Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Week at Booze Camp

The most prominent piece of not-so-authentic-art in my childhood home hung in our kitchen. It was an inexpensive copy of The Serenity Prayer. It stared at us and shone down upon us every day, during every meal and at any hour. ‘God grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I Cannot Change…’ My dad was a recovering alcoholic and this was his constant and powerful prayer. Our telephone often rang in the deep hours of the morning and I would then hear my father scurry about and leave the house. I never knew, nor did I ever ask, who had called, why dad had left at such an odd hour or where he had gone. Those unasked questions were answered at a very sad moment and in a very dramatic manner. At my father’s funeral there was a line of men stretching two blocks long. As they moved past his casket most had tears in their eyes. Many would then come over to my mother and say something like, ‘Your husband saved my life. God bless you.’
About nine years later, on the day after our wedding, Sarah and I took a rather long detour across the length of Pennsylvania en route to our modest honeymoon in The Great Smokey Mountains. It was her idea. We spent the afternoon visiting another one of my family members at an alcohol rehabilitation facility. This involved tears and laughter, heartache, shame and ‘The Courage to Change the things I Can…’
About a month ago someone that I love – another someone that shares my blood and my genes - someone for whom I would surely lay down my life – decided they had a debilitating drinking problem. Less than 24 hours later – and with the selfless and understanding assistance of a few friends and family members – this remarkable individual was admitted into a special facility that deals with matters of the heart, soul, body and mind. During the third week of the program we were asked to attend four days of family group therapy. Monday through Thursday – for about 8 hours each day – we met in concert with two counselors and family members of eight other residents at the facility. It was intense, moving, heartbreaking, exhausting, enlightening and revolutionary. I choose to share no more about it other than to proclaim that I thank God for that place and those people.
Things will be different now. Because I’ve lived around this disease my entire life I thought I knew everything there was to know. I was terribly wrong. Surely I can still be of value in certain future situations or crises. Surely I have learned that I must stay out of the way most of the time. ‘God grant me The Wisdom to know the Difference.’


Blogger mayorjones said...

I come from a family with similar demons. I am one of the fortunate ones that has never been pulled very strongly in that direction, but have stood by and watched as others have. I'll never forget sitting with an uncle of mine when I was very young, and he was talking about the dangers of booze. "It'll take everything you've got", and it undoubtedly has to many. Thanks for the story Thom, and God bless those that continue to struggle...

September 16, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger rossovivogirl said...

It is such a frightening and insidious disease . . . and it looks a little different on everyone who wears it. But so many aspects of it are the same. Its reach is infinite and so very deceptive. And I'm sure my limited experience in its midst is but a fraction . . .

August 3, 2011 at 2:52 PM  

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