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The Bumpy Ride Begins

Early in Angie’s illness, I flailed around in denial, sometimes strong, as when I handed her logical consequences for being abusive. I felt like a moth turned into a butterfly then, but I later added, “Oh how this butterfly would flutter and die in the years that followed, as I backtracked over and over again, trading in my courage for equal does of martyrdom.” Memoir Excerpt: “Rehab was an old converted motel out in the middle of nowhere. Good thinking; patients could leave but there was nowhere to go. What a desolate place it looked like, with grass that hadn’t been mowed outside, crumbling asphalt walkways, peeling paint, and a screen door that was falling off its hinges. This is what I got for looking in the phone book and making a hurried decision.” “The ride was quiet. Xavier played a lot of tapes so we wouldn’t be able to talk much. And what could we say? All I could think was that Angie would snap out of this. She would get it right away; I was sure of it. How could this be happening anyway? I was certain I had been dreaming and would wake up from this nightmare. This sort of thing happens to other people’s children, I assured myself…” “Angie was a Foreign Service brat.  She was born in South America and moved easily from country to country, or so it seemed.  When we lived in Greece, she competed in England with the gymnastics team. When we lived in Rome, a scout picked her to be in a movie. She was a shining star, and her...

Buried Alive

Is the holiday season sometimes overwhelming to you? From Courage to Change, December 8 “The image of an avalanche helps me to give the drinking alcoholic (or addict) in my life the dignity to make her own decisions. It is as though her actions are forming a mountain of alcohol-related troubles. A mound of snow cannot indefinitely grow taller without tumbling down; neither can the alcoholic’s mountain of problems. Al-Anon has helped me to refrain from throwing myself in front of the alcoholic to protect her, or from working feverishly to add to the mountain in order to speed its downward slide. I am powerless over her drinking and her pain. The most helpful course of action is for me to stay out of the way! If the avalanche hits the alcoholic, it must be the result of her own actions. I’ll do my best to allow God to care for her, even when painful consequences of her choices hit full force. That way I won’t get in the way of her chance to want a better life. Today’s reminder: I will take care to avoid building an avalanche of my own. Am I heaping up resentments, excuses, and regrets that have the potential to destroy me? I don’t have to be buried under them before I address my own problems. I can begin today.” ‘The suffering you are trying to ease…may be the very thing needed to bring the alcoholic to a realization of the seriousness of the situation—literally a blessing in disguise.’ (From “So You Love An...

Split Personality

Memoir Excerpt: “In the fall of 2001, “There were a number of red flags screaming for my attention. One was the dropped Milton course.  It was totally unlike her to be that irresponsible and give up on something she had started. And then, a far clearer statement, there was the homemade concoction left in the basement for me to find.  On my way downstairs to the laundry room I couldn’t believe my eyes. One of my mixing bowls was full of some off-white substance I didn’t recognize. She wasn’t home when I found it, but I moved it up to the kitchen near the garbage disposal, ready to toss in the morning, so she’d see it when she came home. At 4:30 a.m., Angie exploded into my bedroom while Gene and I were asleep: “Mom, whatthefuck! How dare you mess with my stuff downstairs! Don’t you ever touch my stuff again, youfuckingbitch!” She looked raw, animal-like, with blood-shot, wild eyes.  I was half-asleep; I hoped I’d been dreaming. Angie slammed the door and my hand mirror, tempting fate on the edge of my dresser, fell to the floor and cracked.  Uh-oh, I thought to myself, seven years bad luck. OK, I guess I’m still asleep. This can’t be happening!  What planet am I on? ‘Scotty, get me outta here!’ Who is this horrible bitch? Gene went downstairs to check on her, as if there was anything he could do to stabilize this toxic, nightmarish situation. He came right back upstairs, trying to comfort me, the only person he might be able to influence. I remember like it was yesterday...