My daughter Lori, 1967-2006
My daughter, Lori was born July 29, 1967 and died on November 22, 2006. She was my second daughter coming into the world four years after the birth of her sister, Debbie, on May 14, 1963.
Thanksgiving will fall on Lori's sixth anniversary when she died from alcohol addiction. We all have that certain date that cuts into our hearts with a loved one not being with us to share our family events. The one left behind goes on like we are all healed, when in reality, we are praying to keep our emotions to ourselves, not to affect the rest of the family by stirring up their emotions as well.
I've had readers ask me if writing Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism, which tells about Lori's struggle in Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island and twice at Gosnold Rehab in Falmouth, Massachusetts, healed me from my lost.
Nothing heals us from a child's death
Nothing heals us from a death, especially a child. We just have to find out how to go on knowing they will never be in our lives again. It's a gap that will never close.
Lori had a personality once she started to walk and discovered the world and the people in it. By two years old, she delighted in any comical gesture of hers to make people laugh. She continued this wonderful habit throughout her life. Our house filled with her friends since Lori seemed to be the leader of the pack. I enjoyed each moment my daughter's girlfriends, and at times the boys in the gang, come over to our house. I knew where they were and loved all the neighborhood kids.
Debbie seemed to always have things go right in her life. She was the first-born and became an adult too fast living in an alcoholic family. My daughters had their childhood robbed growing up and listening to parents fighting and waiting in fear when their father would come home late at night in a drunken state.
Lori’s life had been a struggle with two broken marriages, raising two children alone while she battled alcohol addiction in silence and having bulimia. On the outside, Lori made everyone think that she had no problems, but she hid her pain deep down inside. At the age of seventeen, Lori and Debbie at the age of twenty-one, lost their father when he was only forty-five years of age from cirrhosis of the liver.
Missing the signs of alcoholism
It wasn't until Lori's was thirty-seven years old that the family came to realize that she had been following the same path as her dad.It wasn't until Lori's was thirty-seven years old that the family came to realize that she had been following the same path as her dad. She had deeper problems that kept her frightened all her life and made her lose confidence in herself. Instead of talking about her pain, she turned to alcohol abuse and prescription drugs to numb her hurt.
How does a parent miss the signs, especially after losing a husband nineteen years earlier? Easily. Lori never came and told any of us that she had been fighting with trying to understand our past history with alcohol abuse in our family. Instead, she omitted the conversation about our lives and kept her confused mental state with past traumas.
I am far from being innocent with Lori and Debbie's suffering. I should have been protecting my daughters from living in that atmosphire instead of becoming a huge enabler. I caused a high percent of Lori's pain from not breaking away from Richie until he had put his life together. I should have sat them down and had us talk about their father's death. I buried it myself. The three of us continued on hurting and never spoke about it.
After three alcoholic rehabilitation stays, Lori died at thirty-nine years of age.On November 22, 2006 after three alcoholic rehabilitation stays, Lori died at thirty-nine years of age at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was laid to rest with her father at the St. Patrick Cemetery in Somerset. They are buried in front of a huge, white statue of The Blessed Mother with Her arms reaching out. The one Lori had told me gave her peace feeling like Our Lady was watching over her father.
The memoir is a very honest, painful and emotional stories of losing a child to a demon that became her killer. It's a book of lessons with my mistakes ignoring signs or opportunities to help Lori. I include my private talks that I give to alcoholics and addicts behind closed events. Hopefully, it will open the eyes of others going down this same path. The path our children today think is fun.
I became an Awareness Coach speaking to alcoholics, addicts, their families and the public on the effect of alcoholism on the whole family. God has a way of putting an unknown direction in front of us. We have to decide if we want to travel down it, and if we open our hearts to Him, the decision is easy. Contact me for a quote to talk at your event at [email protected]
My books are much more than memoirs. I guarantee you that reading them will help you with a problem you are struggling with at the moment. The sequel and the first Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis can be purchased on my website and autographed at www.albertasequeira.com or in Amazon. They are available in paperback or Kindle.
Excerpt from Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis
The attorneys continued to hurry in and out of the courtrooms. Many whispered in their clients’ ear while others stood with the client’s married partners. It was a battlefield. Who was going to get what? Who was going to be punished?
I watched and realized that the only winners would be the lawyers. They had nothing to lose. To them, we were all numbers on a check, whether they won or lost the case. It didn’t matter if someone could afford their services or not.
In minutes, our marriage was over. Seventeen years of hanging onto a hopeless marriage that couldn’t be saved because of his drinking. We joined the ranks of families divorced due to alcohol abuse. There was no other reason as far as I knew.
I stood there feeling sorry for us both, and especially for our precious daughters. They loved us. I prayed that they wouldn’t be screwed-up emotionally because of our years of conflict. That was one of the most important reasons for my divorce. Was the damage already too deep?
Alberta: How many families around the world breakup because of addiction? Families that once loved each other. No one walks out undamaged. The alcoholic will most likely realize years to come that they lost the most precious people in their lives. The non-drinker is left trying to keep the children in one piece mentally. They were the innocent ones who loved both parents and had no control of their lives that were spent in confusion and fear.
What is it going to take for the addicted to get out of denial and want help to over-come this killer called Alcoholism? Our children get older and follow the same path. Schools and colleges are filled with kids who think their habit is exciting. Everyone is going to parties and getting smashed. It's a cycle that never stops.
If only we had control to throw out alcohol completely from being sold. Our world would be different with people working to contribute to the country and families growing together in spiritual ways, instead of being filled with uncontrollable crimes, violence, suicides and deaths.
I guess it's all about the money. The same with drug dealers. I guess countries around the globe have allowed this to go on for so long they don't know where to start to stop this death rate from addiction. Counselor and doctors continuously see addicts return way too often with no results.
Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round is available in paperback or Kindle.
An Excerpt from Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis
Getting On Tranquilizers
Richie’s drinking began to change his moods and personality. He started coming home wanting to fight and would follow me through the house saying things hoping to upset me. I knew he was looking for an argument when he did this. I wanted to scream at him, but because of my fear of scaring the girls, I kept quiet.
Every day my anger and bitterness was held back so we could live the best we could as a family. I felt that my husband and daughters were doing their own thing, and I was separated from them. We were still going along as if nothing was happening, when in actuality, our family was falling apart. I started to hate myself for feeling sorry for my husband and having no backbone to make demands. What was I going to do and where would I go if we split? I had no job and two young daughters.
My body became a breeding ground of hate, resentment, lies, tears, delusion and the paralyzing feeling of suffocation. The kids held on to any moment that Richie gave them. There would be weeks with him coming home on time, and we’d be fine, but I couldn’t relax. I was always guessing—in what condition?
**Why do we accept living this way? Who are we actually helping enabling an addicted person? Family members actually bring them deeper into their addiction. The non-drinking parent opens their children's world to confusion, fear and abuse. Innocently, we help develop them into addicts because they start to follow the same action and habit as the alcoholic parent, because they lived so long in the sick atmosphire, that they turn to drugs to cope with their pain from the past. They learned to bottle up their emotions and bury them in the deepest part of their souls.
Young children have no control over their parent's drinking and abuse, so it makes them live in horrible, emotional and phyical pain. It's the parent's responsiblity to protect your children and get the alcoholic abuser out of the house. An action I did four times, only to take him back. Don't repeat my mistakes. Forcing the addicted into getting help, even with feet kicking, is love. If you don't, you could be burying them in the future.
There is no need today, like it was for me in the 60's, not having the opportunity to reach out to professionals for help. Get the addicted into an alcoholic rehab for detox and sign them in for further counseling. As a family, "push" for counseling as a unit. We are all sick from this disease.
Remember, if the addicted person is too emotionally scared, they could have fear opening up to professionals. They fear talking about their past. That's why family is so important. You have the answers the loved one is looking for. Counselors will never figure out what started the patient on their substance abuse, if they won't talk to them. They waste months with the patient entering a recovery programs trying to pull it out of them.
I truly believe, if my daughter, Lori, had allowed me into her counseling, she would have had a higher rate of survival. My poor daughter was so sick with her addiction and bulimic,that her mind wasn't working in a healthy way to get help. She reached the point of looking at family as her enemy. When I think of how she had struggled alone without us, it just breaks my heart. We need to change things. The Patient Privacy Act has to stop holding families from working with the patient, who is too mentally sick to make healthy decisions. It has to stop! Too many are dying.
FIGHT for you loved one. Look at it coldly that they are going to die if you don't get involved with their recovery programs, because most do; either by over-drinking, drugs or suicides. It's a family disease, so act like it is. Demand to be involved.
Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis, and the sequel of Lori in Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism, are books of lessons, not just memoirs. I show how things should be changed, and include in the sequel, my actual talks to alcoholics in private locations. They are available in paperback and e-books.
I'm available for talks on "The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family." Email me for a quote [email protected].
An Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-Two of
Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.
Trying to Hold Us Together
(a reaction to Richie's drinking the night before)
The next morning Richie got up and acted as if nothing had happened. Instead of sitting down and talking calmly about the previous night, we ignored it. He took his coffee and headed down the stairs to his shop. By afternoon he was on his way delivering the television sets that were repaired. I sat, emotionally drained, with no energy to do anything.
Later that evening, he came straight home after his deliveries. I didn’t bring up the fight, because it would have led into another night of stress. I tried to hide my anger in front of the kids, but my insides were racing.
He was home for supper, and we sat in silence, except when we talked to the girls. The silent tension was just as bad as an argument. The strain between us was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. I couldn’t find anything nice to talk about because I was still fuming. I became an expert at holding my hurt and resentment in to keep peace within the house. My first concern was to not let Debbie and Lori feel the hostility between us. I wasn’t facing the reality that they were aware something wasn’t right with Mommy and Daddy because we were always upset.
Alberta- This seems to be an every day event for alcoholic famlies. Why do we keep enabling only bringing the alcoholic deeper into their addiction? Why don't we just demand getting out of denial and protecting our children from all the confusion and fear?
This is the Introduction to my memoir Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcholic Family in Crisis.
Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people along with heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and drug addiction. We hear and read about different diseases that kill people every day and how they leave broken-hearted families behind.
Who is considered an alcoholic and what are they like in behavior? We all have our own personal conception about what a person has to do in order to be considered an alcoholic. Usually, they’re labeled as habitual drunks.
Most of us picture an alcoholic as a person, curled-up and passed out among the over-turned garbage cans and found on a hidden side street between buildings or someone under a torn, grimy blanket sleeping on a park bench with a newspaper over their face and wearing ragged, filthy clothes looking as though they needed a hot, sudsy shower. In fact, a large percentage of the public automatically assumes it’s a man in this condition having the problem. Rarely does it enter our minds that a woman could be the alcoholic in these situations.
Our intellects come to the understanding and conclusion that the drinker has absolutely no desire to find a job or no wish to mingle with and contribute to society. We insist that many of them are living off the welfare system with no intention of bettering themselves. When we come in contact with the drinker, many of us lose patience with them or omit them completely in our conversations and social circles.
It’s more comfortable for us to pretend that they don’t exist. In other words, they’re not getting their act together to think and do things the way we believe they should.
Because our own lives are structured and orderly, we believe that we’re better than the alcoholic. We forget how blessed our families are to have jobs that pay well, three good meals a day on the table, independent lives, and the freedom to come and go as we like. This concept is what most people consider to be a healthy American life under normal living conditions.
The reality of an alcoholic’s life won’t hit us until we come in direct contact with a family member, friend, or a close acquaintance who’s struggling to combat this disease. Then we develop the need to understand fully and to gain the knowledge of what alcohol is doing to the alcoholic and the people around them.
Once the abuser’s actions start to affect our lives, we suddenly sit-up and open our eyes to what’s happening to the individual. The desire to help them is there because we love the person and can see that the disease has changed his or her personality, morals, and ambitions. The devastating fact hits us that alcohol is slowly killing our loved one.
The alcoholics themselves can become acutely aware that they are drowning in drink and still don’t feel the need or have the willpower to get help. For them, the battle to give up liquor has too many side effects, and it’s too hard to combat the habit, especially if this life-style has been going on for years.
It’s a struggle every day for an alcoholic to just get out of bed. Many spend their days sleeping. They skip meals because their appetite has disappeared, thereby causing more damage to their health because their bodies break down from lack of proper nutrition to keep them stable.
Many alcoholics who have tried to fight the disease don’t relish the unpleasant physical effects of going without a drink; instead, they give in and turn back to drinking. In their mind, taking a drink is the only way to stop the effects of withdrawal. They fear going to any public place, and the drinking imprisons them in their own home behind closed doors.
Their lives and minds are constantly in a confused state. Alcoholics live in uncertainty that immobilizes them. They find it hard to do anything for themselves or their families. All confidence disappears. They make up all kinds of stories in order to avoid doing anything that makes them uncomfortable.
Doctors’ appointments are cancelled because they fear what they may be told. Family events are ignored so they don’t have to hear about their behavior or their broken promises. They live in denial that they have any problem at all and believe they can stop drinking at any time.
Getting sober for an alcoholic means they’ll have to take the giant step of signing themselves into a detoxification center. There, they’ll experience what they feared: the shakes, being confined, and taking medicine that will make them feel worse before they get better. They’re subjected to answering personal, embarrassing questions and being cooped-up in a single room with strangers, whom they consider to be sicker than they are.
After weeks or months of drying out, they’re pushed into the outside world again to face the same problems that brought them there. Depending on circumstances, they’ll have to confront the people that they hurt, deal with job hunting, and return to having the responsibility of making family decisions. Some become paranoid, thinking that everyone is judging them and watching their every move to see if they slip. Some probably are being watched because the whole family becomes sick and confused from the disease.
If they don’t continue to seek professional counseling after being rehabilitated, join an AA group, or find a sponsor, most alcoholics go right back to the bottle, which is always there to comfort them with no condemnation.
Going back to drinking, or falling off the wagon as the expression goes, doesn’t mean that they want to—it means they’re sick. Alcoholism is a disease that is highly hereditary. It would be so much easier if drinking could be cured by simply taking a pill. The first step to recovery for the alcoholic is for him or her to want the help. No one can help them if they don’t want to be helped.
Alcoholics have the same wants and dreams as the rest of us. There was a time when they held a job, had a marriage, brought up children, owned a home and a car, and had a social life with their friends and families. Now, they have become frightened, misplaced human beings who have lost their dignity.
Alcoholism doesn’t happen overnight. The reality of their lives being out-of-control came when catastrophes started to happen all around them. Some drinkers are fortunate to be able to keep their lives fairly normal, but others don’t realize it’s a problem until they lose everything.
Society needs to stop looking at the millions of alcoholics as bums or low-class individuals who don’t want to better themselves. They have a disease that can reach the point of no return.
If a person has been drinking for years and wants to stop, the body may have reached the point where it needs the drink. The body craves it; then there’s no stopping.
Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round is based on the true story of my life living with and losing a husband to alcoholism. Slowly, our happy lives as a secure family started to fall to pieces at different stages. It seems completely incomprehensible to me now that I couldn’t see the signs of serious drinking from this uncontrollable disease. The book can be bought on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
By Alberta Sequeira
Change. How many of us hate to disrupt our routines? This is the same for substance abusers. My daughter, Lori, told me that the best times of her life was when she had been drinking.
I truly believe to her and others doing the same, that is was fun at the time, but Lori died from that action and habit. If it's not heredity, than look at just that; your actions and habit.
You don't do this alone. You cling to the people you call friends doing the same drinking and taking drugs as you. Why not? This way you feel you are not doing anything wrong. After all, "My friends are doing the same," you say.
There comes a time you have to honestly step back and look at what you are doing; slowly killing yourself. Your organs, liver, kidneys, heart and others can't keep up with your abuse to your body. It's like running a car with no oil thinking it will continue down that road forever, and it won't.
The hardest part getting sober is breaking away from your so called friends. They aren't friends. They are drinking buddies. Do you honestly think they care if you die?
I remember my ex-husband, Richie, staying out night after night after work to drink with his buddies. When he died at forty-five years of age, no one who spent those moments with him showed up for his funeral. They still sit at the bars.
You make your destiny. You are responsible for your actions. This is your battle. No matter how much family or your sibbling love you, we can only support you.
So the next time you get a call to go to that wild party or meet someone in that dark alley to get drugs, think twice. It takes more of a person to admit they need help than to keep playing on the tracks until the train comes full force at you.
I have been away soaking up the wonderful, warm sun of California for two weeks. I was relaxed and enjoyed life with no rushing with deadlines or stress. How we all need that gift. I guess we have to make the time for it and stop talking about taking that special trip. Life is too short to miss opportunities for ourselves.
On my return and checking emails, I had a guest blogger who wanted to share her insight with addiction. I posted it on my blog www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com and wanted to share this article with all of you. I hope you enjoy the helpful hints with neglecting our own health while trying to support a substance abuser.
Here is the article written by my blog guest Carly Fierro.
Addiction Has Hit Your Family … Are You Prepared to Help?
The signs often hide in plain sight. Your loved one is moody. He’s lost interest in his favorite activities. He’s ignoring commitments to work and family. He looks sick or has gained or lost weight. Maybe things are missing from the house. Then suddenly, it becomes glaringly clear – your loved one is an addict.
During recovery, the addict has the toughest hurdles to climb, but families of addicts have to face their own unique set of challenges, most notably what to do to support their loved ones through the process of recovery. If someone you love is battling addiction, the following may make the upcoming journey a little easier.
Recovery from addiction probably won’t be what you expect. Like many other life-changing experiences, only people who have gone through it know what it’s actually about. As a result, learning about the process from those who know about it firsthand will help light your path.
Read articles and blogs from counselors, family members and recovering addicts. Do research on the causes and effects of addiction on addicts and their families. Contact health professionals in your area and ask for their advice and insights. The more you know, the more prepared your family will be for the journey that lies ahead.
Provide Support and Assistance
The primary goal of an addict in recovery is battling the addiction, which leaves little time or energy to focus on other things like creating a safe and sober environment to live in afterwards. Your family can lift this burden by making preparations so the person in recovery can start anew.
Begin by ridding your home of alcohol and other habit-forming substances. Be conscious of behaviors that may have triggered past abuse and take steps to stop them. Also, be there to assist with your loved one’s additional needs. For example, if he works at a nearby fulfillment company, offer to drive him to work or look after his children while he’s there.
Take Care of Yourselves
You and your family will need to be there to take care of the recovering addict’s needs, but don’t forget to take care of your own as well. The process will be physically and emotionally draining for everyone, but resources are available that can help you cope.
Take care of yourself physically by exercising and eating a healthy diet. Many treatment programs offer counseling and support groups for friends and family; make the most of these groups, as other members are going through the same process. Finally, continue as much of your normal routine as possible to maintain greater stability.
Addiction affects not only the addict, but everyone around him, so be prepared for what’s coming. By educating yourselves, you and your family can go through the process with greater resilience, stability, and support.
Byline: Carly Fierro is an aspiring writer who currently works for a fulfillment company. In her spare time she loves writing about anything and everything. She loves that blogging allows her to share her writing with people all over the world.
In 2004, I never heard of interventions for alcoholics and their families. Maybe it was out there but I never discovered the program. It wasn’t until after my daughter, Lori Cahill of North Dighton, Massachusetts, died in 2006 from her addiction that I came across the broadcast one night by accident scrolling through the channels.
I felt completely powerless over my daughter’s struggle to combat addiction after she had entered three alcoholic rehabilitation centers and came out to only return to her drinking friends and hiding behind closed doors at home with her habit. My fear of losing her was at the highest point since her father, Richard Lopes of North Dighton, died in 1985 at forty-five years of age from the same disease.
I later learned that in the 1960’s, Dr. Vernon Johnson, a minister and his parishioners developed techniques for families to use. They were not professionals. Now they have interventionists who have become professionalized.
There are so many avenues for the addicted and their families to work together to help a loved one before they go too deep into their habit and actions and die from it. Lori had entered the Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island and twice at the Gosnold Rehabilitation Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
On November 22, 2006 at thirty-nine years of age, Lori died at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. How I wish the clocks could be turned back. Being told time after time that she had to reach rock bottom had us sending her on her own to come out of denial. Please refuse to believe in this belief.
I am reaching out to alcoholics and drug addicts to please get out of denial and over-come this disease that can very likely kill you if you continue down this path. Parents and loved ones, stop enabling them. You only bring them deeper into their addiction.
I am an Awareness Coach and can talk at your location privately or publicly to make you aware of the dangers of this health problem over-taking millions of lives, especially our children.
Why do people find it hard to forgive themselves or others, especially alcoholics? When I talk to them at halfway homes or rehabilitation centers, most feel the same with the difficulty with forgiving.
My daughter, Lori, felt like she was the black sheep of the family and her sister, Debbie, was the perfect one because she wasn’t fighting addiction. So Lori separated herself from her family, which she loved, and felt worthless. She gave in to her declining health with her liver shutting down and being bulimic instead of taking the help that had been offered to her three times in a recovery program. It’s so sad that she had lost the strength and desire to fight the disease.
If it’s not hereditary, which I believe it is, than it’s a choice to start on this path of using. Your siblings may chose not to get into the world of alcohol abuse or drugs. It doesn't mean they are better than you. Have you thought of who you hang out with or where you go to for “fun?” We all know right from wrong so it might be that you just like the feeling of floating out of this world and going into fantasy with your life. But you have to return to reality.
Maybe you lost confidence with yourself and have the need to fit in with the crowd. Look at the crowd and see where they are heading. This world of substance abuse can kill you after years of using. Face what is bothering you and change it, even if you need a professional to help you. It takes more of a person to ask for help than to keep drowning with pain and not recovering from addiction.
Maybe your past is darkened by someone who hurt you. To heal from the past, you need to forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean that the person in the wrong was right or that you have to associate with them. Forgiving heals “you” so you can move forward. Two things happen when you can’t forgive. Either the person who hurt you doesn’t know you are upset or they do and don’t care. Why give up a change to have a healthy life mentally because of someone like that?
Forgiving is a way of putting the past behind you and entering the door of recovery. Visit my blog www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com for updates on substance abuse.
I have had numerous people ask me what I talk about to alcoholics and drug addicts when I go to their locations behind closed doors. The first thing I want to do is give them hope and believe in themselves again. Somewhere beneath their habit and actions is the person, who not only enjoyed their families, but life itself. At this stage, getting clean and sober seems completely out of their reach.
I want them to hold their heads up high because they have nothing to be ashamed of being addicted to alcohol or drugs. They have a disease. In fact, it’s surprising when I hear that no one in the family has a problem with addiction. Probably eighty to ninety percent of students in most schools are on something.
The only shame with substance abusers is that most don’t have enough faith in themselves to fight for their sobriety. They give up. Too many have deep rooted problems from the past that they don’t want to deal with so they stay in a numb stage every day being drunk or they go out looking for the drug dealers.
I truly believe that when people feel lost, hopeless and alone that they need to turn back to prayer. Patients say, “Oh, I don’t know how to say the rosary or maybe a novena.” I tell them that it’s okay because God already knows that. He knows every single thing about each of us. If we don’t open our hearts to let Him, we won't feel His love and support.
I try to explain that prayer is just talking to God like I do to them. A simple prayer each morning can be “Please, God, help me get through the day with no using.” At night, even if it was the worse they ever had, to never end the day without thanking God because He is giving them another chance to get it right.
If any business, organization or substance abuse rehabilitation centers wants me to speak on “The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family”, they can contact me for a quote at [email protected]. Visit my blog www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com for updates on substance abuse.