I often allude to 12 Step programs…borrowing slogans, chanting their rhetoric mainly because it’s helped me so.
I went into Al-Anon, the program for those affected by the aftermath of alcohol, in 2006. I was in a tempestuous relationship with an alcoholic I desperately needed to get away from. It gave me the strength to ultimately do so.
But what I had learned almost immediately, was he was merely a symptom of a disease I suffered from my whole life. My parents were alcoholics, one of the reasons I was always drawn to drunks since it felt so familiar. It’s what I knew. I should have walked through those doors 20 years earlier, but as they say…you get there when you get there.
They call it recovery because you need to recover what is yours…what was stolen…what you never thought you even deserved in the first place. You spent your life trying to just survive the chaos and panic you were forced into by the illness of alcoholism.
It’s the first thing you learn, it’s a sickness not any different from cancer or heart disease.
I never realized how unwell my dad was, inheriting his addiction from his father who got it from his. I was angry he died at 40, his liver giving out, never really knowing him as a steady presence in my life. 12 Step changed all that…pried my rusted heart wide open.
And my mother who, when she drank, beat me senseless the reason I truly believe I lost my hearing. Seven doctors had no explanation to why, out of nowhere, this should happen. Usually hearing loss is gradual…for me it was like a light going out. All those punches in the head against the black and white tiles of our bathroom floor where she’d knock me silly, only to wake up, as she beat me more.
Forgiving her is a horse of a different color, yet I have. She was a sick lady fully charged under the evil influence of alcohol.
But the good news is…we still recover if willing…it takes time and patience, but we do.
We lay down our arms replacing them with forgiveness for those who couldn’t help themselves.
It’s said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I say, what doesn’t kill you opens your heart.
By living one day at a time, where my feet are, doing the next right thing…I’m able to enjoy life in a way I never knew was possible recovering, what was always truly mine.