Opening up about alcohol abuse

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Sheshatshiu woman recalls hardships of youth; offers support for alcohol ban

Lorraine Rich (centre) states that despite what she endured as a child, she could never hate her alcoholic parents. They are Philomena and Dominic.

I am the second youngest sibling in my family; I was born and raised in my home community. My family used to go to nutshimit (country) for three months, twice a year when I was a kid. Education back then wasn’t important to my family, other than our culture; honestly I have learned things from both of my parents about nutshimit. 

Best times were travelling with my dad by foot when he was checking his traps; we would walk all day and stop at noon for a boil-up. I remember he would always check if I was thirsty or if I was tired.

I have good memories with all my sisters and brothers that were at our camp. We used to go together and put up rabbit snares and check them the next day.

Always scared

The best part of growing up was being around with my parents when they were sober.

I was one happy kid when the Catholic priest would give them a card for sobriety, depending how many weeks it said, they had to give a commitment, to follow what it said on the card. I have vivid, good memories of my childhood growing up in an alcoholic family.

I am a kind of person that worries about a lot of things, of today and tomorrow and so on. A lot has happened in my community of Sheshatshiu since the time I can remember. It felt like every home was full of drunkened people, nowhere to go and scared at the same time.

I say to myself: “Will it ever end?”

Tainted by hatred, bullying

Social problems are increasing rapidly. Every small incident that happens here, it spreads fast like fire. The hatred and bullying have taken over. So what do we do as adults? We just sit back and let it happen in front of us.

At a very young age, alcoholism took over my parents. As a baby, I was traded for alcohol so my parents could drink and party, but they forgot all about me. I grew up in a lot of different homes and I lost count on how many.

A 10-year-old girl worried everyday where to find shelter or if she was going to eat that day. I can clearly remember myself thinking: “Why did I come into this world if no one cares about me?”

I was crying for help and that help never came. I have seen so many things in my lifetime that I never want any child to see. I have seen a lot of violence and abuse in so many ways in front of me that it has scarred me for life.

While we were driving home one evening, my husband and I were talking about our community, wondering if it will ever improve. I try to think positive and to never give up hope, for the sake of my children and my future grandchildren.

I guess the point I’m trying to say is I’m so overprotective of my own family, and who wouldn’t.  My reasons for feeling like this is, I never had anyone in my life growing up to protect or love me, but today my children have someone to protect them, and that’s me.

A poisoned community

I always tell my experience, about how alcohol affected me growing up. There is never one story that brought good memories about it, nothing positive to tell until I had children of my own.

Drugs have taken over our youth and families. The new things that are coming into our community are poisoning us.

Eventually, more things are coming and we still sit back and let it happen in front of us. The weakest people are the ones that are targeted; people that sell street drugs in our community.

Do you think they actually care for you and your children?

Don’t let anyone play with your mind; these are the things we need to think about before accepting something in your hand.  

We all have different effects by the illness of alcoholism. Most of us just curl up and try forgetting about it and where we came from.

For me, I am not embarrassed about who I am and the damages it did to me as a person. I know I can never go back and undo the damages, but I can move forward with my life, with my children, and to never give up hope.

Thank you all for reading my personal information why I support the ban.

Lorraine Rich writes from Sheshatshiu. She is the mother of three adult children, and is also a foster parent. She is married to Gregory Rich.

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  • Terri
    January 31, 2014 - 12:26

    Thank you for sharing your story, you are a true inspiration for anyone struggling with someone who suffers from alcoholism. Always break the silence so no one in your shoes feels alone! All the best to you and your family.