Friday, July 28, 2006

lost days, nights and weekends

I ask myself how I could give birth to a person, live with that person for 19 years, work with him, talk to him and watch him grow up, and not know he was an alcoholic. In the whole mix of events and the things leading up to my son's arrest, I ask myself how I could be so blind, so unobservant and foolish. I lived with an alcoholic parent, and had one with both a drink and chemical addiction added on during my teen years. I witnessed first-hand the ravages of addiction to a human being and a family, the lies, the trips from the county lock-up, unexplained injuries, late nights and days missing from the family calendar, the fear that a DUI would end in someone's death, the fear of being in the car with someone DUI-the constant emotional upheaval and uncertainty of living a life with someone under the influence of liquor or pills. The one-word question was always "Why?" Don't you love us enough, don't you care enough, don't you understand what your addiction does to you and everyone you love....and now, a child trapped, and I did not see it. After the inevitable consequences came the stories and some truth-and finally hearing that it was simply unbearable to wake up in the morning.

I just finished reading Augusten Burroughs memoir, "Dry". It was an account of his journey to come out of first severe alcoholism and a cocaine problem added on top. I thought the book would help me to understand my father, stepmother and son, and I was afraid of a slow, torturous read that would leave me just as bereft of answers and in more pain that when I started reading it. I could not put the book down. This man's honesty and writing style served as mirror, if not to my family members, to me. I saw myself reacting in ways that alcoholics do. I saw the deception that I've practiced in my life, the denial. I realized how very true it is that alcoholics have a different physiology than the average person. It doesn't matter why they drink in terms of making it any easier to bear knowing-they simply CANNOT drink. They can't. Ever. And when they do, being drunk or high is their only reality. I began to find a way to put my arms around the inexplicable and see that there truly is an answer. But it begins with person themselves, and I cannot continue to be a party to the deception, once being aware.

At the conclusion of the book tears were slipping out faster than I could reason why or stop them. It was the reflection of a wasted life and a loss of time and things that could never be brought back. I saw my son's suffering through the eyes of someone who had lost the one person in life he realized, too late, that he loved. But there was redemption, in that, in the memoir, the person Burroughs lost through AIDS and death left a reminder of himself beyond the grave, a reminder of the love they had shared, which brought him to life again. Miracles do happen, but it has to begin with a desire to live life in all of it's pain and glory. Thankfully the author chose life, and I'm believing my son has, too.


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