Life Doesn’t Have to be Easy to Be Good – The Great Canadian Woman

September 14, 2020

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Paula ter Kuile

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Life Doesn't Have to be Easy to Be Good

Something that I have learned in the last four and a half years, is that you cannot judge a book by its cover.  I know it’s a cliché.  But it is for sure true.

If you were to meet me at a party, you might just think that I have it all together.  I dress well, I am intelligent, soft spoken but not shy to speak what is on my mind.  I am unique- my tattoos tell you that.  But my tattoos are colourful and pretty, so it wouldn’t make you wonder about my past, but rather let you know that I have confidence in who I am.  Also- I belong to the opposite of a minority- I am a straight, white female from an upper middle- class family and nothing about how I present myself would make you think I had any troubles in my life at all.  

But the inner workings of my life are so much more complicated than what you see on the outside.  

I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and have only been sober for three years.  My life has never gone in the direction I thought it would, but with every twist and turn and every ache and pain, I knew something better would come along if I could just keep moving forward.

I came to my addiction in a very innocent way, starting to drink alcohol as a teenager and engaging in behaviour that would fall under the “normal” young person umbrella.  But if you were to really analyze my behaviour- I was always the drunkest of my friends, never just having one or two drinks.  When I met my love match, he was much the same, but we added pot to the mix (yes, pot is addictive, don’t let people tell you otherwise!)  We fell furiously in love, always willing to party and living a life where having fun came first.

But we were normal too- we wanted a family and we had our daughter Daisy in January of 2012.  And here is where the main giant twist came in.  Daisy was born with a small head (Microcephaly) and had extensive brain damage that caused her to have severe disabilities.  I became her nurse, PSW and mother all rolled into one.  I spent my days taking care of her, driving her to doctors’ appointments and trying to give her as much happiness as I could.

At the end of each day, I would collapse on the couch and drink wine and split a doobie with my husband.  It was the only bit of “normalcy” I had in my life and I started to rely on it like a life preserver.  I was what I would find out later is a functional alcoholic.  I had a perfectly functional life, being able to handle all that came my way, as long as I could finish my day with wine and weed.

Daisy’s health began to worsen in 2015, and when she got three respiratory infections in a row at the end of that year, her body was just not strong enough and she passed away on January 3rd of 2016 (her fourth Birthday).  

As you can imagine, I plunged into my addictions like diving into a lake on a warm day.  Everything I did and everything I was became tied to alcohol and weed, not being able to get through a single day without both of them running through my system. My marriage fell apart, I moved into my Mom’s and I didn’t know how to survive without Daisy.  

I got to the point where I could barely make it to noon without a drink and would smoke pot pretty much as soon as I got up until I went to bed.  I hit my bottom in June of 2017 after going on a bender after a suicide attempt.  I truly had nothing left and was desperate for change.

Through the help of AA and loving family and friends, I have now stayed sober for just over three years and I am grateful for every moment that I have been able to do so.

As you can imagine, my life is not perfect.  I am still a grieving mother and there are days where I am not sure I can make it out of bed.  I have a Daisy shaped hole in my heart that will never go away and life will never be easy.  

But I have learned that life doesn’t have to be easy to be good.  I can connect with friends and family better when I am looking through sober eyes.  I can see the small miracles of life when I look through sober eyes.  

And most importantly, I can connect with Daisy’s memory when I look through sober eyes.  Alcohol and weed disconnected me from the love that I have for my daughter, and without that love I wouldn’t be able to keep moving forward.  Giving myself space and time to connect with Daisy on a spiritual level has been the best gift of sobriety and though I would rather not live with grief, I am finally okay with the grief that I have.   

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