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.


 
 

 

News Briefs September 26, 2014

Varicella vaccine available The 412th Medical Group Immunization Clinic now has the Varicella vaccine available for children 12 months and older who are TRICARE beneficiaries. The clinic is open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and noon-4:30 p.m., Wednesdays. For questions or concerns, call the clinic at 661-277-3427.  Blood drive The next American...
 
 

When leaders earn their keep

It’s no secret that a key to being a good leader, military or otherwise, is taking care of your people. I strongly believe Airmen aren’t able to perform at their peak if their personal lives are in disarray. Whether financial woes, marital issues, illnesses or other troubles, it’s tough to be at your best when...
 
 
road-closure

Road closure in support of new bulk fuel storage construction

Beginning Oct. 6, barriers will be set across the intersection of S. Muroc Dr. and Wolfe Ave., and also across S. Muroc Drive and Sellar Ave. The closure is necessary to install a new eight-inch fuel line across South Muroc. Tr...
 

 
aafes-retirees

Edwards Exchange honors military retirees

To pay tribute to military veterans’ enduring sacrifices, the Edwards Air Force Base Exchange will salute America’s 2.4 million military retirees with “Still Serving” events, a week of special savings a...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Local NCO honored by Dodgers

Courtesy photograph Tech. Sgt. Robert Sumner, 412th Security Forces Squadron, sits in the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout Aug. 23 before a game against the New York Mets. Sumner was honored as the Veteran of the Game that day. The L...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara

Edwards Abilities Expo Oct. 9

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Michael Botte, 412th Communications Squadron Information Technology professional, initiates a call Sept. 22 via a video communication device. The video communication devices are provided throu...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>