15-Year-Old Author Writes to Help Other Kids Cope

by Chase Block

(Jacksonville, Florida)

Excerpted from Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death

” title=”Excerpted from Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death


Excerpted from Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death

Excerpted from Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death

It was New Year’s Eve 2009, and I was hanging out with friends at the beach. Even the coldest days in Jacksonville get up to 65. With some iPODS, some sodas, a few burgers and some of the guys, it was a perfect day to kick back by the water. We were comparing horror stories about midterms, arguing whether or not “Benjamin Button” was any good, and debating who had better skills on the court — Kobe Bryant or Lebron James.

The day went from sunny to dark, though, when I got a call from my mom.

“Hi, Honey,” she said in a slightly slurred voice. “I had a little bit to drink because it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m at Andy’s house. He’s going to come pick you up.”

I was so disappointed. Mom had actually stopped using pills and drinking for two years after her “divorce” with alcohol, but started back up. Now she was drinking heavily around Andy, a new guy she was dating.

She didn’t really want to get back with her husband Scott because of the way her feelings for him had changed. Several times she had moved her things back into his house and tried to make a go of it. She gave up after a couple of attempts – she told me “there was no love there” anymore, and the house had bad memories for her.

The Choice

It was obvious Mom’s physical and mental health were in danger from her pill and alcohol addictions, and a few weeks after New Year’s, my brother and I knew we had to do something. We realized we were the most important thing in Mom’s life, so we gave her a choice – she could continue drinking and abusing prescription medications, or she could spend time with us. She couldn’t have both. On one hand we didn’t want to be that harsh, but we also knew that her sons were the only thing she had worth living for.

My dad warned me going into it, “This could get rough, and she might not make it.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but it’s the right thing to do.” If she was going to get and stay sober, she needed tough love. She was killing herself with alcohol.

When my brother and I went to see her, it was an emotional meeting. Mom was well known for being able to switch moods quickly, and this time she got angry –- she screamed, and she cried. She pleaded with us. But we didn’t back down.

After that difficult conversation we just kind of waited to see the direction Mom decided to take with her life. We were upset to hear she spent the week drinking and partying. At the same time, Dad’s divorce from my stepmom was finalized. It was a very tough week.

The night of Friday, February 27, 2009, was clear, with just a sliver of moon in the sky. Mom had been staying at a hotel near Jacksonville, Florida for a few nights, and got in a minor car accident while she was high on pills and driving. She lost control of her Mercedes and hit a palm tree, but wasn’t hurt in the crash. The police arrested her, and took her to jail.

Since he’d been through a similar battle with his addictions decades ago, Dad’s idea was to just let Mom sit in jail for a bit, and with a little luck, she’ll hit rock bottom and climb back up. We hoped the promise of being able to see my brother and me again would be the push she needed to take back control of her life.

Scott bailed Mom out of jail, and he begged her to come home with him. She refused. Looking back on what happened next, we all realize that while she was in jail, she had already made the decision to take her life. She went back to her room at the hotel.

When Mom didn’t answer her hotel phone Sunday or Monday, Scott became concerned. He drove to the hotel, and got the staff to unlock the door to her room. They made him wait outside while they went in to see if my mom was there. What they found was horrible – Mom was dead. She had shot herself either late Sunday night, or early Monday morning.

As we pieced the story together later, we realized she had stolen one of Andy’s guns, and hidden it in her hotel room. When she got back to the hotel after spending time in jail, she was alone, exhausted and depressed, and the gun was right there. She just gave up on her life.

Dad’s Confession

Probably the single biggest thing that helped me realize I wasn’t responsible for her final act was what my dad shared with both my brother and me. Because he always wanted us to have a positive image of Mom and her family, he never told us the truth about her life until after her death. Her mother was a bad drunk, and Mom had a terrible childhood. Her mother would tell her, “I’m going to the store, and I’ll be back in an hour.” Then her mom would show up three days later, drunk, often with some strange man. Sometimes the man would violently attack my grandmother. My mom, who was terrified, would crawl out her bedroom window and run to the neighbor’s house to call 911 for help.

Mom had pretty much been fighting to stay sane and alive since she was a kid, and her depression and suicidal thoughts had started long before my brother and I gave her our conditions, and even long before we were born. The stories about her terrible time growing up were tough to hear, but Dad knew it was the only thing that could prove to us her suicide honestly had nothing to do with what we said to her the last time we were together.

There were lots of places my mom could have gotten help – a therapist, AA, rehab – but until you realize you have a problem, and you’re ready to ask for help, it just won’t do any good. She’d tried counseling, and rehab – but only because my dad or Scott insisted. She just tried to ignore her horrible childhood, and she wasn’t ready to admit something was wrong, and that she needed help to try to get back to a normal, happier, healthier life.

No one can “fix” anyone else unless that person is ready to be fixed. And if they just refuse, you have to accept that it’s their choice, and it’s not your fault.

Chase Block is the 15-year-old author of the new book, Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death. Chase’s parents divorced when he was 5. He wanted to help other kids understand what to expect when parents split, so he started outlining the information he wanted to share. The day before he began writing his book, Chase’s popular mom committed suicide, shocking and devastating the community. Instead of shelving the book project, Chase felt renewed urgency to share his personal journey from devastation to hope in order to help others dealing with similar tragic situations. Chase is considering a career in politics, and lives in Jacksonville with his dad and brother. To learn more, visit:

http://www.chasinghappinessbook.com or


Similar Posts