When I turned fourteen, my life took a turn for the worse. My mom was drinking so much that she had to go away to rehab for three weeks. My parents had split years earlier, and my dad was out of the picture. The last time I talked to him was two years ago on my birthday (I had to call him). So, I had to stay with my dad's mom, who I wasn't close with. She didn't like my mom and didn't make things easy.
I felt hurt, confused, ashamed. I knew my mom needed help, but it didn't make me feel any better. The way I saw it, her solution was to abandon me like my dad did.
At school, I lied nonstop. I couldn't just say, "My mom's in rehab because she cannot stop drinking." I didn’t think anyone who had met her would believe she was "away on business," so I told them there was a family emergency out of town. No one really asked any follow-up questions.
After about two weeks, I found myself heading to our empty apartment after school. I couldn't explain exactly why I went there. Inside, it was freezing – my mom hadn’t thought to leave the heater on before she left. I sat on my bed, crying. I felt shut out from the world. I was certain I was completely alone.
When my mom got out of rehab, she started an “aftercare program” at Chabad Lifeline. When I heard about this, I was furious. She still isn’t better?! Almost right away, I was invited to come speak to a Youth Counsellor at the centre. I couldn't believe it. Why am I being dragged into this? I didn't do anything!
I'd kept everything inside for so long that I didn't have any idea how angry I truly was. Counselling helped me recognize the rage I’d just barely been holding in. It was finally the right situation to be honest about what I was feeling. After a few months of meeting with my counsellor, I knew I could tell him anything.
Today, I'm much more aware of how much my anger had been consuming me, and I'm learning the tools to let it out in a healthy way. What at first seemed like a punishment turned out to be exactly what I needed.
*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved, as the story was adapted after being told to a Lifeline staff member with permission to share. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Tom and his mother immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.