My friend Frank’s drinking had gotten out of control according to his wife Sally. He was missing important meetings at work. She could never predict what condition he would be in when he arrived home if he arrived home at all. It seemed impossible to continue to hide his unhealthy choices from their children.
She had pleaded and begged with him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Her cousin Ralph had gone to Alcoholics Anonymous, he no longer drank and he had just recently stopped by the house to return $500 he had “borrowed” from Frank and Sally several years ago.
Sally knew if Frank would just go to AA life would be happy again.
Too many mornings Frank had promised Sally he wouldn’t drink that day and when he made the promise, he meant it to his soul. Yet, 10:30 at night would find him returning home, drunk and painfully unable to explain “why”. Unable to go through it again, Frank agreed to go to AA the next day. Sally suggested they call her cousin Ralph to take him to the meeting but Frank assured her he could find the meeting himself. That evening he was home at 5:30 for dinner. After dinner, he showered and went to the 8 PM AA meeting held at the North Main St. Church. The meeting ended at 9 PM, Frank should be home at 9:30 PM, Sally waited.
Just before 9:30 Frank pulled into the driveway and almost danced into the house. Sally hadn’t seen him this happy in years.
“Well”, Frank said “I went to AA. It’s a mighty fine group of people. It’s very popular too. So popular, in fact, the group is full. I filled out the registration paperwork and they put me on their waiting list. A member will call me when a spot opens up. In the meantime, he said “They told me just go ahead and keep drinking and tell you not to worry”.
Silly? Maybe, but not really that far fetched when you think of some of the stories your loved one has told you to protect their right to drink.
I am grateful to Embrace Recovery for providing you and me with the venue for sharing experience, strength, hope and support. It’s hard to know what to do, where to turn, who to believe. Life with the substance abuser is about more than a substance but it’s all gotten so confusing. What most likely started out as fun was joined by problems. At first the problems were small and manageable. There were hangovers, sick days from work or school, maybe a missed soccer game or forgotten important birthday. As if fitted with blinders, we do not see as the problems increase as the fun dissipates. Our friends begin to invite us out less, the phone calls slow and then stop, family time is less and less important and seemingly suddenly almost in the blink of an eye, I am isolated and I am lonely and its irrelevant whether I am the substance user or the family member or friend of the addicted person. If our relationship is close, the need for substances put a wedge between all social interactions and through it all, we struggled to take the first step toward health and connections.
Make a fist with your right hand. Hold it as tight as you can. Squeeze it more and continue to hold it. Your forearm may be starting to hurt but continue to hold your fist as tight as you can. If you can hold it for two minutes, do that. At the end of the two minutes, slowly release your hand and slowly let your fingers begin to unfurl naturally. Notice how it feels. You are tempted to close it back up to stop the sensation.
living in isolation and loneliness is like that fist held tight. Beginning to seek solutions is like the initial opening. We need cheerleaders, coaches, mentors, counselors, teachers and spiritual leaders to encourage us to continue to let the fist continue to open fully. This is treatment and this is recovery.
Today, there are very few people who do not know someone in some type of recovery. What used to be the “family secret”, the family member we try to keep hidden, is now the lead character in movies winning Academy Awards.
Alcoholism, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, recovery, these are all common words and yet, when it comes to you and me or my family member, I am baffled at where to start and what to do. We are uncertain of the question we want to ask or, if we know the question, we might not know where to ask it.
Embrace Recovery has given us the opportunity to connect with people interested in treatment and recovery. I think what we really want when it comes to addiction, is experience. Experience that makes us laugh and experience that makes us think. We are being provided a venue for asking questions and getting answers that make sense. Does this mean I think I know everything? No, but I’m pretty sure I can find an experience to share with you.
Treatment works, recovery happens – you and I simply need to connect to start the process.
By the way, Frank was arrested for driving under the influence and spent the night in jail. Suddenly there was an opening at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and he has been sober for 32 years.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s experience this journey together. You will remain anonymous.