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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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Half past Christmas...

I would love to have Christmas at my house. It would be great if everyone came here Christmas Eve, decorate the tree, wake up early Christmas morning and open all the gifts. Follow that with Christmas dinner and then everyone napping to store up energy for the long drive home.

But, Christmas at Alea’s is very pleasant. Ryan and his lady are in an awkward position of having to spread their time thinly across several families. So, Alea’s house is last because that’s where they want to eat their final of several dinners on Christmas evening. Because there are so many families to consider and I live two hours away – Christmas at my house is just not something that is likely to happen.

It’s OK. I treasure the Christmas time that I spend with the family.

Riley did very well at our friend’s annual Christmas Eve celebration. He stood next to the bar and close to the food while he watched what was going on around him. I don’t know if he had anything from the bar, but if he did – it wasn’t noticeable. He engaged in conversations and appeared to be enjoying himself. I’m not really sure if he did. It’s hard to tell sometimes if he is just “putting up” with a situation or truly being a part of the action.

I watched him Christmas day. I watched as he leaned up against the kitchen sink, coffee cup in hand, and I listened to his silence. He looked into the cup and then up to the ceiling. I wondered what he was thinking about with such intent concentration. I knew if I asked he would simply say, “Nothing.” I knew he would keep the mystery to himself.

I wondered if he was thinking about his own childhood Christmas’s. I wondered if he had his own Red Ryder Rifle story that he would like to share. I wondered what Christmas was like at his house. I wondered if he was feeling something.

But, then I wondered if he was bored and was just didn’t want to be there with us – the people who cared enough about him to keep him alive. I wondered. And then I became irritated. I know he feels no gratitude for the people who have handed his life back to him.

Watching him, I recalled a conversation we had just prior to leaving our house to go to Alea’s. He reiterated to me that he didn’t want to hear again how he had been “pulled from the brink” and that if he kept hearing it he was going to do something about it. He informed me that he didn’t know if that was what really had happened. He didn’t really believe he was going to die and doesn’t like anyone saying that he was. He said he didn’t know and my saying it was just my saying it and I’m not the authority.

Remember the saying that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it? Nothing is more true to the alcoholic brain. There is also a saying about time heals all wounds. That also is true for the alcoholic. One of the huge facts of detox is that the alcoholic will probably not remember the pain and suffering and as time goes by his vision of the devastation to everyone around him will grow dim. It will seem less and less a problem and will eventually get to the point where he won’t think it is a problem at all.

All of us non-alcoholics would like to think that the realization that the alcoholic’s life was near it’s end, the days in the hospital, the tears shed by their loved ones, the horror of the past behavior, would be acutely engraved in the fore-front of the alcoholic’s brain. We want to believe these things can be the skid-stop strips down the slippery slope of the booze covered hill. But, alas, it is not. The alcoholic will forget or the memory will dim. And the feeling conveyed will eventually be… “that wasn’t so bad, now was it.”

Riley’s memories are fading and being replaced with the memories of the good-old days of beer, wine and vodka. He will be searching for that group of people who accept him as the alcoholic he is. Those are the people he wants to hold conversations with. Those are the people who will steal his love (and his money) from the people who truly care about him. Those are the people who will turn their backs when he gets sick.

There is a sad fact for alcoholics. We non-alcoholics don’t understand them. It’s like living in the same house, but in two different worlds. For me, I must remember my prime objective and keep my focus. There is nothing I can do about it. It’s just the way it is. If I don’t keep focused my anger is going to over-rule my common sense and then, well… I don’t know what I’ll do, but I know it won’t be pretty.

We are home now and having driven through a snow storm and risking the drive on slippery, snowy roads – I’m grateful to be here. I’m grateful for my wonderful son-in-law who does his best to keep us safe. I’m grateful to have a warm loving house to stay in over the holidays. I’m grateful to be able to spend time with the people who are most important in my life. I’m grateful to be able to feel gratitude.


Anonymous said...

The insanity of alcoholism is the most painful situation I have ever lived with. I wish I had never met him.

Suzanne said...

Detachment with love, and boundaries. Those were my tools for living with an alcoholic husband. I read that you do not attend Alanon. Alanon's support and principles were the only way I was able to live with my alcoholic and, yes, even find serenity. My alcoholic died from his disease three years ago. You will be in my prayers.

Syd said...

I agree with Suzanne about Al-Anon. It got the focus off the alcoholic and on me so that I could work on my own happiness. It is a great program, Linda.

Anonymous said...

The pain the alcholic has caused my son an I seems to be nothing at all to him or his alcholic father. Some how it feels we are less in life and the 2 alcoholic s are everything of great importance. They destroy children and laugh in the face of everyones pain. I feel sorry for them and know they hurt beyond what we can imagine. Just wish they would stop!!! That's all just stop hurting everyone else!