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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, September 7, 2016

Finding traits on the road to survival

September 9th is my father’s birthday. September is Recovery Month. What do the two have in common – almost nothing. Except, that my father believed he could “cure” Riley of “that problem” if he could be alone with him for about a month. Daddy was old school. I have heard tales of him being greatly depressed after having lost his best friend during the War. The depression led to some heavy drinking. It didn’t last long because his newlywed bride, my mother, threatened to end the marriage if things didn’t change. He stopped right then and there and drinking was never an issue again. Yes. He did drink, but never over-indulged again.

With five children and several cousins being in his charge, Daddy was often overwhelmed with frustration. It seemed to all of us that he was all-knowing and was almost clairvoyant about what we were doing. Telling him a lie was bound to end in unpleasantness. He was never violent because he didn’t have to be. He had a certain look of disapproval that you always hoped was intended for someone else.

Besides being strict, he was also a bit of a comedian especially when taken aback by something one of us said or did. When he was exasperated, confused or surprised, he would place his open hand on the upper ridge of his nose, just under his eyes, and bring it up his face. He stopped and rubbed his eyes, still open handed, then continued to his forehead and the top of his head. Then he would take his hand down and raise one eyebrow and say “Whaaaat?”; Or sometimes, “Have you lost your mind?”; Or, some other expression of astonishment.

I understand that hand movement. Without even realizing it I seem to do the same thing. I guess I’ve been doing it for a long time but just didn’t notice it.

The other day Riley was being especially needy. He needed the picture of the dog to be moved a half-inch further from the television. He needed a new bottle of water so it would be there the minute the current one was empty. He needed the sheet pulled over his feet. He needed to know if I had called anyone about a supplemental Medicare plan. He needed for me to order him something from QVC. He needed… he needed… he needed.

After the first 3 “need requests” I found myself. Placing my hand at the upper ridge of my nose and imitating my fathers hand movements.

It is gratifying that I have inherited some of my father’s traits. It makes it easier to cope with whatever is going on at the moment. My father’s incredible work ethic, overwhelming perseverance, positive attitude, exude strength without violence, intuitive but logical reasoning, and ability to forgive, are traits that I wish to add to my bag of things I have received from my parents. Just like my blue eyes and reddish/blonde hair, I am my father’s daughter. I just don’t understand why I couldn’t have gotten the curls…

All of the traits mentioned above have led to my being able to survive my journey down this fork in my road of life. I haven’t achieved all of them to the level that I want, but it’s a continuous worthwhile effort. All things considered, the road I’m on is a short road that only seems like a million miles long. Yet, I’m more than just surviving, I’m thriving. And although I may be frustrated and exasperated at daily instances, I am basically happy.

The road to happiness can begin with an examination of the traits you have, the ones you want, and having a goal of achieving what you believe you lack. Once you have identified the traits, you can move forward with putting them into your everyday life. At first, this survival thing isn’t easy but it will get easier. When you aren’t even looking you may end up being happy and thriving in spite of your difficult road.


Melita Mickan said...

Just arrived here. My alcoholic is snoring, having been in bed since 6:30 (drinking since 1:30 - straight after work). I got told off again tonight because I didn't serve him dinner (he said earlier he had already eaten), indignant also because he has to put leftovers away (rules are: you cook, you serve, you pack away). But when he's drunk he expects me to be his b****.
I have gotten very good at detachment but sometimes I just want it to end. I know there are fun times ahead (major sarcasm). I don't know if I want to stick around for the long, drawn out final chapters. Right now there is nowhere to go and I am studying for my future while he works. I admit I stay for the financial support but also because I feel safe and loved... most of the time.
I'm babbling. This is a bad day. Tommorrow will be better.

Kim A. said...

Hello Linda,

I found you today while looking for information concerning death by alcoholism on the Internet. The entry I stumbled upon was dated in 2012. It described Riley's condition - he was pitiful. I moved to your most current entry and am amazed but not really surprised to find he is still living. Our bodies are amazing temples.

I am in recovery. On September 29, 2016 I picked up my 27th year chip. Yeah me!

I am happily married to Anthony with a daughter who is a junior at Appalachian State. We live in Wilkesboro, NC.

My daughter is from my previous marriage to Jim. Jim is an alcoholic. He does not want to stop. He wants to die.

Although Jim has 5 living brothers and sisters his care has fallen to me. I assume this responsibility because I understand what he is going through having been there myself. I also assume this responsibility because I do not want my daughter to see her father in this condition and I do not want her to have to make tough decisions concerning him at this wonderful time in her life.

He is still in his home. I bring him alcohol, food, and tobacco on a daily basis. This week he has been staggering drunk every day. Some days he can not say a complete sentence. He poops and sits in it.

I have had him to the doctor in September. His liver enzymes are up and sodium down. They talked rehab to him. He was talking back about it until time came to make a decision - he told them he was not leaving his home. The doctor then outlined a plan to "taper" off. I almost laughed out loud. The doctor's office called last week and want to recheck his sodium level - more blood work - I can't get him sobered up enough to go to the car much less into a doctor's office.

I go by twice a day to make my deliveries and see if he is okay. Some days I leave and can shake it off. Other days I cry all the way home.

I wonder how long I can do this? How long will he live like this?

According to you story it seems I have a long way to go.

Respectfully submitted,
Kim A. Reid

Lover and a fighter said...

I have just given my heart to the lost love of my youth. He's beautiful, intelligent, talented, and never stopped loving me after so long. I had no idea what or who he was, only that I loved him deeply and it was time for me to be with him. He's let me in, finally, reluctantly, to the extent of his disease. I kind of figured it out. Late stage. I see my beautiful, intelligent, talented father in him. Also an alcoholic, lost to Valium overdose. Something called on me to go to him, and love him, because he needed me. I don't think anyone else could understand or help him like me. I went to AA with my dad as a child, have a sister in recovery, guess I missed the gene somehow. I'm also a health nut and a biologist. He's to the point where he cannot eat, wakes to miss vodie & oj of which a fifth is eventually consumed before the next morn, I make him caloric nutritious lattes and soup he sips on, good for a couple of hours, then the nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, emotions hit him. He's malnourished, and has hit ketoacidosis sometimes. I have a life. Young kids, two part time jobs. But I'm willingly giving him my heart and service, tearfully accepting that I may have to watch him die from this. He is inspired by my love I think, perhaps enough to give him the strength to stop. Either way, he's mine now, and I am his.
Best wishes to all you strong loving souls.
I will continue to visit here, as it has offered more comfort than any other site. Thank you.