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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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Panther in the woods...

Last week, Alea, my daughter and her friend went to the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter. They weren’t looking to adopt but they just wanted to visit with the animals and see the facility.  A kind-hearted attendant gave them a tour of the facility and explained the purpose of each separated area.

When she returned home she told me that she could not ever do that again. She had been thinking about volunteering, but after the tour she realized that she just wanted to take all the animals home and give them a good life. Besides there just wasn’t any room in her schedule for much of anything other than work and taking care of home stuff.

I asked her what she liked the most about the shelter. Her response was that she liked the part for the unusual animals. Her favorite animal was the panther. We couldn’t imagine anyone taking a panther as a kitten and trying to raise it as a domesticated animal. Panthers should be free to do what panthers do.

Behind and to the side of our house is all dark, dense woods. I know we have coyotes, raccoons, possums, deer, wild turkeys and many other types of creatures. I wondered if there was an exotic animal in the mix.

Maybe there are panthers in the woods. Maybe they are hiding and won’t come out unless there is a potential dinner in the yard. Lurking. Maybe they are lurking… waiting… watching…

Thinking about that Panther reminded me of the old saying “the elephant in the room.” If an elephant can sit in a room, then is it not possible for a panther to be lurking in the woods. In fact if we think that the panther is alcohol, then is seems reasonable for it to be in the woods – waiting for an opportune moment to strike out and make someone miserable.

Living with an alcoholic is like waiting for the other shoe to drop or working around the elephant in the room and now – waiting for the lurking panther to pounce. It seems those of us trying to keep things in running order get our agendas thrown out the window by the shoes, elephants and panthers who drop, sit or pounce in and make chaos out of our order.

I do not believe there is any way to capture the panther and prevent him from scratching up whatever current sanity there is available. It is the nature of the panther to scratch, hiss, fight, chew, and literally tear apart any living thing within their distance. It is the nature of alcohol to destroy a human’s access to reason, logic, or morals and this in turn inhibits the ability to be rational or logical.

When or if the panther can be convinced to stay in the woods and out of the reach of innocent humans, I think that is the best place for him. Personally, I don’t want shoes, elephants or panthers to destroy my peace and quiet. Years ago that would not have been possible. But now that Riley cannot get to alcohol and cannot find anyone to get it for him, all of my panthers, elephants, shoes and anything else that runs amuck in my vicinity is safely under control.

The unfortunate thing is that it took Riley having a heart attack, strokes and now end-stage liver failure before he stopped drinking. And, mind you, he did not stop voluntarily. He stopped because he had no access. He stopped because I refused to go against doctor’s orders and give him booze. Stopping was not his choice and if given the opportunity he would start drinking immediately if he could. It is his misfortune that he has me as a caregiver. He would be happier with someone else who would slip him a beer now and then.

There has been some talk of rationing him some alcohol during the day. He IS a dying man (I think, he may truly be immortal) and even dying men get a last wish. But, he’s not that far gone yet and I fear that his immortality will only strengthen if I lower my resolve. It’s early yet in his hospice status – I’ll wait and see what happens over the next few months.


In the main time the panther in my woods is safely locked out.

3 comments:

Joanie said...

My heart and love to you. Thank you for sharing your stories! Glad I found your blog.

Amy said...

I adore this post. I found your blog via internet search and I am so glad I did. Thank you for sharing your life and stories!

Sober Coach Dave said...

Great Post! Being an alcoholic, I can relate. The Panther analogy is excellent. Alcoholics, generally speaking, are never safe. Ongoing support is needed, and it never ends! Sober Coach Dave.