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Chabad Lifeline blog

Hiding my Mom's cocaine: Eden's story

 

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I was the hero of my family. 

A mother addicted to drugs, a father who had checked out. A brother who had withdrawn into himself, a sister with behavioural issues. I was 9 years old, doing great in school, but inside I was screaming. 

Then one day my Dad raced in my room, a bag of powder in his hand.

"Quick Eden*, hide this under your mattress!"

I knew exactly what it was. And that's when I became my Dad's closest confidante.

That's when the hero of the family became the rock of the family.

We never saw it coming

When my Dad lost his job, we had to downgrade. We moved back to Montreal, renting a duplex in Cote des Neiges.

It was a change of lifestyle. I was 6 at the time, but I remember the trauma. My Mom took it hardest.

At first she turned to drink, and we'd find bottles of alcohol all over the house. That lasted a couple of years. She went for help, but kept relapsing. 

I was oblivious. My Dad was always shouting at her, so I focused on school. On getting good grades. On my group of friends. I was managing. We were surviving.

Then she got into cocaine. 

The cocaine conspiracy

Back then my Dad cared. He once came into my room with a bag of cocaine, and convinced me to hide it under my mattress so my Mom wouldn't find it.

My Mom burst in minutes later, asking me where Dad had hidden her bag. And that's the first time I remember lying.

Over the next year, my Dad confided in me. I was his marriage counselor and his accountant. 

I watched him give up the battle, falling into a severe depression. Already, it was up to me to keep the house together.

My father spent all day in his room. My older brother locked himself in the bathroom with his game console, and my older sister acted out.

I kept the home clean. I cooked dinner, did the laundry, all while managing school projects and attending choir practice.

Rock bottom

Mom went missing for three days. I'll never know exactly what happened, but somehow she heard about Chabad Lifeline. She started attending meetings, and urged Dad to join her.

I was the youngest child, but I babysat my older siblings when they were gone. I was 11 years old.

One day my Mom brought me to Lifeline. Her counselor had prepared a healing plan and wanted the whole family involved.

I worked with Lifeline's youth counselor for many years. At first, I found Lifeline to be the only space where I could be myself. A safe space where I can focus on what I want, on my hobbies.

What I learned

Gradually we learned to work as a family. We're still a bit dysfunctional, and still getting help, but the responsibilities are no longer just my problem.

Why do I write this today? Because of Lifeline's raffle.

Thanks to Lifeline, my family is a family again. Thanks to lifeline, I can accept failure. I can recognize that I can't control everything, and I know how to say no and make space for myself and my needs.

I'm a young adult now. This year, I saved up and bought two tickets. I'm hoping you also buy a ticket.

Why? Because there are other kids out there in the same situation as I was in 13 years ago, and when you support Lifeline you aren't supporting just one person at a time.

You are supporting families.

Click here to buy your ticket.

--

*Names and certain identifying pieces of information have been changed to protect the anonymity of the author.

 

Meet Julie, our summer intern

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Volunteering at Chabad Lifeline is a rewarding experience. For Julie Flinker, her summer internship may serve as a foundation for her future professional life.

Julie's involvement with Chabad Lifeline goes back to when we were Project PRIDE. Her father has known Lifeline Founder Rabbi Ronnie Fine and Chair of Lifeline's Executive Committee Eddie Wiltzer for years.

Last summer, Julie's best friend Hannah Eisenberg took an internship with us. " Hannah told me that it's free counselling for those in need, it's non denominational, and she found her experience very educational and hands on," related Julie. "I thought that would be beneficial because I want to apply for a Master's at McGill to become a psychotherapist and volunteering at Chabad Lifeline would be good exposure and good experience."

Julie has always wanted to work in counselling. "I enjoy listening to other people speak and I enjoy helping them to the best of my abilities," she explained, noting that addiction counseling is a niche area within counselling that she wanted to explore. "People are very vulnerable when they walk into places like Chabad Lifeline. They're counting on the counsellors to help them, and it's rewarding work."

As a volunteer, Julie's work is mostly reception, and as the first to greet people who walk into the centre, she has had an eye opening experience. "There's a culture shock when you start working here," she said. "I understood the concept but you have to be here and present to really experience what it's like and what the counsellors do in the day to day at Chabad Lifeline."

Julie is also working directly with Lifeline Director Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger on the upcoming raffle. "We're trying to implement and improve the marketing strategy for the raffle so we can have greater reach and sell more tickets, as well as make it more innovative than last year," she said.

Rabbi Bresinger noted that Julie has been huge help on all fronts. "We're so glad that Julie is volunteering with us for the summer," he stressed. "Her energy and empathy is going to make her an amazing therapist."

What has her experience been thus far? "It's been very rewarding work and it taught me that it's important not to judge people because everyone has a story. No one wants to be an addict and no one wants to be a slave to their addiction, and the fact that people are coming to the centre seeking help is a huge step in their recovery." 

"It's very important not to judge people and not to judge the centre," she added. "I think some people might think Chabad Lifeline, judging by its name, only caters to Jews, but it really caters to everyone, and I can see that just by working at reception. I see the diverse clientele that walks in there. That's why I think it's important to support Chabad Lifeline."

To purchase tickets for our upcoming raffle, click here.

To volunteer at Chabad Lifeline, click here.

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