Last night as I was flipping through the channels trying to pass the time, I stumbled on a show called Intervention. I’d heard of the show but had never actually seen it before. Since there was little else on at the time I watched a few minutes of it. This particular show was about a 47 year old alcoholic woman named Janet.
As the storyline progressed, we learned that Janet had gone from being the “ugly duckling” as a child to an over sexualized adult. At a fairly young age she married a man who was a drug dealing millionaire. He gives her everything she could ever want – turning her into a woman of leisure. During the course of their marriage, which seemed to last nearly two decades, they had two boys. And despite her seemingly happy life she began to abuse alcohol.
Once her storybook marriage ended she quickly married her second husband, and had two daughters within a fairly short period of time. She continued to feed her addiction to alcohol, allowing it to consume her. She neglected her children, her husband, and her home. Her addiction became so overwhelming her husband had to quit his job in order to stay home and care for their children – ensuring their safety. Despite his own wishes, he’d finally filed for divorce and had kicked her out of the house just a few months before the show, in order to protect his parental interest in his children.
At this point in the show, Janet’s living with a sister and is only allowed supervised visits with her four children. Through the entire show she’s plastered out of her mind, she cries constantly, and she keeps claiming she doesn’t want to live anymore. She’s also dating a 75 year old man, even though her divorce isn’t final. Her life is generally a mess. As you can imagine, during the last 25 minutes of the show her family confronts her and begs her to go into rehab. Like a proper TV drama queen, she throws a huge fit – flails about, cusses a bit, cries, gets angry, yells at the host/therapist, threatens to leave, etc. She eventually agrees to go into rehab, gets sober, re-discovers her love for art and begins using it as a part of her therapy; she thanks her family profusely, and the story has a happy ending.
As you can see, I was drawn into the show fairly quickly and I stayed for the duration. However, the entire time I was watching it I felt conflicted. This woman reminded me so much of my own biological mother, Shirley. Her mannerisms, her speech, even her facial features reminded me of Shirley. As I watched the show I saw what Shirley’s family must have gone through before she went into rehab.
I also saw how torn the children were, and I could identify with them most. I was angry at this woman for putting her kids through this. I was angry at the husband for not standing up to her and putting her in rehab long before the show was taped. And it seems that it dredged up all the old feelings I had for my own mother – the abandonment, the lies, the drama, the false hopes, the shattered dreams, the manipulation, the guilt, the disappointments, the pain.
As I lay in bed last night, tossing and turning, the show kept running through my mind. And the more I thought about it the more agitated I became. I wasn’t angry because the woman got help, but because her family would have another chance at a life with her. I felt cheated. I was jealous of their time with her. I wouldn’t wish the premature loss of a parent on anyone, but I sometimes feel that my life has been cheated because of my own loss. I am grateful that my own mother was able to get treatment, and was clean and sober for nearly 7 years before her death; but those 7 years did nothing to erase the 14 years I had to live without her.
I hate alcohol and drugs. I hate addiction. I hate what it does to people and families. The scars that it leaves behind are the ugliest kind.