Health & Safety

July 18, 2014

Scars of DUI: It ends with me

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Madison Sylvester
Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

DUI-edit
As a young child, you don’t think much if someone doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to because you have better, “more important” things to worry about; like bugs and dolls. They’re just another shape flashing around you in your own little world.

Occasionally, a child will stop and ask a question about the sky, or their toys, or where their parent is. The answer always seems to be, “Oh Honey, they’re right over there,” and life goes on without a hitch. When I stopped playing one night in 1998 and asked the question, “Daddy, when is Mommy coming home?” it brought everyone around to a sudden halt. My father cleared his throat and blinked a few times, obviously taken by surprise that his 3-year-old was asking this question so early. He replied quietly, “Mommy isn’t coming home sweetie … she’s living with the angels now.” My mother was killed in a head-on collision March 24, 1997, as a result of drinking and driving.

That wasn’t the beginning of her relationship with alcohol, however. Her decision to drive home after drinking this night was not her first time doing so. It was a regular thing.

Consumption of alcohol, or rather the inability to stop consuming it, had ruined my parents’ relationship. Already in the process of divorce, they had been fighting that particular day over my mother breaking into my grandparents’ liquor cabinet. The attempt to lie was immediately wiped away with the first glance of her. So she decided that she would leave, she tried to bring me along with her but my father was able to wrestle me away. My dad wasn’t worried, he thought she would take a walk down the street to calm down; he thought he had the keys. Little did he know, she had a spare set made. Almost running him over in his attempt to stop her, she sped off.

My father got remarried to a wonderful woman†six months later and because I didn’t understand, I didn’t act like anything was wrong. It wasn’t until I was five years old that I really, fully understood where my mom had gone. People had stopped sugarcoating things and telling me that I was “too young to get it.” Never wanting to upset the woman I now called “Mom,” I waited until I had my father alone to ask again, “Daddy, what really happened to Mommy?” Judging from the look on his face, he had thought he had some time before any real explanations had to be given. I quickly apologized seeing the distressed look and got up to rush to another room but he stopped me and said, “No, it’s okay, I just didn’t think I would have to do this so soon…Your mother had a problem.”

A problem. That’s what we hear today when someone invites alcohol into their lives for too long. A problem. A mistake. What my mother had was not simply a problem; my mother had a disease. One that nobody cared to diagnose her with because that would mean their own failure. She would get sad and drink, she would get mad and drink, and soon she had made any emotion an excuse to drink. I grew older with conflicting images of her. “She was a wonderful mother; she loved you, so full of life and laughter.” “Your mother was a liar, a cheater, and a drunk.” Yes. I had a woman who married my father, gave me a little sister, and took on the task of taking care of me too. But there was always a hole that couldn’t be filled in me. I had questions that people felt too guilty about to answer. Did I do something so wrong that she needed to drink again? If she REALLY loved me, how could she be so careless? I was grieving years after everyone else had moved on.

However, I learned to deal with my own hurt and turned it into understanding and proactivity. My mother was not the only person to ever have alcoholism. I was not the only person ever to lose someone this way nor would I be the last. I would not allow myself to be a victim, but an advocate. The one thing that I took away from my own loss was that I never wanted anyone else to go through it again. My family brushed her addiction under the rug because addictions are ugly, they’re taboo, and deep down inside they didn’t want to admit that their daughter, sister and granddaughter wasn’t okay. But the truth of the matter is she wasn’t and others aren’t either.

I urge you to help your wingmen. If you notice that their “weekend fun” is turning into “everyday fun,” say something. If you suspect that they’re having hard times, say something. Even better than that, DO something. Don’t let them get in that car after they’ve been drinking. We have so many resources that can help prevent the loss of another brother or sister in arms. Most people are not willing to look at their own reflection and say “I have a problem. I need to stop.” Help them. Love them. Support them.

This disease is long-standing in my lineage. I will be the one to end it. Will you do the same with our Air Force family?




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Air Force promotes fatigue countermeasures

Human fatigue results from sleep deprivation. Fatigue has become a growing concern in the Air Force as sustained and continuous operations, along with global deployments, are stretching the ability of our forces to meet growing mission demands. Some Airmen may question whether fatigue is really a big enough hazard to worry about. Fatigue can decrease...
 
 

TRICARE Online and MiCare have similarities, differences

TRICARE Online and MiCare Secure Messaging may seem to offer the same services, but there are important differences to these software tools, designed to enhance access to care for all military beneficiaries. “Both programs are endorsed by the Military Heath System, and although they may seem very similar, in actuality there are a few differences,”...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Melissa Buchanan

Driving distracted rivals alcohol, speeding in crashes

Air Force photograph by Melissa Buchanan Distracted driving can be deadly. One area that remains a large safety concern is unsafe and distracted driving. What is distracted driving? According to www.Distraction.gov, distracted ...
 

 
promo

Team Edwards June promotions

Team Edwards saw a dozen enlisted members pin on to the next rank during June’s promotion ceremony held June 30 at the base theater. Congratulations to all promotees! To senior airman Mitchell Mosier, 412th Aircraft Mai...
 
 
history

Break out those running shoes and get ready to ‘run with history’

The second annual Edwards Run with History 5K, 10K and Half Marathon is coming Oct. 3. Gates will open at 5 a.m. for registered runners and the event will start promptly at 7 a.m. on ramp†six on the flightline. Half marathon ...
 
 
supplements

Keeping Airmen healthy and informed through Operation Supplement Safety

For peak performance, Airmen should eat healthy and exercise regularly. But in the quest to gain an “edge,” many Airmen resort to dietary supplements. Enter Operation Supplement Safety, or OPSS. This Defense Departm...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>