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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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Young and Restless

I’ve been watching the Young and the Restless ever since it’s very first episode back in March of 1973. The only reason I watched it was because my best friend was at my house and she was a big soap opera fan.  Not me. I had two small children and felt that I didn’t have time for such a frivolous thing as sitting down to my TV everyday at a particular time.

In spite of that, I found myself getting to know the Brooks and Foster families and all the intertwined drama they produced. I started feeding my kids lunch just a little earlier and putting them down for naps just before the program started. That way I could watch without interruption. I was hooked. I could feel myself becoming a part of this Genoa City community.

Katherine Chancellor was introduced into Young and Restless in November 1973 as a wealthy alcoholic socialite. It was the first of what would be a long-standing exposure as to the effects alcohol can have on a person’s life. The producers have continued throughout the years to increase awareness of how alcoholism can ruin a person’s life.

I applaud the writers and producers of this show for their continuing efforts. However, I feel an entire segment of Genoa City’s population has been overlooked.  That is the effect of alcoholism on those who love the alcoholic. Here is a perfect venue to make the invisible collateral damage less invisible and they have dropped the ball.

Of course, a soap opera is not a soap opera without dysfunctional families and Genoa City has more than their fair share. Top of the mark would be the Newman family with the alcoholic mother married to a man who seems to constantly confuse his children with business co-workers. Maybe if Victor were less inclined to fix all problems with buying solutions and pay more personal attention, the family would have more of a chance to find peace. While Victor and the kids all say they are worried about Nicky’s drinking, I see them covering up and lying in order to protect her from herself.

Then we have the perfect candidate for showing how the family is affected when we look at the Winters’ family. Neal’s daughter babies him and protects him like he was her child instead of her father. Yet, I have yet to see anyone take Lily aside and explain to her that her father’s alcoholism belongs to him and he must be the one who does something about it. There are ways she can help him, but she cannot take his alcoholism away. Lily tries to find reasons for her father’s drinking and if she can solve the “reason” she can solve the problem. I would say to Lily, “Your father drinks because he is an alcoholic and that’s what alcoholics do.” I would tell her that to believe anything else is just giving him an excuse to drink.

The family dynamics in the circle of an alcoholic are not clearly depicted in the alcoholism story lines of the show. There is an opportunity for the writers to establish one with the creation of Jack and Neal’s newly founded association for addicted persons. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out.

Also, we have yet to see (unless I missed it during those years when I was without DVR and working) an alcoholic become end-stage. An end-stage story line would help so many people who are struggling with alcohol. It would help many family members know what is ahead of them. Of course, actually viewing what end-stage is really like may not be appealing to the masses. Maybe the masses could use a little eye-opening.


Christina Joiner said...

I so agree Linda!! People see the "fun" side, but they need to see the end result.

JBthatsme said...

Hi Linda & fellow readers, I've never watched the young and the restless, although I have referred to it as the young and the stressless. Had I known of any sort of alcoholic / addict storyline, I might have tuned in or recorded it. But likely I would've found the same frustrations as you, it's not real enough. And we'll the show doesn't depict the end stage and other horrors, it can't be any worse than the alcohol commercials that show one big party. I think the reality is that reality might just be too real for tv, that's why they have all those faux reality shows like the Bachelor and such. Because realistically we all party at a big fancy house fighting over a suitor like he's the only man on earth. On another note, I've gotten into your book, and it's hard to put down. Any readers who haven't already read Linda's book "the immortal alcoholics wife", I strongly recommend. I got mine off amazon. Thanks Linda.

Linda -- The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Thanks JBthatsme -- I agree that end-stage alcoholism may be too much reality for daytime watchers. When Katherine Chancellor was first introduced, Jill Foster was hired to attend to her hair and nails. She morphed into a bit of a caretaker and clearly depicted the frustration connected with caring for an alcoholic especially since Katherine was still somewhat functional. There was a thin line between love and hate with those two and I think all of us feel that when dealing with the alcoholic in our lives.

Also thanks for the book plug. I'm glad you are enjoying it. I've started working on part two which will focus on Riley's childhood and life experiences. However, he's not very open about all that and I'm really having to dig to get him to open up.

JBthatsme said...

Hi Linda, I really am enjoying the book, it helps remind me that im not alone (although our lives are different, we all have our battles).Glad to hear that you're working on another one. I don't know where you find the time. I appreciate the reply, two of the things that have really resonated with me, things I hear and feel, that I wanted to bring up and remind you that I read in your book (so far), because I know that it's so difficult to not feel guilty about things, whether they're are fault or not. You said "He has been saved so many times, from a path of his own choosing, which complicates the lives of everyone around him". And "the family was left in shock, as the process was repeated over and over again". As I've mentioned I feel immensely guilty for all the fighting I did with my dad. Despite the fact that I was up against a disease, I hated the fact that he couldn't put that bottle down, that years ago he stopped, then started then stopped then started, for long periods of time. Why did he think it was ok to pick up that poisonous bottle again, why do any of them. Why risk it? Linda I can't believe the strength you have, it's inspiring, and I hope you're able to make Linda's place a reality, not just to fulfill your dream, but because it would help so many people. Thanks for the book, however you find the time. I find many "jems" in it.

Trisha E. said...

Linda-Are you and Sandy James still planning on speaking engagements? Do you know why her blog is no longer up? I've always followed yours and her and Addy's and After the Fire, but it seems hers has disappeared recently.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was wondering too. I enjoyed Sandy's blog as well. Can you give us an update?

Linda -- The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

To answer your questions about Sandy's blog -- send me an e-mail and I'll forward it to her so she can answer your questions herself.

JBthatsme said...

Hi Linda, I just finished your book. I am hoping you write another, where this one left off. I wondered about when you finished this book, when those things were going on (I have no idea how long it takes to publish ect). Also I wondered who Lucy is? Maybe I misunderstood, but when I was reading about Rileys kids and how they never came to live with you guys (page 156) "he discussed it with Lucy and decided not to make any attempts to get custody"? Maybe it's a typo and was meant to say Laura? Just wondering. Thank you for this book, I can't tell you how comforting it has been, to know I'm not the only one who went thru such a mess of living the alcoholism rollercoaster. Wishing you many blessings. And I hope you write another book from where the first one leaves off, as well as Rileys life, and would also be interested in your daughter Aleas perspective, did she know or understand as a child about addiction? When I was very little I knew alcohol was bad, and when I would see it at my friends houses I always thought uh oh their parents have a problem. So I'm curious what your kids thought growing up. Thanks Linda

Linda -- The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

JBthatsme -- When the question came up about whether or not Riley should try to get custody of his boys, he discussed it with Laura (the mother of the boys). You are right it was a typo. In the end, I feel it was a mistake to not try to get custody and the boys suffered for it. I can never say enough how sorry I am for not trying to get Riley to change his mind.

There will be another book. It will be more difficult to write because it will be more about Riley's perspective rather than mine. He has a hard time talking (remembering) his childhood. There was nothing sinister there, but he doesn't really like talking about it. He has just recently started opening up about his Navy life on board ship. So it may be a while for that book to actually get written. Also, I wanted the second book to end with his death, but he does seem to be immortal.

As you know, my son died via alcohol. Alea has never really recovered from that loss. She does drink but not to excess. She does NOT want nor does she have anything to do with any of my work concerning alcoholism. She would rather I just retire and crochet afghans in my rocking chair.

When the kids were children, they knew their father was an alcoholic. They loved him completely and unconditionally. Whenever Riley did something that affected them, they just went on like nothing happened. Brian was my quiet one and he leaned on me more and more when things went wrong. Alea sided with her father -- always. She covered for him, took the blame for things he had done. As far as their friends were concerned, they seldom talked about their friends parents.

What is hard for others to understand is that we lived in a military world at a time when alcohol was free-flowing. Heavy alcohol consumption was a way of life for most of the people we knew. I'm often surprised that my daughter is not a heavy drinker.

Anonymous said...

After all these years with Riley, I feel it's strange that you don't already know more of his past since he's forgotten so much of it or doesn't want to discuss it. Maybe there actually were some sinister occurrences? At this point, he must have a lot of brain fog so his story may or not be one of sequential events. My husband gets his all mixed up. He had an extremely dysfunctional childhood, as did I, but that was then and this is now. I don't sympathize with him much.

I feel saddened that your children "went along like nothing happened." That would raise a big red flag to me as a mom. During my first divorce, plenty happened. Lots of drugs and alcohol. They just wouldn't open up until I tried one-on-one conversations with each of them. I am so sorry to learn that your son has passed. He must have gone through years of internal turmoil to drown his pain in alcohol. You almost sound hostile towards your daughter for not wanting anything to do with your work. Maybe it's time for both of you to mend some fences?