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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, May 30, 2011

I feel good...

The store room is all clean and neatly organized!! YEAH!! Riley was very helpful. He made many walks out to the shed. It got very hot yesterday and I was about to tell him to wait until sundown to finish the storage room stuff, but when I looked it was all done!! I am thankful and grateful (do those words mean the same thing?) that the chore is complete and I can move on to finishing my office / sewing / crafts area. Riley can't help me with that.

I've had several e-mails about how cruel it was for me to put the garbage in my son's bed. I think I better explain before someone calls Child Protective Services. Having a social worker show up to check things out would be interesting since I no longer have children in my household.

I simply put the can on top of Brian’s (my son) bed. I did not dump the garbage out. It was a reminder that made an impression. My son was 16 years old -- old enough to be expected to remember the he had this one thing to do once a week. He had three responsibilities -- school, lawn and garbage. That's not too much for a 16 year old to handle.

Brian was a very good kid. I never had a lot of drama with him. He liked things simple and quiet and tended toward living his life in that manner. Ohhh... there were problems... but they were far and few between compared to his sister, Alea. When Brian had a problem it was a big one -- I remember only three in his entire childhood.

While Brian liked things simple, Alea seemed to complicate the simplest things. She preferred chaos to tranquility. Her problems tended to be little ones that were repeated over and over again. She had difficulty learning from her mistakes.

Two completely opposite personalities… both originated in my womb. Sometimes I was sure the hospital had given me the wrong baby. And I always said that if I had had Alea first, there never would have been a Brian.

But there was a Brian and I loved him very much. He died from alcoholism when he was 41 years old. There is so much controversy over why alcoholics become alcoholics..... is it nature or nurture? I don't know. But one thing I do know... Brian did not become an alcoholic because I was a strong disciplinarian.  Alea had the same type of discipline as Brian and she doesn’t have any desire to drink.

Now that I’ve cleared that up… if you hated my punishment for Brian’s garbage duty forgetfulness, you’ll really be sending me hate mail when I tell you what I did in response to discovering that Alea had been smoking.

Alea was 15 when I discovered she was smoking in her bedroom. I was livid. She grew up in a smoke-free house. I touted the dangers of smoking from the time both of my kids could understand my words. So… I told her that if I caught her smoking in her room again… there would be repercussions. I couldn’t control what she did outside our property, but I damn well would make every attempt to make it difficult for her to continue that disgusting habit.

Of course the inevitable happened. I went into her room to change her sheets and there was an ashtray sitting next to her bed. I went into action. I called a friend who owned a bar and asked him to dump the contents of all the ashtrays into a plastic bag and save them for me. (That was back when you could smoke in places like bars and restaurants).  I went to the hardware store and bought sheets of plastic. Three days later, I picked up the bag of ashtray stuff from my friend. It was a large kitchen size bag filled to the top.

After Alea left for school, I went in and moved her mattress out of her room. (She had a twin bed, so that was easy.) I covered the entire room with the plastic sheeting. Every inch was covered. I closed the central air vents and closed the windows. I dumped the ashtray junk all over her room. It literally covered the floors. Then, just before I knew she would arrive home, I went in and set out a bunch of ashtrays with lit cigarettes. (I was careful that they would not start a fire.) The room became hazy with smoke. I shut the door and waited.

Alea arrived just about 10 minutes after I had lit the cancer sticks. She went straight to her room and the next thing I heard was “Aaahhh!!!! Mom!!!!” After the shock wore off, there was silence. She set about cleaning up the mess and airing out the room. We never spoke about the punishment. There was no need for conversation.

Alea still smokes – much to my dismay – but she has never since smoked in my house or even her own.

I suppose you would say I had an unconventional way of discipline. But, it was my experience that the normal “grounding” and “restricting” never really made much of an impression on my kids. This was before cell phones and computers, so I couldn’t take them away. I always got more compliance when I hit them with an unexpected consequence at an unpredicted time.

As fiercely as I disciplined, I also protected, enjoyed, and loved my two beautiful children. Life couldn’t have been all that bad in our house because my kids’ friends were always there. I loved all of my extra-kids... and I still do. I am still MommaLinda to at least five children who are not blood-related. I am so very blessed to have them.

I count my blessings every time I think of what life could have been like if my alcoholic husband had actually been present more often. Since he was a sailor he was gone 60% of the time and the other 40% was taken up with his mistresses and drinking buddies. Riley was never violent… when he was drunk he was just mentally absent. I am grateful for that.

Looks like I have a lot of gratitude and thankfulness today. Can you see this happy smile? I wish all my readers could feel as good as I do today.


Syd said...

Sometimes extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary actions. Glad that you and Riley worked it out together yesterday.

Jennifer said...

Your writing is a refreshing dose of real, honest, wonderful womaning. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Alea still smokes.

Anonymous said...

But not in the house. READ people!