Addiction Doesn’t Just Kill Addicts
Last Saturday someone I’ve known for over 30 years was killed in a car accident. The driver had two prior DUIs and was driving drunk…AGAIN. My loved one was killed upon impact. She was a mother, a grandmother, and the kindest woman I have ever had the privilege of being cared for and mentored by.
I was devastated by the news of her death. When it was confirmed that the other driver was drunk, I became enraged. I spent the whole day vomiting from anger and grief. I put aside everything I know and believe about recovery from addiction, and found no compassion, no tolerance, and no forgiveness for the suffering alcoholic
I wanted the bastard’s head on a platter. I wanted vengeance. I wanted him dead.
I then turned my rage and grief inward. I was overcome with guilt because I drove drunk HUNDREDS of times. That could’ve been me. That should’ve been me.
Then I started to feel superior to this man. I’ve managed to get the help I needed to end my dangerous behavior. Why couldn’t he? I’m sure at some point he was given a, “nudge from a judge” to get some help for his obvious problem. Did he just not care? Was he ignoring the gift of recovery? Why isn’t he, “getting his shit together” like me and so many of my friends? I put myself above him and put out of my mind completely the cunning nature of alcoholism.
My anger calmed down a bit. I have started to allow myself to feel and be present for the stages of grief. I am not yet at a place of acceptance and forgiveness for the man who killed my loved one, and that’s okay. Having recovery knowledge doesn’t make me exempt from natural, human emotions. I don’t want to be exempt from feeling these things. I’ve decided to take care of myself and not internalize my emotions until I’m physically ill.
I won’t hold a DUI against anyone else, because that isn’t fair. I won’t lash out in pain on someone who doesn’t deserve it. I will honor my feelings and feel all of them. I will remain grateful that I am growing and changing, and know so many others are doing the same, so just MAYBE one less innocent will die to feed the disease of addiction’s insatiable thirst for death.
But, you guys, I hurt deep down in my soul for that life that was taken. That laugh that could be heard from a block away. A young woman now has to raise her children without her mother to lean on. A husband is without the love of his life. I will cry for her today because dammit, it shouldn’t have been her.
This post is dedicated to the memory and family of Gayle Naiman.
Rachel has been in recovery since October 29, 2010, and she’s not afraid to speak out about it. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters.