Endigar 816

From Courage to Change of March 24;

I had a very difficult time believing that alcoholism was a disease. I was convinced that if they really wanted to, alcoholics could stop drinking. After all, I quit smoking. Wasn’t that the same thing?

Then one day an Al-Anon member likened active alcoholism to Alzheimer’s disease. We see our loved one slip away without their being aware of what’s happening or being able to stop it. They look perfectly normal on the outside, but the sickness is progressing, and they become more and more irrational and difficult to be around. When they have lucid moments and once again seem to be themselves, we want to believe that they are well, but these moments pass, and we despair. Before long we find ourselves resenting the very people we once loved.

I’ll always be grateful to my friend because her explanation helped me to accept the reality of my situation. Once I did, it was much easier for me to separate the disease from the person.

Today’s Reminder

When I accept that alcoholism is a disease, I am forced to face the fact that I am powerless over it. Only then can I gain the freedom to focus on my own spiritual growth.

“A family member has no more right to state, ‘If you loved me you would not drink,’ than the right to say ‘If you loved me you would not have diabetes.’ Excessive drinking is a symptom of the disease. It is a condition, not an act.”

A Guide for the Family of the Alcoholic

END OF QUOTE—————————————

My mother told me of the time her Father died in Mobile. Initially she maintained that he had been crossing a road with her and her kids and he heroically pushed them out of the way of an oncoming vehicle. He was hit and hospitalized. She held him after the accident. It wasn’t until my adolescent years that an elder in the family let my Father know that what she was remembering wasn’t true. Dad took her to a solitary place to confront the delusion and faced her wrath for doing so. What a hard moment that had to have been for them both.

The reality was that she adored her Father and resented her Mother for leaving him. He was an active alcoholic who never found the solution. He went to the hospital with failing internal organs. It was the progression of the disease robbing him of any possibility of a heroic exit. He died before my Mother could get there. I believe she was around 16 or 17 years old during the Christmas season. Bing Cosby had just come out with a song, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas,” and for a long time she was not able to listen to it with reliving this  pain of that time. She said that it was so impossible for her to believe he was gone. She suspected she was being lied to. She would see the back of a stranger’s head and would go running up to him; “Dad! Dad!” Only to have the vision crushed as the surprised man turned around. She lost it for a little while.

To grow up with her was to dance around trip wires of her often irrational fear that she was being left, abandoned, and rejected. Dad said that he never knew what he was going to find when he got home. Her children were all injured in their own ways by her untreated response to her alcoholic Father. She was sick with her Father’s disease.

What if either father or daughter had grasped the reality of the disease as a disease. My Mother asked her minister if her Father was going to Hell. He was inconclusive. What if she had been able to see that it was not a loss of love or faith that drove him to a tragic end?

The comparison of the addictive disease with Alzheimer’s is potent and pretty accurate. I wish I had known my Grandfather. I wish I had known my Mother unshackled. I am glad that I can look back through the lens of the program and separate the person I love from the disease I hate.

Rest in peace, Mom.

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