‘Never Let Your Fear Decide Your Destiny’: A letter to a friend who is struggling with addiction

by Peggy Sweeney

I know you are fearful that people will be disappointed if they learn you are an alcoholic. Most of your family members and close friends already know.

Dear friend, I think of you often. Tonight, I decided to put my thoughts on paper.

When I was in my early forties, I was a young wife and mother of three small children. Due to circumstances at that time, I planned my suicide because I thought that everyone would be better off without me. I felt hopeless. Helpless. I believed I was a failure to my children, to my husband and to everyone who loved me.

That changed one morning. I awoke determined to make something of my life. I vowed that I would never let anyone suffer alone with depression without offering them my help.

Fast forward thirty-something years later. I have had a wonderful life most people only dream of having. Yes, there were unpleasant days, but I never gave up on my dreams. I never let fear stand in my way of helping others.

I tell you this because I believe you are allowing fear to decide your destiny. It could be the fear of failure or the fear of disappointing family and friends. Sadly, fear may destroy the many blessings you already have. Fear that “if they knew” may end your career. Fear may cause you or a co–worker to sustain an injury on the job. Fear may cause your death.

There are several reasons why I am passionate about helping first responders cope with the mental stress of their job: traumatic grief and addiction.

First, I was a mortician, firefighter, EMT and am a bereaved mom. I, too, have seen what your mind cannot forget. I have comforted the grieving and held them tight because this was the only choice I had to help them begin their journey through grief. I have been honored to share my story and teach officers and first responders how to cope with their nightmares, fears and their unbearable grief.

Second, I have had to live with the grief of a much loved family member who chose suicide because fear and depression made him believe he would be unsuccessful in achieving his goals and supporting his family.

Lastly, I cope daily with not hearing from my son, Tim. He once had an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Where is he now? Is he safe? We, his family and close friends, have not heard from him in nearly eight years. I try to stay positive and pray he has sought help. He had dreams of becoming a chef and opening a restaurant of his own. I believe fear may be  destroying his future. It may ruin his life. I don’t want that to happen to him. Or you.

I know you are fearful that people will be disappointed if they learn you are an alcoholic. Most of your family members and close friends already know.

On the other hand, they are afraid of telling you that they know of your addiction because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Or they don’t know how to get you the help you need. Or hundreds of other reasons.

My dear friend, you carry a lot of respect in your community, whether you are a firefighter, police officer, dispatcher or medic. Within your department, some men or women share your problem and have the same fears that you have.

They may have lost their identity and their families. Think for a moment of what an impact YOU would have on them if you stopped letting fear control your destiny. What if YOU took the lead and sought help for your addiction.Talk about saving lives! The possibilities are endless.

I will continue to pray for you, as I do every night for Tim, that you will turn your back on fear and seek the help you need.

Do not hesitate to ask for help from a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy. Drop by an AA meeting just to listen to their stories. Connect with someone you feel comfortable with, look them in the eye and say, “I NEED HELP!”

HUGS, Peggy

Copyright Peggy Sweeney. All Rights Reserved.

My endorsement for police officers, firefighters, EMS, their families and departments needing help is to contact Don Prince at 561-282- 8685 or dp92962@gmail.com . He is a former Fire Chief who, due to his alcoholism, was terminated from his department. He is now celebrating long-term recovery from addiction. His expertise includes:

  • DISCflex certified Behavioral Health Coach
  • IMAC , International Master of Addiction Coaching – trained and certified in the following:
    • Addiction Recovery
    • Eating Disorders
    • Gambling
    • Family Ethics
    • Life Coaching

About the Author: Peggy Sweeney is a retired mortician and bereavement educator. She has developed  and taught countless workshops for coping with grief and trauma including the Grieving Behind  the Badge program for emergency response professionals. Peggy has hosted support groups including Halo of Love for bereaved parents and Comfort and Conversation for grieving adults and teens. No stranger to grief, she is a bereaved mother and grieves the death of a much loved brother-in-law who completed suicide. She has written award-winning articles for national organizations and local newspapers. Peggy also served her various hometowns as a firefighter and EMT-B. She has devoted her time and efforts to making a positive change in the lives of others and reducing the number of suicides which are becoming all too common in the military and first responder communities. She was humbled to receive the Firefighter of the Year award from her Texas fire department. You may contact her by email peggy@sweeneyalliance.org

“Never Let Your Fear Decide Your Destiny” is taken from The Seven Sisters, a novel by Lucinda Riley.

To receive future articles, click the Follow Life Skills
button on the left-hand column on the home page

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.