with my father, stepmom, and 4 siblings. My father had always had problems with his temper. I had seen him angry before, and I saw things I wish I wouldn’t have, things that lead me to think my father was dangerous. I didn’t tell my mother because I was scared I’d never see him or my siblings again. Things only got worse. The last summer I visited I was 15, old enough to know the signs. He didn’t eat, he was always on the phone, a trip to the gas station took hours, and he would fight with my stepmom over nothing. I watched the man I first loved, turn into a different person. I didn't recognize him, his behavior was so different. He had completely relapsed after we left to go back home. He lost everything, his six children, his home, and his girlfriend. I had gotten phone calls about his relapse and come to find out he was homeless as well. He couldn’t stay with family members because he would steal things, for the drug. My heart broke into a million pieces, I cared so much about him and there wasn't anything I could do. After feeling heartbroken I became angry. He had lost his kids once, and was willing to do that again. And It was his choice to pick up that needle again. Addiction is not a disease, it is a choice. My father chose to get high and spend all of his money on drugs verses supporting his family and being there.

Loving an addict for 20 years I went through a lot. A lot of heartache, disappointment, and even depression. I finally got into counseling, and it helped tremendously. Never be scared to get help, you shouldn't fight all of your battles alone. The battle with loving someone who's an addict isn't easy, it's:

Late nights up, thinking. It’s answering your phone, scared it might be news of their death. It’s wondering if they’re hungry. It’s blaming yourself. It’s anger. It’s crying. It’s regretting holidays. It’s knowing you won’t get a phone call to wish you Happy Birthday but still staring at your phone all day. It’s saving money in a mason jar to pay for their rehab. It’s seeing them post a Facebook status about how much they love you, but not receiving a direct message. It’s staring at old pictures. It’s wondering how different your life would’ve been. It’s missing the way they smelled. It’s a waiting game, deciding when it’s time to move on. It’s trying to connect with them, only to be ignored. It’s being told that this is permanent, and to just deal with it. It’s seeing a recent picture and noticing they tattooed your name on their arm but won’t bother to say hello. It’s torture, but most of all it’s realizing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

It’s been 4 years now, my father has called me once. It was my understanding that he was too embarrassed to talk to me. He wasn’t there to take pictures for prom, or yell in excitement when I crossed the stage at graduation. He wasn’t there when I got my heart broken for the first time, or dealt with constant pain after my Nana died. He won't be there for the birth of his grandchildren, or to walk me down the isle. He missed out on my life, and continues to every day and that is his choice. What do you say to him though? What do you say to someone who missed out on so much of your life by choice?

Nothing. You forgive them and move on. It’s taken me a long time to forgive those who have done me wrong. Learning to see the light in a bad situation, and being more uplifting can truly make a difference. I struggled for so long being angry... Why me? Everything happens for a reason. I will always stay true in my belief that life is better when you’re more positive. Whenever I get down, I’ll always glance at “Positive Mind” tattooed on my foot as a reminder of that. I still struggle time to time. Lately, it’s been an uphill battle, but healing does take time. Everything that I’ve gone through with my father's addiction has shaped the woman I am today, and I’ve never been more content and happy with the direction my life is headed. I still think about my father every day, and I’ve forgiven him in my heart. If he comes clean one day, I hope to receive a call. I’d be more than happy to see the change and meet the dad I once knew when I was 5.

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness” – Marianne Williamson

If you love an addict, you are never alone. There is hope, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You must forgive for your own well-being. The person you love might get clean and they might not. But you must never hold hate in your heart.