Today was another long day at a hospital. I really have to say that years ago in my life before I never really understood how dangerous alcohol was. I mean I knew. Kind of. I remember my dad talking about how painful it was to grow up with an alcoholic. I remember how careful he was around us and how he never let us see him drink more than maybe one drink. I remember his vow that he would never punish us when he was upset. I knew about the dangers of addiction because I was raised by a man who would forever be haunted by the ghost of addiction. I didn’t know of the damage that could come from just being born to someone dealing with addictions. I remember the rose colored glasses of feeling like we got “R” young enough to protect her from all damage. See we got her as a baby so she would never know any harm from her mothers addiction. Oh wow how wrong we were.
Now seeing “R” as a growing young woman we have watched her struggles. We know that she will forever live with and pay for what alcohol did to her in those months she was being formed. She was one of the lucky ones. She has none of the medical complications and she is “higher functioning”. I will argue with anyone who wants whether she is lucky. She feels like she is somehow lacking all the time when others see her confusion as an act or as laziness. When they constantly barrage her with words that she cannot process because they can’t see how she is struggling.
Today I hold a girl who while she never lived in a home with addictions will also always pay for those. She I guess wasn’t so lucky. Her life is always being guided by a new medicine or new therapy. She spends days and weeks and months of her life in hospitals. She will always be dependent on others for her care. Watching her try to be still during painful procedures and long long days I just admire her strength. I also admire “R”‘s strength as she never lets others crush her spirit or her determination. I often wonder if I could truly be as strong as they are?
Could I keep going in a world that doesn’t really understand what alcohol can do? I read articles all the time volleying back and forth on whether women should be drinking or not. I wish they understood. That these women got that it isn’t even just addiction that is harming these kids it is merely alcohol. Alcohol is a SOLVENT. Put it into developing cells and what does a solvent do? It eats them. It destroys them and if it is diluted it “just” damages them. So I guess maybe when our little diva drags her right leg we can guess that it just damaged that part. Goodie. And when she constantly seizes again that area of her brain is just damaged.
Why do we need alcohol? I guess I really wish someone would answer that for me. Does it improve our life? Does it make us smarter, faster, better? I know for some a social drink is a way to relax. Well so is yoga. I want my journey to help someone to know that there are better choices. There is no safe amount when you are pregnant. I want people also to know that FASD is not a choice an individual is making. They are dealing with traumatic brain injury that has taken place prior to birth. They are worthy and awesome and in need of people being educated to see that. I always ask my kids before I go do a training what they wish others would know. I love hearing their answers. So many of them ask for others to understand that they aren’t dumb…it just takes them longer to understand sometimes. The other response is that they all have things they can do really well (and boy that is true). But I gotta say Doodlebugs answer is the one that always gets me motivated and that is that he loves them. And well you see he does as he loves everyone with an innocent spirit that is so rarely seen.