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| Category: || General Non-Fiction |
Posted:|| March 30, 2018 Views: 525|
Chapter 1 of the book Shaking the Family Tree
Rehab: Keeping it in the family
"Our Alma Mater"
A family, whose genetic history contributes to their addiction, struggles to break the chain.
I've trudged many miles to get to this; my vanishing point. I have not traveled alone. I drag behind me generations of my kind. We often travel in packs, keeping others at bay, hoarding our secret. The vast terrain that has claimed many of us is strewn with the souls of those who sought escape from poverty, abuse, low self-esteem, and life in general. We found a magic elixir. It became our family's coat of arms.
hides inside a Goddess
For a while, it erased our fears and insecurities. We gulped greedily from its promise as it seeped through the cracks in our armor. We dressed in layers of false courage, fluffed our feathers and strutted across life's stage, immune to the snickers of a disgusted audience. We cast aside our problems and they became the property of those we loved. Then, without warning, It betrayed us.
heir declines offer
cannot afford to pay
How does one measure loss? In increments of currency, in a log of failures penned in stained tears, or perhaps, on the pages of our calendars crammed full of wasted years? I used to think that once important things were declared lost, they were gone forever. But, I am living proof that sometimes those things we hold most dear can be retrieved in even better condition than they were when we so carelessly misplaced them.
Three months had passed since our last visit to Chit-Chat, but I couldn't let go of the reflection of sorrow captured in the rear view mirror that day. It continued to haunt me. I tried to focus on the scenery, but the image of Luke, tears streaming down his cheeks, hands shaking so hard he could hardly steady the bottle of warm beer as drops of it trickled down his chin, was embedded in the farthest reaches of my soul. I was that person with a toothache who subconsciously trains his tongue to go where the pain is. I spent the entire trip pushing the replay button.
Chit-Chat, our destination was the original site of Caron's substance abuse and treatment facility. It was a scorching Sunday afternoon in August 1987. Wrapped in fear, trepidation, and a smidgen of curiosity, I lugged my suitcase out of my sister Gerri's trunk and reluctantly entered the reception area. Too late to renege. Gerri had paid for my incarceration in advance
The six-hour drive had been peppered with bits and pieces of her own rehab experience at Chit-Chat three years prior. And punctuated in my mind by those heartbreaking flashbacks of Luke's trip.
In May of that same year, we delivered my oldest son, Luke to that same drug and alcohol program where my sister, Gerri had sobered up. Luke's first twelve days were spent in detox. At age twenty-eight, addiction had already robbed Luke of fourteen years of his life.
Beaten down by guilt and a sinking feeling of powerlessness over his disease, I finally surrendered to the fact that I needed help, too. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I had to--for Luke. So when Gerri and her husband threw me a lifeline by offering to pay for a week of intensive therapy in the co-dependency program, I grabbed hold.
Unlike Gerri, who had actively sought out help for her drinking, I was there for a different reason--and for a much briefer period of time. My treatment plan was one that was designed to help those who were adversely affected by a loved one's addiction. But I had mixed feelings about therapy.
My initial induction came once again at the hands of my sister. After thirty days of abstinence and what she referred to as the unraveling of her denial, she dove head first into recovery. She joined AA, searched out an Adult Children of Alcoholics group in our area, and dragged me along to every meeting, kicking and screaming. Admitting that my father, my hero, might be an alcoholic labeled me as a traitor. How could I even entertain such a notion?
Gerri seemed not to care about my feelings. Her only goal was to get on with her life and recover from her own addiction. I didn't blame her, but I also didn't share her optimism.
Guilt spun its web of broken threads
Tangled me in misconceptions,
To label my dad an alcoholic
Tasted bitter--spelled deception.
Dad didn't sleep beneath a bridge
Or shirk his duties as assigned,
He gifted us with values
And never voiced a thought unkind.
Clad in love that wasn't frayed
We never went without,
He was nothing like the guy next door
Who drank all day till he passed out.
An alcoholic, in my mind,
Was an embarrassment and flawed,
Incapable of pulling off
This family-man faÃ??Ã?Â§ade;
Uncaring and abusive,
He would stagger, curse and shout.
His appearance and environment
Would prove beyond a doubt,
That here's a prime example
Of what a drunk is all about.
I couldn't grasp the concept,
Nor admit and then accept,
That alcoholism's a disease
Infecting those we least expect.
Yet here I was, on the doorstep of what was beginning to feel like our family Alma Mater, about to subject myself to the torture of exhuming all of the pain I had been trying to tap-dance around for years. Something told me I was about to be skinned alive.
I slipped into my cool and collected persona for the intake, but I was sweating bullets and Gerri knew it. Once I was signed, sealed and delivered, Gerri took me by the hand and led me outside and around the back of the building. We followed a garden path to a small domed structure surrounded by rustic benches, tucked under and shaded by weeping willows. A sign posted to one of the trees welcomed us to Serenity row. Now that's a dichotomy; weeping willows and Serenity Row.
I was still clutching Gerri's hand. When we sat down, and I finally released it, she gave me a look that said I'm the big sister here today.
"This is the Chapel, Dallas," she said. "I thought a quick prayer here couldn't't hurt."
I was in no position to argue with her. We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity.
I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. When Gerri arose and took me by the hand, I reluctantly followed her lead, and we entered the chapel. It had been so long since I had been inside a church, I expected God to pierce the dark with lightening bolts. Feeling unworthy to be treading on foreign soil, I nudged Gerri into the nearest pew.
Gerri whispered in my ear, "Just pray for honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness." She squeezed my knee. "I know you may not think so now, but down the road, you will count this experience as one of your greatest blessings."
God, I prayed she was right. I knew I had at least scratched the surface of those lofty goals the day I filled out the family history form relating to alcohol usage. That was the first time I took a serious look at how many members were wrapped up in its tentacles. Jumping off the pages were images of my father, a grandfather I had never known, my sister, my mother's sister, and my oldest son. No elbow room here for denial.
A flood of unpleasant memories had come forth groomed in ugly incidents, nasty accusations, and numerous arguments--all involving alcohol--washed over me. This was my family, the people I loved, how could this be? I felt like I was flailing around in a festering pool of
toxic sadness without any floaties. Could this place
possibly rescue me?
|The book continues with The Unveiling. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
I often wonder, had it not been for my sister, would any of us made it into recovery.
and 2 member cents.
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