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This is Grief - Katya Nicholas

Turning Grief into Light


This self-portrait is from 2008 when I was grieving... a lot of things.

Today I’m grieving a loss of life to drug addiction. 

Yesterday I found out that a friend passed away from an overdose. And as the Universe would have it, I got the message right after a call with a friend who needed someone to talk to and one of the things we talked about was their friend’s addiction. 

We talked about what addiction is and what it is not. We also talked about codependency that caregivers mistake for love when they are closely connected to an addict. 

This is all too familiar to me. Not because I am or was an addict, but because I grew up around a few. 

Both my parents were alcoholics. My brother started doing drugs at some point and then turned to alcoholism. Both addictions made him aggressive and unrecognizable. He was not the brother I had known as a child. 

And of course as any normal human being would do, I tried really hard to fight their addictions. Literally fight with them physically to drop this. 

It didn’t work. And that is my whole point and the reason I’m writing this today: unless you are trained to provide support and help addicts to get over addiction, you can’t. They need professional help. When you cave in to their asks, you’re not helping; you’re enabling. And man, can they lie to get what they need.

When my dad was bringing my mom countless bottles of booze, because she was asking — sometimes nicely, sometimes with threats and insults, — he thought he was doing it out of “love”... it wasn’t love. It was codependency.

He then ended up dead when two teenagers hit him over the head with a bottle and he fell down the stairs breaking his neck. He couldn’t maintain balance and not fall, because he was drunk. 

I was 19 when this happened. I remember asking my mom to stop drinking. She didn’t, because she couldn’t.

When my mom later was allowing my brother to shoot drugs into his veins in her presence, so that he’s “at least doing it in a safe place (home)”, it was not love. It was codependency. 

I know how incredibly difficult it is to recognize your own helplessness when it comes to trying to fix these people, and I also know that not trying to help feels like not loving. It feels selfish. But it is not. This kind of “loving” may turn into a downward spiral for everyone involved... 

And there’s a whole other side to the codependency: lack of self-love. Not recognizing one’s worth. Insecurities. Negative self-talk. All that other crap.

I don’t normally like talking about all the dark stuff I’ve lived through, because we’ve had enough darkness since last March and way before last March, and I’d much rather show up for you in all my bright colors, but I wrote this today because I’m calling on all my Human Lighthouses: Shine your light as brightly as you can. Become an inspiration. Share your unique stories. Be thought leaders. Lead by example. 

I cannot handle people’s wasteful passing and my hope is that together we can show the way to self-love and feeling of worthiness by setting all the right examples...

March 11, 2021

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