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I Will Be Silent No More

Created by Bria Riley

I Will Be Silent No More

My whole life, I always sensed that there was something different or something amiss. My dad has been an alcoholic for as long as I could remember. Some of my earliest memories were screaming, things breaking, cops, etc. As I grew to be an older child, I started to pick up on everything, but I never understood really why things were the way they were. The only thing I knew was when my Dad drank this clear liquid called vodka, he became a completely different person.
2010 was a real turning point. My dad was sentenced to 7 months in county jail for 3 DUIs and 10 years loss of license. My aunt and my mom were having a feud, and my grandmother’s health was on the decline at the age of 86. My mom always worked two jobs, and since my dad was incarcerated, she needed someone to look after me because I was only 10 at the time and wasn’t capable of being alone at night. So my mom had her cousin look after me.
In the beginning, going to my mom’s cousin’s house was actually quite a luxury because I would be showered with affection, food, and we would talk for hours. But as time went on, I started getting caught up into the wrath of their addiction and co-dependency lifestyle. My mom’s cousin was an alcoholic who passed out drunk after dinner and a chronic co-dependent, and her two children (20 and 21) were addicted to pain pills and cocaine. They would get violent, belligerent, and bring in their girlfriends and do things of sexual nature. Hell would have been a vacation. I was afraid to tell my mom because I didn’t want to burden her and start trouble. Part of me actually thought it was semi-normal because it was similar to what I grew up with in my home.
After I stopped going to my cousin’s house after a major blow-up with my aunt, I started feeling the trauma of what I witnessed. I was left feeling despondent, broken, and desolate. I felt sick. I was just miserable. On the outside, I appeared to be alright, but on the inside, I was a wreck.
Over the next three years (my middle school years), I went up and down with my emotions. I walked around every day carrying my baggage. Eventually, I became addicted to looking up my cousin’s drug “friends.” It started out as a sparked curiosity, and a need to help my cousin in some way, to a desperate measure to help myself which subsequently became a full-blown addiction.
I looked up over 200 people over the next year and a half. I thought I was resilient and untouchable, but truth is, no one goes through such trauma without feeling some type of repercussions or being damaged in some way. I believe that I had PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), undiagnosed. No one ever believed I was having such a hard time on the inside because on the outside, everything was great. I was a straight “A” student taking Honors classes, I enjoyed my friends and I just seemed like your average young teen on the outside. In 6th grade, I attempted to help my cousins, but things didn’t work out because after my one cousin (the then 20 year old) got sentenced to 5-7 years in prison, that was just a dead end. After he got sentenced and I called giving my condolences, that started a fight between my mom and my aunt. I felt like a failure, but not as in helping them, as in failure in myself for not being able to help myself. For the two years prior, I just used school, friends and just appeared genuinely stable as a Band-Aid. After my cousin got sentenced to prison, I just broke down into a depression which lead into my own addiction.
When I began a correspondence with my incarcerated cousin, it was going pretty well. I was as excited as a kid on Christmas every time a letter came in the mail. Though I was wrapped in my addiction, it made me feel stable. He became my favorite cousin whom I “loved more than anything or anyone else in this world.” How that came to be after his abuse is unknown to me. I guess it was another coping mechanism.
In October 2013, I launched my website liveandletliveshare.wordpress.com which was about a variety of issues such as addiction, dysfunctional families, etc. Then in November, my book A Stolen Childhood was released on Amazon and later at Barnes and Noble. It was a fictional story that I wrote briefly on my own personal life.
In November 2013, I went to go see my cousin in prison, and from our correspondence, I thought he would have a really positive attitude and would be very motivated about his recovery. But I learned that wasn’t the case. I went back in January 2014, and he was really obnoxious. He told me about who he “hooked-up” with and showed great pride in being the wild child drinking and doing drugs from the age of 12. He criticized me for being the “good child” and mocked me. That was when I decided just to detach myself by not worrying about visiting him, just writing him occasionally.
In March 2014, I was on The Addiction Show with Shira Goldberg discussing my book A Stolen Childhood and my website http://www.liveandletliveshare.wordpress.com. My family saw it which started a huge fight. My mom’s cousin even called Shira Goldberg and said that everything I said was a lie, but Shira knew she was just another one of those family members in denial.
Ever since then, I have completely disassociated myself from my family just as my parents have. I realized that I missed out on a critical growth period (age 10 and a half to fourteen and a half). I feel like emotionally I wasn’t growing during those four years of being in that cloudy world. I was being stifled with all of the stress and my addiction. I also missed out on years I could have been having fun, but unfortunately, that can’t be changed. But I can’t go back and get those lost years back, I just have to move forward, live for today, work on growing up, and work on my recovery.
I’m focusing on my recovery from my co-dependency and emotional instability. It has been challenging at times. I have good days and bad days where I feel free and really motivated like nothing in the world could stop my momentum while others I just feel down, depressed, and that my efforts are futile. But I get through those rough days by praying to God, reading His word, and trying to soak in His presence as much as possible before bedtime.
I keep telling myself that this life and world are not going to treat you the best every day, but I must not quit on my recovery because I know that the further I progress, things will get increasingly better. Though I may get tired of recovery at times, I know that this is what I must do for my health and success and that remaining status-quo will not get me anywhere. I just have to take it one day at a time and accept hardships as the pathway to peace through the help of God. We all have a strong desire for freedom as it is the key to a life well-lived, but freedom has a price tag. Only in recovery and surrender can we truly become liberated from our emotional bondage.
Everything that I have been through during those four years of darkness has pushed me so far. I have goals and desires. I want to graduate high school, attend community college to become a paralegal, be independent, continue writing and doing addiction work, and possibly marry and have a family. After all, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
If you are reading this and can relate, I want you to know that there is hope. You can be free. You have to just give it up to a Higher Power and also have the strength to surrender and the courage to change. In time, things will get better. If you are an addict and know that children are affected, I beg you to get into recovery because it is not only about yourself, it is also about the children.
There is a stigma about addiction that it is shameful or makes someone bad. That is NOT the case. Would you place judgment on someone that has cancer or heart disease? No. Many may believe that addiction is an exclusive disorder, but that is also not the case. It is a disorder that affects the whole family. Addiction is a disease as painful as any other and is traumatic for every loved one of the addicted person.
That being said, I choose to be silent no more!


This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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Comments

1. Megan Fritz
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Bria!
2. Megan Fritz
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Bria!