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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Please Drink Responsibly

When Patrick Branson contacted me about helping with his upcoming documentary and told me the name "Please Drink Responsibly" I was reminded of the time when Riley argued with me that it was OK for him to drive drunk because he had been doing it for years and nothing bad ever happened. He was insistent that it was not right for anyone else to drive drunk, but it was OK for him because he had experience.  

Please Drink Responsibly is a documentary film produced by Patrick Branson. There is no corporate funding for this film. It exists from donations given by people like me and you. They are at the end of production but do not have enough funds to get it finished. They are so close yet so far.

To donate to this film and get it out there to the public, please contact Patrick Branson by leaving a message or comment on his Facebook page at:

As family and friends of alcoholics and alcoholics, we all know how important it is for films like this to be aired. Please join with me in making it happen.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The state of sobriety

There was a full moon on Wednesday night. I admired how bright and shiny it was with its ability to light up my entire yard. Intellectually I know that the moon only appears white because it is reflecting the light here on earth. Still, I revel in its beauty and can almost feel the magical power emanating from the shine.

I could use some magical power these days. Riley has not been feeling well. Besides not feeling well, he is having a difficult time communicating with the nurse about his pain. Often times he simply says that he just feels yucky in general then will yell out in pain a few minutes later. Ask him where it hurts – his answer is on his entire right side. If I had magic powers I would just wave my wand and be able to see his pain.

Often I will say something to a person about Riley no longer drinking. Everyone oooos and ahhhhs about how his sobriety is wonderful. I’m told that I should at least be grateful for the lack of alcohol. I know they mean well. I smile and nod.

Back in the day, if Riley had quit drinking and was still able to maintain a quality life, I would be ecstatic about him kicking Miss Vodka to the curb. It would have meant a chance for us to have a “normal” life.

I’ve given up reminding people that he is not sober by choice. He is sober because alcohol destroyed his body and brain. If he could he would still be drinking today. While being bedridden, he would still be drinking his morning coffee half/half with vodka. He doesn’t drink because he is unable to get it himself. He is sober because he has no choice.

What is being truly sober anyway? I don’t believe it is just about having alcohol in your system. I think being sober is a state of mind. You can be sober and still be a son-of-a-gun. After all sometimes a jerk is simply a jerk with or without alcohol. I’ve known people who are complete assholes and didn’t drink at all.

Sobriety comes from a place deep inside our being. To be sober means to try to have the best possible life for yourself without damaging those around you. It’s looking at life in a positive direction rather than grumbling about the negative. It’s being a peace with your self. Being sober means being able to say “I’m sorry” and meaning it completely. If you are simply not drinking and still have the mindset of an active alcoholic – you are not sober.

Riley is simply not drinking. He is not sober. He hates being sober and takes advantage of every opportunity to tell him how unfair I’m being because I won’t buy him any booze. Miss Vodka still lives in our house even though she doesn’t show herself – that is except in Riley’s mind.

In Riley’s room, in Riley’s bed, there lives a man who once wrote award-winning technical manuals; a person who did the “hard” level of New York Times Crossword puzzles; someone who I could never beat at Scrabble; a quietly soft spoken man; a man I knew as being gentle and kind. Miss Vodka took him a way and left in his place a sullen, angry, over-bearing, demanding jerk. What is left is a man who can’t understand what is happening to him or how he got in this condition. He blames me for his being sick because if I would just get him some Vodka, he would be fine.

I feel bad because he is in pain at this moment. I know and understand that he is dying, but I don’t want him to be in so much pain. I wouldn’t want that for any person, alcohol or not. The morphine isn’t doing its job. I’m not sure what I am supposed to do. The nurse will report back to the doctors at the hospice agency. I think I’m supposed to wait.

Waiting is not my strong suit. Today I’ll call the hospice office and tell them that we can’t go through the weekend without some relief for Riley. I will insist on finding out if the pain is related to his cancer or liver, or if it is something that can be treated – like a kidney stone. I will display a side of me that is NOT in anyway sober. Imagine that! A non-drinker displaying a non-sober attitude. Sometimes the lack of sobriety is a useful thing.

There was no moon last night. It was overcast and the moon was probably hiding in the clouds. Maybe it just didn’t want to tempt me to steal her magic powers.    

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Longing for the good old days

I watched Riley check out what was on his dinner plate. I said each item aloud. But there was not a glimmer of recognition of what this plate represented. Back in the day – before there was a baby and before Miss Vodka encroached upon our lives – we were just a struggling couple trying to make ends meet. When Riley landed a new job with a great salary, I wanted to celebrate by fixing him a special dinner. I only had a couple of dollars in my pocket so I got creative.

A while back, our neighbor had given us a can of pink salmon because she had no idea what it was or how to prepare it. I gladly took the can and knew exactly what it would become. I check the panty and found some saltines, green onions and the usual seasonings. I had everything I needed to create Salmon Patties.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Crazy vs UTI

Yes, they are crazy when they are filled to the brim with toxic liquid. But, if you notice your alcoholic person to be a bit more crazy than usual, there may be an additional cause. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) can also be the cause of crazy.

Most UTIs are caused from a bacterial infection called Escherichia coli (E.coli) which makes it’s home in the bowels. They are more common in women than in men. Symptoms include frequent and intense urgency to urinate with a painful, burning feeling. The condition is resolved with a course of antibiotics.

Well – that sounds simple enough. And it is simple for the normal healthy person. But when dealing with a person with a compromised immune system and already in a weakened physical state, it’s a bit more complicated.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I promise you can trust me

I grew up in a family where trust was not an issue. I trusted almost everyone in my family to a point where I could be classified as gullible. It just never dawned on me that people close to me would lie to me or hurt me in any way. I came from a loving, trusting home and I saw no reason not to extend that trust to the outside world.

Of course, all that trust meant I was an easy target in the school yard. Promises were often broken and as well as my heart. But, hey, it was the school yard and childhood isn’t often as carefree and wonderful as it would seem. Kids are cruel. They don’t really mean to be, it’s just that all the filters have not developed yet and there is no self-control.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The neighbors are talking...

First off, to those of you who wrote and sent condolences to Carrot – It was NOT her son who died. However, she appreciates all your encouraging thoughts and prayers.

“What you think of me is none of my business.” As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you that I never had time to think much about what the neighbors were thinking. I felt that people who spent time gossiping about me or my family had way too much time on their hands.

When my son, Brian, died an alcohol-related death, it took me years to be able to say out loud that he was an alcoholic. I also could not vocalize his name. I would say it over and over in my head, but I didn’t want to hear his name come out of my mouth. When my grandson was born and was named after his uncle, I could only say “Baby Brian” but never just “Brian”. My grandson is six years old and he still lives with “Baby Brian.”

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One last thing...

On June 9th, 2014, I posted a video about what to do if you have a child who is an alcoholic. My point was that parents must do everything they can and then do just one more thing. You can find the video here: 

Yesterday, my heart sister (a woman so close to me that in my heart she is truly my sister), did one more thing for her son. It was one of the most unpleasant things she has ever done.

Early in 1991, a boy baby was born to this couple who had tried desperately to begin a family. I was there when she was told she was actually pregnant. I was one of the second to know (the first being the expectant father) that the fetus was viable and she would carry to full term. However, I could not be there when this sweet boy made his debut on earth. My father was ill and I had to move 3,000 miles away.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stress -- A ticket to an ER Resort

Off and on over the past year, I’ve had intestinal issues. I would get sick for a day and then get better. Once I felt more “normal” I would simply forget about the brief encounter with an uncomfortable tummy and go about my caretaking duties.

A couple of Sundays ago, I woke up in such pain that I could hardly move around. I couldn’t possibly take care of Riley because I couldn’t even stand up. I called hospice to see about getting some help and they immediately found a bed for him in a nursing home. I thought I would just rest and go with the sickness to let it work itself out. After all, I thought, it is probably just a flu bug going around. I spent that Sunday on the sofa with a barf bag and the porta potty close by.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hi, Can I help you?

The below post was a written by a young lady (21 years of age) when asked to write about a life incident for her English class. This is a wonderful description of a child of an alcoholic father. Even children raised in a single parent home without alcohol, eventually want to know the reason they had a missing parent. And, eventually, that missing parent will have to atone for his/her actions or lack of actions.

Thank you, Mary Grace for this posting!

"Hi, Can I Help You?"

It was so dark and cold. I couldn't stop counting the drops that hit my windshield. 7,8,9,10,11....constantly missing one, I would restart counting. I didn't want to focus on anything else while on my way to see him. Counting the drops helped keep my head calm. Although, it also helped me nearly get into a car crash. I should pay more attention at what's in front of me. Like the whole slew of cars during this bitch of a rainstorm. Nearly four years it was since I last saw him. Four years since I had last saw his boney frame and unchanged, soiled clothing. Four years since I thought this world was just compiled of shit and dirt. And four years since I couldn't wait for him to be taken away, to see what life is like without him.
Maybe he had changed or maybe he was still drinking away the tiniest bit of man he had left. Hoping he would remain the drunk he always was, I pulled up to the house he supposedly was squatting in. Remembering the address I read on the restraining order documents, I couldn't stop repeating the numbers to myself. Stomach twisted, I walked up to the house. I looked at what, essentially, resembled who and what my dad was. A mangy, dirty, and neglected structure. Hesitantly knocking on "his" door, I found nor heard my dad or anyone for that matter. Panic had set in. I felt pissed off. Those feelings were not foreign when dealing with this man. Of course he wasn't at this house. Of Course He Wasn't There. He never was, why would he be now!
I heard a voice from across the street, my father's neighbor. I instantly felt a need to apologize to this man for witnessing any scenes my father may have caused.
" You looking for Mike? Who the fuck might you be?" Impressed by how eloquently this sloppy 5 foot man spoke to me, I responded, "I'm an old friend, is he here or not? Is he even alive?" Continuing to address me in a lazy but non-welcoming manner, he mentioned how "terrible" and "disgusting" Mike's daughters and wife were. He proceeded to say "they abandoned that poor man and I helped get his life back." I'm not sure what irked me more, hearing him utter the words "poor man" or "abandoned." I no longer saw a sloppy, 5 foot man. I saw a cockroach. A cockroach who wanted a pat on the back for enabling another cockroach. I saw a cockroach who wanted recognition to distract from the inevitable trauma he caused in his life. However, this cockroach spewed one piece of significant information, my father's current address.
Anxiously getting back in my car, I thought to get out and smash that cockroach. I wasn't anxious because I feared that man. I wasn't scared. My anxiety was caused by the comforting thought of me smashing his face in.
Perhaps, there was one thing I was terrified of-- the possibility of my father's sobriety and finally obtaining an honest heart.
Creeping down his street slowly, I looked at the house numbers. I wasn't sure what to do now. I couldn't believe I would see him after this long.
Screaming, crying, and violently attacking him was one option.
Screaming, crying, and hugging him was another.
Or maybe I could just scream, cry, turn around and never entertain this field trip again.
My nerves had consumed me. I was a goner. I was not strong.
I finally arrived.
Let's get out. This is what you drove nearly an hour to do. Just do it.
Almost forgetting I brought my family dog for the trip, I kissed his head and sighed. I couldn't say why I brought him. Maybe I wanted to comfort my dad with seeing a part of what he used to have. Or possibly I brought him for my sake.
I remember feeling so isolated from the real world. I remember the feeling of discomfort when walking up to knock on his door.
I had lost myself in thought while knocking. All the possibilities racing through my head. Knuckles sore from knocking so much, I finally heard foot steps.
A young woman and her mother had answered the door.
I am dead.
He replaced us. We weren't good for him. He found something better. Fucking asshole, I hate you.
"Hi...uh....can I help you?" the young woman had confusingly spoken. Equally confused, I replied with, "Hi, I'm sorry, but does a 'Michael H***' live here?"
She made a face. A certain face. A very, very familiar face. She seemed embarrassed to say he was with them. She sent a vibe.
He was a burden for them.
The mother or daughter didn't have a close relationship with him. He wasn't a father nor someone's significant other. Michael P. H*** was a burden for these two.
As the two women walked away to get him, I tightened my jaw and stood tall.
Fuck. I hear his voice. He sounds so brittle and weathered.
Smiling from ear to ear, he welcomed me, " Hi, can I help you? I'm not sure who you are..."
Once again, I am dead.
I felt sick to my stomach. " Dad, it's me, Mary Grace...I'm your daughter"
His face went white. For once, he had made an appropriate expression and felt some emotion. I was a ghost from his past. He grabbed my arms gently and looked at my face for a while.
I felt his eyes and brain scanning me.
My dad never wanted to be a part of our lives. True love from a paternal figure was never shown to me or my sisters. He stayed in the garage, smoking and drinking, while we were awarded MVP for a school sport.
He stayed in the garage missing our talent and growth while complete strangers witnessed it.
My father, Michael P H***, was never meant for this life he abandoned so long ago. I love Michael P H*** for the person he was supposed to be. That is the extent of that.
I will never have a father. But I also will never be a size 0 in jeans. It will never be easy, I know this. But I have my whole life to accept and welcome that feeling. I have my whole life to share that feeling with people who have shown me true love. To those people: I love you.

Alcoholics as parents

Linda’s Place Recovery Center has been moved to the back burner for now. Due to time constraints, I was unable to market the campaign as it needed to be done. I also need to find an assistant who will eventually take my place as the leader when I can no longer do so. If anyone is interested in a volunteer position as my assistant, please contact me.

On to other things…

I received a comment from Anonymous that needs some clarification. I always hesitate to respond to comments that are anonymous especially when they clearly indicate that they have not read my book or very many of the blog postings.

My kids “went along like nothing happened” is misleading. They simply lived their life and did not let their father interfere with their friendships or many of their activities. They didn’t put their head in the sand and say --- “OH NO! Not MY father!” They were aware and we had many discussions about alcoholism.

Their father was not violent, mean or abusive towards them. The worst abusive thing he was is just to be absent – physically and emotionally. Due to being a submarine sailor, he was gone to sea more than 50% of the time. I lived my life and raised my kids as though I was a single mom even when Riley was present. It’s what worked for me.

My kids faced the same ordeals as any other young person during that time period. Just like any other kid, they had to make choices and sometimes they made the wrong ones. But, again just like other kids, they learned from their mistakes.

Brian was a 40-year old man when he began abusing alcohol. By the time he turned 44 he was dead. Yes, I believe there were circumstances that led to the alcoholism. I believe he had some “internal turmoil” but it was not due to his childhood. I, as well as the entire family, know where and when the turmoil started. I will not share those details here on this blog.

Alcohol is not an issue for my daughter. It’s simple, she doesn’t drink in excess. She doesn’t associate with people who abuse alcohol. She has no space for alcohol or alcoholism in her life. I stand up and applaud my daughter for her chosen direction.

Do I wish she would take over for me if I need her to help out with any of my projects? Absolutely NOT. Of course it would be nice, but I’m glad she has no need, no interest, and no desire to stand on the same soap box as me. It means she is not alcohol involved. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

In my opinion most people live with the idea that ALL alcoholics are terrible parents from the very beginning. I’m not an ALL or NOTHING kind of person. Usually alcoholism is a gradual disease and doesn’t immediately take away the ability to parent properly. Parenting skills will gradually diminish as the alcoholism continues to take its course. It’s up to the non-drinking parent to monitor and scrutinize the ability of the drinking parent. It’s up the non-drinking parent to determine how much parenting the alcoholic can manage without hurting the kids. It’s the responsibility of the non-drinking parent to remove the children from the presence of an abusive parent – alcoholic or not.

We are not all fortunate to have the funds to simply walk away on a moment’s notice. It takes planning and saving and preparing for the day that it will become a necessity. Some people never even start to prepare because they do not believe that day will ever come. Often these bright-eyed, cheery, optimists end up in desperate situations.

Here’s the point – I think.

If you are married to an alcoholic and have children, live like a single parent. Do not expect anything from your alcoholic and you will not be disappointed. Plan and do things on your own with the kids. If the alcoholic chooses to participate, be aware of his mental status before including him or her. Monitor the atmosphere between the alcoholic and the kids. Listen to your gut – it’s usually right.