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Chabad Lifeline blog

Wish I had known

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Home is supposed to be a safe space.

It wasn't for Eric*.

His father was an abusive alcoholic. His mother had serious anxiety issues. His older brother was a violent wreck with a big mouth.

Eric never knew what to expect when he came home. If his Dad was around, Eric faced drunken aggression. If his Mom was there, she would be crying in her room - unable to leave to work because of her nerves. If his brother was home, it was because he was kicked out of school for fighting.

When more than one family member was home, it was pure chaos. But it was Eric's normal home life.

When Eric was 17, he got ahold of his Mom's anxiety medication. Xanax. He started using Xanax more and more and eventually it got out of control. He started hanging out with some bad friends and within a couple of months he was drinking and using serious drugs on a regular basis.

His friends called him the garburator because he would eat, drink, and smoke whatever he got his hands on. He would do anything to block out his feelings.

After three years of hell, Eric finally admitted that he needed help, and was admitted into an inpatient treatment centre. After 5 weeks, he came out clean and sober, feeling better than he'd ever felt in his life.

He moved out of his parents' volatile house and into a shared apartment with one of his friends, a young man named Joel* who was addicted to cocaine. 

Eric decided to go back and get his high school diploma. For about a year, he struggled and managed to hang on to his sobriety.

But then the pressure from his diploma and his work got to him and he fell off the wagon. His old feelings, the victim thinking returned and the only way to shut the inner voices was to go back to his old solution, blotting out his existence the best he could with drugs and alcohol.

A couple months later, Eric's Dad showed up at his apartment. He looked wearier than ever, yet paradoxically healthier than ever. Eric's dad had found recovery and it had changed his life. He had joined a 12-step fellowship and was celebrating one year of continuous sobriety.

He had come to ask forgiveness. To make amends.

When Eric's dad left, the old feelings returned with a vengeance. Eric felt anger. Remorse. Pity. He wanted his Dad's recovery to be real. He wondered if it was. He was an emotional wreck. He didn't know how to manage his feelings.

Eric went on a using binge, and died of an overdose.

He was an artist. A kindhearted person. My roommate. My best friend.

My wake up call.

His death made me realize my own path of self-destruction. His death made me seek help.

Eric's Dad was at his funeral. He looked distraught. Beaten.

But he was still sober.

I asked Eric's Dad where he'd received the strength. The help. "Joel, come with me to Chabad Lifeline."

My path to recovery began seven years ago at an Open Speaker Meeting in Chabad Lifeline.

 I am alive today because of Eric. Because of Eric's Dad. Because of Chabad Lifeline.

Someday I may share my own story but today I want to to tell you Eric's. I know that Eric could have been saved had he found the family I found at Chabad Lifeline.

Because Chabad Lifeline isn't just a house. It's a home.

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As part of our growth and commitment to being accessible, we are expanding our services with NEW EVENING HOURS including a new Open Speaker Meeting on Thursday evening at 7:00 PM.

For the first time, we will be available to meet with clients on Thursdays from 5:00-7:00 PM.

In addition, we will be starting a new Parent Support Group on Monday evenings 5:45-7:00 PM. Check the flyer for details.

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Please note: names and certain identifying details have been changed from this account to protect the anonymity of the people this happened to.

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