Addiction is a crazy thing isn’t it? One day everything in the world is normal and the next day, the bear is back. For some of us, the bear is a parent whose alcohol addiction never seems to end. For others, it can be harder things like prescription pills or street drugs. The bear isn’t the person your parent thought that they’d be. The bear is a manifestation of something that none of us can understand. You are the cub. However, in this life, the cub doesn’t have to follow the bears footsteps and the cub won’t learn everything it knows from the bear.
I am a cub. I’m a cub who’s grown up and doesn’t let the actions of my dad control the way I live or view my life. We all have the power to be strong and overcome obstacles that seem impossible. My dad became addicted to the prescription opioid Vicodin when I was, well I don’t know when. My mom hid his addiction from us very well, trying to shield us from the truth. It wasn’t until I was 16, that I found out my dad was addicted to drugs. We moved out of the house shortly after that.
I didn’t have to wake up every day wondering what my day would hold like some of you do. I commend you for doing all that you do in the face of this terrible obstacle. Some of you take care of younger siblings, play the mother or father role instead of the older sibling. You are the face of my mother who tried to make everything seem normal. You are the reason your siblings are shielded from the bears that could be lurking. You are stronger and wiser than someone your age should be. Even though you do not have the time to do what your peers are doing, you are doing more heroic actions on a day to day basis that they could never understand.
Even though your parents can be the bear, you do not have to be. The hand you have been dealt doesn’t mean that you cannot succeed in what you love to do. You do not have to give up your passions, desires, and dreams because you have more to worry about. Trying to get out of what seems a never-ending cycle is completely possible, and I encourage it. Once you are grown enough to leave the house, you should if you have the resources too. You should do things for you. It’s okay to be selfish in following your dreams and not dwelling in a place that gives a lot of heartache. The actions of someone else, even if they have great influence over you now, doesn’t define who you are. You must take the time to figure out who you are.
The resilience that you will take with you in your years to come will be a great trait to have. You know that there is always a way out of any situation that you find yourself into. You are the best negotiator, the best warrior, and the best at giving unconditional love. The things that you learn within the household that raise you will teach you how to be a better parent, if you so wish to become one. You know what not to do when you’re a parent because you’ve seen the worst of the worst. From those ashes, like a Phoenix, you will rise, spread your wings and fly into a better life than you could have thought.
The most important part of living with the bear, is that you never lose sight of your future. Even though you play many roles in your day to day life, always reach for your goals. The things that you are going through do not define who you are. You are so much more than a victim of your parents’ addiction. You are one of the bravest people to ever walk this Earth and with that you must demand a better future for yourself. Love yourself first and foremost and hold on tight to those who shine a little bit of light on the stormiest of days. The story you have to tell is one that is amazing, empowering, and motivating. Always dream and try to achieve better things in life because you can. You are the bravest, strongest person and do not let anyone take that away from you.
Kirsten Storemski, a cub