Staying Sober Through a Devastating Loss

Chelsea and her father had the perfect relationship. Her memories of her father are happy ones; weekends spent together, family vacations, love and lots of laughter. Chelsea and her father were inseparable and their bond was undeniable. When Chelsea was active in her addiction her relationship with her father was tested but their connection remained strong. Chelsea had 18 months of sobriety when she lost her father to leukemia. Her story is a true testament that one can remain sober even through immeasurable loss.

The connection Chelsea and her father had was one that most people would envy. He was protective over her and she always felt safe with him. He was a hard worker, always providing for his family. Weekends were devoted to spending time together as a family. Her mother and father were loving and affectionate towards each other. Chelsea began drinking and using at a young age. Her parents turned a blind eye during the early stages of her addiction. As she spent more time away from the house her father tried harder to keep her close. Chelsea entered many treatment facilities only to quickly revert back to using as soon as she returned home. Chelsea admits that her father didn’t have an understanding of addiction at first. He began to understand how serious the problem was as Chelsea’s addiction progressed.

Chelsea clearly remembers a moment she shared with her father one week before finally getting sober. “I had moved home and was dope sick. I was crying, shaking and sweating. My dad just held me and told me that I was going to be alright,” remembered Chelsea. Two weeks later Chelsea got sober. Her father had been skeptical of treatment until she entered her final sober living. After a couple months he noticed a change in his daughter. Their bond became stronger than ever. He had always stressed the importance of a Higher Power and for the first time they bonded over this mutual belief in something bigger than them both. The focus of their relationship was no longer on drugs and alcohol. Their relationship had evolved into something more beautiful than it had been; they were happy, healthy and living without fear.

When Chelsea had a little over 6 months sober she found out her dad was sick. A support group was held at her sober living residence to inform her of the severity of her dad’s condition. The support group was made up of girls from her sober living house and it’s management. They surrounded her with love and provided the support she needed to receive this devastating news. Her father had lost significant weight, was fatigued, and suffered bone deficiency. The cause of his illness had yet to be determined. The progression of his illness continued over the next year. Chelsea drove from Los Angeles to her home in San Diego at least once a month while she was in sober living. Before her father became too ill to travel he arrived in Los Angeles to give Chelsea a cake in celebration of her one year of sobriety.

Chelsea had 14 months sober when her father was diagnosed with leukemia. The following months were filled with trips to the hospital, chemotherapy and dialysis. Chelsea prayed constantly for him to get better. She tried to be a positive force and held out hope that he was going to be alright. During this time she relied on her then boyfriend and girls from her sober living for support. She remembers visiting her father in the hospital and lying with him in his hospital bed. She was grateful to be able to spend the time with him, even in his weakened state. At one point the doctors determined that the treatments were no longer effective. The doctors informed Chelsea’s family that they should begin to make arrangements and enjoy the time they had left.

When asked if she ever thought about drinking or using during this difficult time Chelsea replied, “It wasn’t even an option to relapse. If I didn’t have the support from the sober women and friends around me maybe I would have thought about drinking or using. My recovery was strong. I knew this was something I would walk through sober.” During this time Chelsea increased the number of meetings she went to. She found a sponsor who had lost her father and was comforted in their shared experience. Chelsea shared her fears at meetings and people gravitated toward her, while offering endless love and support. She prayed constantly for her dad to get better. She remembered a moment when she started to pray for God’s will for her father. At this point she began to comprehend that maybe her dad wasn’t meant to make it through this. She developed acceptance about her dad’s condition and believed God had a bigger plan for him. This was a pivotal point in Chelsea’s spiritual development. She shared that at no point did she hate God. She feels her acceptance and faith in God at this point was in part due to the bond she had with her father about God and spirituality.

November 16, 2011 was Chelsea’s parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. On that day, Chelsea received a photo from her mother. It was a picture of her mom and dad. Chelsea could see in the photo that her mom looked sad and her father’s eyes were closed. Her mom told her it was time for her to come home and say her goodbyes. When Chelsea arrived she could see that her father was in pain. That night, Chelsea spent her final moments with her father. He died at home that night. Chelsea believes that he waited for her to come home.

There isn’t a day that goes by that Chelsea doesn’t think about her father. She stated that she doesn’t cry as often anymore, her memories of her father are happy ones. Chelsea often feels sad for those who don’t have a close relationship with their father. She feels blessed to have had such an amazing dad. She knows that her father wanted her to live sober and happy. When quite ill, Chelsea’s father expressed a wish that his daughter stay sober even through this devastating time. Chelsea has done so.

verified by Psychology Today

  • Debbie O-A
    Posted at 10:19h, 21 May Reply

    What a beautiful love story…between father and daughter…and God and child. Thank you for sharing.

  • Aida Shadfan
    Posted at 12:38h, 22 May Reply

    Chelsea – Your dad was an awesome man! I remember him from volunteering on the same PTA at schools. I remember the day he called another mom telling her about her daughter using drugs and offering help. That day I thought to myself wow what a nice man! I’m sure your dad would have so proud of you and your achievements.

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