Ahh, I’m so excited this day has arrived! I finally get to feature my sister’s writing on my blog. I’ve expressed this before but maybe not everyone caught it so let me start by saying this: even though we’ve been sisters for 28+ years, our relationship hasn’t always been like a lot of sisters we know. We are so different, but also share some qualities (like we’re both HIIIIII-larious; or at least we both think we are 😉 ). And we both truly want to help people become the very best versions of themselves… and I think that’s because we both recognize (in such amazingly different ways) that no matter where your life journey takes you, it’s important to love yourself and spread that love to as many people as possible. So without any further adieu…
Hey everyone! My name is Heather and I am Lauren’s younger sister. Before I jump right into it, I wanted to introduce myself a bit. I am 28 years old and I live in New Jersey with my boyfriend Jonathan, my 10 month old baby girl Zoey, and my 18 month old pup named Charlotte. I am a recovering heroin addict (more on this in my next post) and I want to make it my mission in life to help others who feel as hopeless and helpless as I felt, and guide them on a journey filled with self-love and happiness.
It’s not hard for me to remember the moment when I felt as though my life would never be normal again. I remember the exact day as if it were yesterday. I remember waking up and going downstairs to my brother telling me that my dad had taken my mom to the hospital because she had a “headache”. I didn’t understand why anyone would go to the hospital for a headache but as a (relatively) innocent 12 year old, I didn’t question it. I only sensed something was wrong when my dad sent a neighbor to pick me up and bring me back to their house.
When we got there, they sent me down the stairs into the basement to play. It wasn’t too long until they came downstairs to get me. My dad wanted me at the hospital. At that point I knew it was more serious than just a bad headache. The whole ride I sat anxiously in the backseat. I had no idea what I was walking into. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
As we pulled up to the hospital, I saw my entire family huddled outside of the entrance. They brought me into the room where my mom was. I walked into the room to find her lying what appeared to be lifeless on the hospital bed and my dad and brother crying next to her. I don’t recall what my dad said to me or how he tried to explain to me that it didn’t look like my mom was going to live. But I do remember feeling completely helpless. And scared.
I remember feeling like a terrible daughter for not crying right away. Now I look back and realize I was in shock and trying to process the situation. I carried around a lot of guilt for that for a long time. I was also trying to stay strong for everyone else who seemed to be falling apart around me. Thankfully, things turned around and my mom survived the brain bleed.
But the weeks and months to follow were filled with a lot of anxiety and worry. The doctors were doing everything they could to help my mom re-learn to walk and talk. It was really hard to see my mom like this. One time I remember walking into one of her physical therapy sessions to see her and there she was struggling, trying to hold herself up between these two bars. She looked so helpless and there was nothing I could do to help her.
Over the next few months our lives adjusted to what would become our new routine. Me and my sister would go to school everyday. Our brother was up at college. My mom couldn’t drive but she was alive and recovering quite well considering what happened. And then, my dad told us he was moving out. This is another moment that I remember quite vividly. We were all at the kitchen table in our usual spots eating dinner and my dad said he had something to tell us. I knew what was coming. I remember feeling nervous and scared because I knew my life was about to change drastically. Again.
Within a year of my dad moving out, we sold my childhood home. My mom and I moved into a condo and that’s when my behavior started to get worse. I would burst out in verbal and physical attacks on my mom. I started skipping school and dabbling in drugs. I would steal, lie, and manipulate to get what I wanted. I was an absolute terror. I developed very little self-confidence and low self-worth. I never felt good enough at anything. Being the youngest of three, I was always compared to my siblings. “Why can’t you be like your brother and sister?” were the famous words of my high school principal. I felt like an outsider all of the time. I remember always comparing myself to other girls in my grade. I always felt like they were smarter or prettier than me.
My parents didn’t know how to handle me. They tried sending me to therapy but I manipulated my way out of that. They sent me to a wilderness program for 7 weeks in the Adirondack mountains, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life, but within months of being home I was back at it with the atrocious behavior. Eventually, I was sent off to boarding school for 16 months until I graduated high school.
For a long time, I carried around a lot of resentment regarding those situations. I felt like if my dad never left, or my mom never got sick, I wouldn’t have felt or acted that way. And maybe I wouldn’t have. I was just so angry at everyone and everything. I was angry at God for letting this happen to me and to my family. I was angry at my mom for getting sick. I was angry at my dad for leaving. I was angry at my sister for coping with it better than me. I felt like there was this recurring theme in my life of everyone leaving me and I had no choice in the matter.
Looking back on the situation, I see it for what it really was – everyone doing their best to keep it together during a shitty situation. Unfortunately all of these events were just beginning to more troubling times. My next post is dedicated to sharing my journey about how it all started, what it was like during my addiction, and what it is like now on the other side. When I was younger, I wasn’t even able to imagine my life at 28 because I didn’t know if I was going to make it. All of those life experiences brought me to where I am today – sober, happy, and healthy. Today, my mother and I have a relationship that I hold dear to my heart and that I love and respect. I thank God I am able to be the daughter my mother always deserved.