Name: Natalie Borkowicz
From: Tempe , Arizona
Her Name Was Kim
Her Name Was Kim
Kimberly was my half sister that I never knew. I was shielded by my mother to believe that Kim had made too many bad decisions in her lifetime. This was the reason she wasn’t around the family. In our family her name was a synonym to drugs and addiction. I could not help but wonder why it had to be this way and why I was never allowed to have a relationship with my sister. As time went on and I began discovering the truths behind her life, I soon realized that none of it was her fault. In May of 2013 Kim lost her battle with drug addiction. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a substance use disorder is characterized by cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms that precipitate someone to continue to use drugs despite significant consequences to drug related problems.This is often chronically relapsing. It is important to inform people about what addiction is, not only how it impacts the person, but how it impacts friends, family, and the community at large. Additionally, it is a huge public health concern, and unfortunately, not enough is being done. One of the main issues of this precipitating cycle of addiction is our society stigmatizes mental health, teaches us to suppress our emotions, and not prioritize our mental health in the same way we prioritize our physical health.
I remember watching the movie Beautiful Boy and it made me reflect on how addiction impacted my family. I realized that my family and I, especially my dad, was not just struggling to accept Kim’s addiction, but mourning the person that she used to be. He was mourning over the daughter she was, the lost dreams that she would not fulfill, and the relationship they no longer had because of her addiction. I watched him blame himself every time he received that phone call in the middle of the night. Throughout the movie you see Steve Carell’s character battle within himself when all he wants is to be able to believe and trust his son again. This is exactly what I saw my dad go through. It was agonizing for me to see my dad live it over and over. It is easy to take all the blame when they pass because you are left with all of the unanswered questions. People try to convince themselves that they are the reason for the death which is not the truth. I want to tell Kim’s story to shed light on the harsh realities of how addiction impacts a family.
Kim was not only a daughter, she was also a mother to her two son. Her addiction to substances influenced her ability to be a proper caretaker. One of the more painful parts of addiction is that you start to lose sight of the priorities in your life. Your number one priority is obtaining the drug, and wanting to know when your next high will be. Child services were called on Kim . She was seen as an unfit mother who chose to expose both of her sons to her drug addiction. After the countless times she told herself that she would be better for her children, the drugs won every time. She had lost custody and had to live with the unbearable fact that she could not put her own children first. Although Kim’s mother was able to adopt one of my nephews, the other committed suicide in foster care at a young age. I saw the impact it had on my nephew, he never had a relationship with his father, broken promises from his mother, lost his brother and continues to struggle with the traumatic events he has to live with.
She had met her husband in rehab which was a recipe for disaster. It seemed to me that whenever one of them relapsed, the other did too. It was a relationship that brought out the worst in each other. It was freshman year that I finally discovered that it was a lot worse than my parents had made it out to be. I do not blame Kim for her battle with drug addiction, but I do wish I could take away the suffering it caused my family. To see your father cry is something I will never forget.
I share this story to raise awareness for addiction. Kim did not leave this world solely as the women who over dosed. She was more than her addiction and I truly believed that she was strong enough to recover. I want people to understand how Kim’s addiction impacted her own life and her loved ones. There are many issues in the world we live in, I have only experienced a small portion of suffering. However, I want to study psychology to pursue a career as a therapist to help people work through their pain and path to recovery. The people who struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental illnesses have one thing in common. As human, we are entitled to feel and express our emotions, choose to be vulnerable, and have someone journey with us.
If there wasn’t such a negative stigma revolving around mental illness, I believe more people like Kim would feel more accepted in this world. We put addicts in this box to believe that they are unworthy. We convince them from the very start that they don’t have a lot of options after they have chosen this way of life. Realistically they have another chance at life. As a clinical therapist I want to counsel people who struggle with drug addiction and other mental illnesses. I want to live in a world where we prioritize mental health and therapy is normalized. Kim will forever be a constant reminder of why I’m pushing to see change in the world that we live in.