Name: Sarah Foley
From: East Amherst, NY
Alcohol Abuse: Thinking About the Children
Alcohol Abuse: Thinking about the Children
My mother, Juliane Foley, loved me. She told me every time I saw her, often with tears in her eyes. I usually responded with, “Actions speak louder than words.” I couldn’t understand why, if she loved me that much, she would treat me the way she did.
My early childhood memories come back in flashes: being held over Niagara Falls by her drunk boyfriend, being left on the street as a toddler for hours as she drank in a bar, calling my father and begging him to come get me because she was in a drunken rage, and the man with the badge asking me where my mother was while I was playing on the porch. Of course, my mother didn’t remember these events. She remembered the times spent together in the backyard, walking around downtown to get ice cream and to see the man that blew bubbles out of his window, and hiding Easter eggs in the yard for me to find. I also remember the good times. However, the bad times outshadow the good.
My mother only had custody of me for about two years, but those years left permanent marks on my psyche.
In contrast, my father, Timothy Foley, also loved me. Every time he told me, I would tell him that I loved him too. Memories of my time with him are nothing but positive: the two stray cats he took in, watching Finding Nemo while eating cantaloupe, and my fourth birthday party with silly string and balloons. This was what my early childhood should have been filled with. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to experience more memories with him.
Both of my parents were alcoholics. Both of my parents lost their lives to their addiction. However, only one parent accepted help for their addiction. My father fought to stay sober for me and my siblings; why couldn’t my mother have fought to stay sober? Why do parents succumb to their addictions, when they should be attending their child’s graduation?
Now that I am older, I understand why it was so hard for my mother to not drink. I understand that she did the best she could; I just wish that her best could have been better.
My story is like thousands across the country. Children are experiencing the same trauma and neglect I did, but not all of them are receiving the support I did. It is because of this support that I am breaking the cycle of addiction that has plagued my family.
When I walk across the stage at my high school graduation, I will be doing it for the children that didn’t have the same experience as me, children that are still witnessing alcohol at its worst. However, I will also walk across the stage knowing that both of my parents loved me, despite the trauma that occurred while I was in their custody.
To Parents: Think about your children. Your job is to love them to the best of your ability. Accepting help for alcoholism will increase this ability tenfold. It is your responsibility to end the cycle of addiction, and to pass this belief to your children. Your decision to have “just one more beer” can leave horrid memories that your children will never forget.