After the death of Carols parents in 1998, her alcoholism took a brutal turn. Alcoholism is defined as being addicted to the consumption of liquor or extends to the mental and compulsive behaviors after consumption as well. Prior to their deaths, she used to drink primarily on the weekends and was able to maintain a functioning life. However, the depression that followed such events brought upon the need to drink every day. Depression is many times hidden by western women due to culture, which explains why none of Carols family was aware of such instances (Miller-Day,2011). Weekend drinks turned to a daily ritual for Carol. This drastically affected the lives of her children and employment as well. Carol, at the time was a single mother of two boys, who had their lives completely turned around from this illness. Although much stigma has been placed on substance-based disorders, they share many similarities with other illnesses as well (Miller-Day,2011). That is true because they make individuals have physical and mental alterations. Many individuals trying to avoid stigma often cope with avoidance, denial and secrecy(Miller-Day,2011). Carol was no different, she tried to deny that she had a problem, however, it was noticeable to those around her. Carol’s thought process completely changed when this illness began. Reluctantly, the social support offered by medical staff and her son allowed Carol sobriety and a change of heart later on.
In 2000, Carols addiction was worse than ever, she was drinking a 24 pack of beer a day, and completely disregarding her responsibilities. Being a single mom, Carol did not have a sitter, so she took both boys along with her to the bar. Her oldest son Shawn was 10 years old, and her youngest son was 3. They basically grew up in bars, watching their mom get obliterated every single day. At these bars, Carol would meet her sister Patty and her husband Joe, who also had severe cases of Alcoholism. There, the three would drink for generally 4-5 hours and even longer on weekends. The young boys would either sit there, or occasionally play pinball machines. However, they did not enjoy this, and very often, they would sit at the bar from the time they would leave school until about eight at night. Although Timmy was quite young, Shawn remembers these events quite vividly.
In 2001, Carol had lost her job at Holiday Inn, where she was a housekeeper. She was becoming less of a functioning alcoholic and more of just an alcoholic. The jobs she worked were strictly to pay for her alcohol and she recalls being drunk everyday while working. When the manager smelt the liquor on her breath, he immediately fired her. Carol’s rent was delayed for several months, and eventually she lost her apartment on the west side of Erie. Carol’s alcoholism was finally taking a toll on her life, she not only lost her job, but now her apartment to. Since she had no other relatives left, she turned to her sister Patty for a place to stay. Carols new rooming arrangements with her sister only escalated her addiction, since all adults in the household had a problem. Shawn recalls not a single day when his mother did not have some sort of drink in her hand. Although, he desperately wishes that he could forget all of these past events.
As her alcoholism became worse and worse, Child and Youth Services (CYS) stepped in. This occurred after Carol became extremely intoxicated one night and locked her sister out of their apartment. As her sister pounded on her door, Carol refused to let her in. Which showcases poor quality communication between them (Miller-Day,2011). Not to mention that Patty was also heavily drunk as well. The neighbors called the police about noise disturbances and discovered what was happening. After this, they let CYS step in and they immediately claimed that Carol was unfit to take care of her children. The boys were sent to a shelter for some time while Carol received rehabilitation that she desperately needed.
The first two attempts of sobriety were unsuccessful. Carol was still going to bars daily with her sister and husband. Since she was unemployed, she relied on men to provide her alcohol. Many of which were toxic and abusive as well. Such relationships still bring upon bad memories to Carol even to this day. Looking back at the situation, she realizes that she lost everything she loved, for something that she thought she loved. She mentioned many times how she never realized what was happening until after she was sober. A problem that many alcoholics suffer with. Carol’s third attempt at sobriety was much more successful, she was tired of this toxic cycle and wanted to regain rights to her children back. Carol realized that alcohol destroyed all aspects of her life, and she was ready to change.
Timmy was so young, and didn’t understand what was happening with his mother, however, Shawn was highly aware. Although, he didn’t understand everything, he knew that his mother had a problem. The first day Carol was united with her kids was in 2004 mid-July. On this day, she regained her kids, her life, and her happiness. Shawn gave Carol the biggest hug that he would and told her that he loved her. To this day Carol still feels guilty for what she put her family through. However, Shawn reassures her that it wasn’t her fault but the alcohol. By doing so, Shawn shows his support and unconditional love. Not every child who went through such situations with their mother would have been so forgiving. However, he reluctantly has been. Both of Carols sons refuse to drink due to the fact that alcoholism is hereditary.
In 2016, Carol relapsed and got drunk at a local Erie bar. Being that she did not have the ideal social support at that time could help explain such issues(Miller-Day,2011). During this time, Patty and Joe were enablers and encouraged her to drink. Not to mention her two sons were off at summer camp, so she had no one watching over her. When her oldest Shawn found out, all the wounds were reopened. Shawn thought she’d never drink again and felt personally responsible since he was off at camo. Luckily, this one incident was enough for Carol to realize that alcoholism never goes away. It is an illness that one carries with them until they die. Each day is a battle as she says but having my family there for me makes the struggle a lot easier. Shawn volunteers to drive his mother to AA meetings twice a week, even though she hasn’t slipped up since then, these meetings help her a lot. By doing so, Shawn is showcasing the type of family support that is greatly needed in such situations. Despite the neglect and abandonment that has been shown to him by his mother, he never judges her or brings up the past. Shawn truly has been a rock in this mess, and his patience and love is admirable. By not discussing the past, this family is communicating non-verbally. This type of family communication is sometimes the most effective. Although, sometimes Carol asks the boys questions about such incidents. She is very open and honest with them about many of the details of her illness. By doing so, Carol feels less likely to relapse. Social support is key, if one does not want to relapse (Miller-Day,2011).
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