I’m not an addict, but my father was. Something happens to you when you are the child of an addict that is almost impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves. Fear, disappointment, anger, hurt, guilt, and a gamut of other emotions run their course through your body. You never quite know how you are supposed to feel, only how you actually feel.
Recently, I read an article about Scott Weiland (famed front man of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver) that literally crushed me. Why? Because it felt like this letter, written by his ex-wife and mother of his children, was being written about my own father twenty years ago.
I remember being in fear for my safety when I was with my father. I remember seeing him drunk and high—so out of his mind that he couldn’t stand, and yet he would drive with us in the car. I remember the things that no child should ever have to experience.
I remember the crushing guilt I felt for years after he died, because I didn’t know how to feel both sad and happy about his death. A mix of emotions that I still, to this day, struggle to understand.
I remember the mix of emotions that washed over me when, for the first time in twenty years, I stared into the eyes of a half sibling who was the spitting image of the man I both loved and hated. I remember crying to my best friend that I don’t know how to love on this person that I have searched two-thirds of my life for when his face brings back so many memories that I had locked away.
Watching the story of Scott Weiland’s death come across the headlines broke me. I stood in the shower and cried. I didn’t know Scott Weiland. I have heard his voice on the radio, but I have never so much as seen a picture of him until the day he died. But, I knew his children…not personally, but figuratively. I could only imagine the heartache and pain those kids were feeling at that very moment—and then to have those private moments thrown on display for a world of strangers to examine.
Those strangers got a very different picture of the man those children knew, I am almost certain, and it breaks my heart for them. I know the emotions that will tear their heart into a million pieces for years to come. I know that one day they will get a whiff of something that will remind them of the man they knew and it will cut to the very deepest fibers of their soul. I know that when they least expect it a wave of emotions will come crashing over them.
I also know that at some point they will sit and wonder how it is that they can feel both relief that he isn’t there to hurt them and sadness that he is gone. That feeling will eat at them. It will make them wonder how they can even be human.
I hurt for those people I have never met. I hurt for their hearts, their souls, their emotions. I hurt for them. I am angry for them at the man who never gave them what they deserved in their life. I am angry at the strangers who will sit and discuss how this man was so great, and ignore the fact that he was an addict who abandoned his family…I know, I have been there. I am angry at our society for not putting more time and effort into figuring out how to help addicts.
I have lived my entire life being caught between anger, hurt, disappointment, fear, and guilt; and now my heart breaks for these people who will continue to live their lives with the same emotions.
I didn’t know Scott Weiland, but I did know Joe Tietze…and I fear they were almost the same person. I would challenge others to not look at this man as a hero or rock-God, but to look at him for what he was.
Be sad for his children and the mother who is left to comfort and try to fix their broken hearts. Be sad for his fans who will miss out on his music. Be sad for the lost soul who never found its way to recovery. Be sad for the millions of families who are stuck living in these situations with no voice—and no hope for a way out. And then….then, get up and help figure out a way to be a change in this drug addicted world.
Help someone else never have to feel the pain that so many others have felt.
[Photo credit to Aleah Helton]
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