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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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas 1992...

This is a continuation of my orginal post from last year. My readers who have been with me from the start will recognize this post. I'm reposting because I believe they show the extreme contrast between a non-alcoholic holiday and then one where alcohol has taken over completely.

Ghosts of seasons past…


Both Brian and Alea have become adults and have moved into their own homes to start their own lives. That year, Brian was off in Hong Kong working for a company that sent him around the world. His current assignment would last five years. He wasn’t crazy about the country, but he met a young lady that he was hoping would return to the United States with him.

Alea was now a single mom. She worked hard and barely made ends meet. She shared an apartment with a childhood friend and it seemed to be working as well as most roommate relationships went. She received no child support from Ryan’s father. She was stubborn, independent and determined to do it all on her own. That is – unless her independence meant Ryan would not have something important.

Christmas was important. Alea had money for the necessities, but that didn’t include big Santa gifts or even a Christmas tree.  Much like her parents in 1972, she was a young family on a very strict budget.

Riley had moved out of our home and was sharing a house with another couple who drank as actively and alcoholicly as he did. It was a bad environment and Alea would not allow Ryan to be a part of that particular home scene. That didn’t seem to matter much to Riley. He didn’t have time for his family. He had a girlfriend – who was married to someone else – and he had his roommates. They shared common interests – alcohol and sex. It was no place for a 3 year old.

Alea invited Riley to her home often. She still wanted that Daddy with the handlebar moustache, but he was long gone. Whenever Riley knew there would be young female friends visiting Alea, he always showed up. He would focus his attention on the young women. They teased him and tolerated him. When his passes were turned down often enough, he would be off again to someplace else that held more sexual possibilities.

I didn’t have a lot of money. I was barely making ends meet and that was even working two jobs. Riley was retired and had his retirement pay – and he made it clear it was his. We had lost our home to foreclosure and our two new cars had been repo’d. I had a small apartment and was trying to keep my head above water.

I had managed to get a new car and gave the older one to Alea. It was to be part of her Christmas present. I bought the Christmas tree, stocking stuffers and the food for Christmas dinner – which was to be held at Alea’s. I also managed to buy Ryan some clothes to be used as gifts. And I had a heart to heart talk with Riley. I asked him what he planned to give Ryan. He said he would get whatever I thought was best. I told him toys. We needed to get him a Santa gift and some other toys. I told him to plan to spend about $100. I told him not to worry about Alea, all she wanted for Christmas was for Ryan to have a great day.

Two days before Christmas, I called Riley and asked if he wanted me to wrap any of Ryan’s gifts. He said he would bring them over. When asked what he got for him, he rattled off different toys. I thought, oh, that’s nice. He really listened to me. But, the next day – Christmas Eve – when I called again about the gifts, he told me he didn’t have any. He said someone had taken them out of the truck. And he didn’t have any money to buy any gifts.

His past behavior was always to present the image that he was thoughtful, caring, responsible and the rest of the world was all ridiculous. In my heart, I know there had never been any gifts bought. I knew he had other plans for his money. I knew he needed to buy gifts for his girlfriend and roommates and their families. His real family didn’t stand a chance.

But, Ryan had a wonderful Christmas morning because Alea’s friends pulled together and they bought him several great gifts. Several of my friends also chipped in. The little guy was happy. He played and played and Alea and I watched him with tears in our eyes. We had the best gift ever. We had Ryan.

Riley showed up for dinner and Alea was cordial. He brought with him a box of candy for me and a box for Alea. He had nothing for Ryan. He left very early – right after dinner – because he said he had other gifts to deliver.

I don’t know what happened to the man I spent Christmas with in 1972. The alcohol pod people must have taken him while he was passed out after a stupor. As much as I had loved him in 1972, I hated him in 1992.


Anonymous said...

Ive spent the last few years trying to make 2 rights equal 1 wrong but they just dont. The big alcoholic wrongs always outweigh at least 5 rights. All the good memories im trying to cling to now are unfortunatly clouded.

Syd said...

At this point, with his desertion of you, did you consider divorce? I was actually walking out the door because I could not take any more. And my wife was not a low bottom drunk. Alcoholism just made it so difficult for me to feel much of anything. At that point, I had reached my own bottom.

The self-centeredness of alcoholism is something that I have difficulty comprehending. I realize that alcohol becomes the most important thing to an alcoholic. Yet, I still am struck by how powerful the disease is. And how it takes a decent person and twists them into someone that I don't recognize. Cunning, baffling and powerful.

Linda (The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife) said...

Syd -- After spending more than 20 years, I wasn't about to give up my military benefits. Which has proven to be a wise decision because it covered me when I was without health insurance. I doubt I will ever want to get married again. If marriage had been an issue in a relationship and I wanted to get married -- I would have gotten a divorce.

jo said...

Syd has it right. addiction is completely self centered, above even the persons life . it has a soul all its own, which is why i call it a demon. far more than a disease, it occupies a persons body and mind. it is all about one thing, to achieve the drug.

i relate to anonymous,...i am not sure i can do the detach and forgive enough any more. and if we dont allow the addiction it have its way, it shows us what hate can be. pity.,sadness, and real hate. i dont like that in myself.

in lindas post i saw expectations. the same ones we all have...the near impossible acceptance of the reality of addiction and what a addict becomes. i cant even conceive of this...much less accept it as ok. my family, my grandkids and kids, the world itself is so important to me, i can not imagine how it feels to give that up for a substance that only will kill you and hurt others.

give up real things, real love and happiness for a bottle or a needle or a pipe? huh? not only give them up but send out such hate and pain? for WHAT? amazing.