Sunday, October 17, 2010

My nerves tattered on a Sunday morning

I went this morning and got the Sunday paper and coffee and a donut and went to the patio to read as I have taken to doing since I decided to stop having any meals at Doc's in the interest of distancing myself from him. I encountered my neighbor Daniel, and a friend Betty already out there along with Suzanne who has taken to coming to the patio more lately. I told them that I had gotten up in the middle of the night to write a message to Camille Kimball, the author of "Sudden Shot" about the Phoenix Serial Killers case to see if she might suggest people in Arizona who might support my writing my memoir which involved a crime perpetuated against me as a child. Suzanne said she did not want to talk about such a subject, especially on a Sunday morning. I conceded that it was a difficult subject so did not object when she introduced another topic of conversation. Another gentleman who has expressed he does not like my loud laugh, had already ostentatiously gotten up and left when I arrived. My philosophy of life is that not everybody is going to like you, so I did not allow that to ruin my good mood.
Suddenly I looked up and saw Doc approaching our table in the patio in a very rare visit out to the complex's main outdoor gathering place. Doc said he was looking for me as he thought I was dead! He explained I had not answered my phone either the night before at 10:30 pm or in the morning as he wanted to ask me to purchase some donuts along with the Sunday paper which he always pays for when I drop it off to his apartment. We sort of wrangled around a little bit, but I quieted down to give Doc the chance to mix and mingle with his neighbors. He made a reference to his alcoholism and Suzanne who has known him a long time said that he was a civilized drunk. Doc was grateful she was looking at his alcoholism in a good light. So we were kind of gingerly getting along when Suzanne moved a chair in closer to the table just as another gentleman was approaching it to sit down. He thought that she did it on purpose so he could not sit there, saying she was saving that place for her husband. He told her her husband was in a scooter.
This somehow caused Suzanne to lose her temper. She went off to this elderly gentleman and he did not take that quietly. Pretty soon there was a raging fight going on with Suzanne throwing a book at him twice which fortunately did not go far enough to hit him. This quarrel went on so long, I got up and left.
Doc followed me hollering back to those still seated, "And you wonder why I don't come down here!"
I pointed out to him once we got to his apartment that he was almost as unstable as Suzanne who has quit drinking but might be bi-polar, and one never knew when he might turn nasty when he was out of his apartment interacting with real people. I did what he requested I do on the computer, checking his mail and FB for messages. I did not want to wrangle with him long, so said I was going to leave.
I went back down to see if things had quieted down in the patio before I went home, and talked to some other residents for a little bit until my tattered nerves could not take the possibility of any more outbursts.
I came home and finished the memoir I had been reading the night before when I decided to write a message to Camille Kimball. It was written by an alcoholic and described how she fell to the bottom, got a DUI, had to serve 12 days in tent city. Boy, that was rough. She said the food was as bad as it has been reputed to be since Sheriff Arpaio has even bragged on serving such cheap meals. I was a little shocked at what she had to go through. But in a court session she listened to the testimony of a man horribly injured by a drunk driver, probably in a blackout as she had been when she got her DUI. His son was also badly hurt but the drunk driver escaped with only minor injuries. He was, however, charged with the full responsibility of this bad wreck and sentenced to 17 years in prison. She knew she had lucked out driving when she was in a blackout by just hitting the wall instead of wrecking another car.
She described in her book "Angels in my Path" people who had helped her when her family had given up on her. Her husband closed all the bank accounts and left her with no money, kicked her out of the home, and took full custody of the children. A friend who was a lawyer took him to court after she had stayed sober a year and the judge forced him to divvy up some of the assets and also to give her some time with her children. This woman had been molested by her step father on a regular basis as a child. Her mother wrote a letter published in the book saying she was sorry she had not left this man after she was told he had sexually abused her daughter. The woman felt this had contributed to her alcoholism with a feeling of being worthless.
She described meeting the woman who helped her publish her book in Arizona. Since I was the daughter of an alcoholic I had also suffered damage as a child due to my suicidal father's heavy drinking and thought that experience, too, should make my memoir valuable to other children of alcoholic parents. How I had dealt with his alcoholism and what some of my conclusions were about having alcoholic parents. She also described meeting a man who had been in prison several times due to alcoholism and drug addiction as well as dealing, and was staying straight and sober by helping others like her. He was a brilliant man who had studied law in his years in prison and helped her to face her trial on the DUI charge. She credits him with saving her life.
In the patio I was once again chided by some for seeing Doc at all, and I said that I always wished that people would have interacted with my father more in his years of drinking. I said people make a mistake not to interact with an alcoholic because as long as he is affecting children, could hurt others, as well as kill himself as he is fighting a terrible disease he should not be ignored. That is not going to do anything for him. That is the easy way to deal with an alcoholic.
My father got drunk, crossed the yellow line, and hit a car with three young men in it, head on, in the last year of his life. He was very lucky that only one of the young men was hurt badly. He suffered a broken leg. He was going to have to go to court where his driving license would undoubtedly be taken from him for life and a heavy fine laid on him. A month before the trial he died of a heart attack at age 64. He was hit so hard in the chest when the steering wheel of his Cadillac nearly impaled him, I always thought it might have contributed to his heart attack.
I became my father's caretaker for the last two years of his life and got him off sleeping pills as well. He needed family intervention to try to help keep him straight.
He had gotten married which I tried to talk him out of, and his wife left him two months after she married him. He went to her home in northern Utah to try to persuade her to come back to him, she refused, and on the way home he got drunk and wrecked.
I thought she acted irresponsibly by marrying him as I was pretty sure she did not love him. I could not help but feel his assets, as a brand new Coupe de Ville Cadillac, a new home, money in the bank, stocks and bonds, played some part in her decision. She hardly knew him. But there was really nothing I could do about that. I moved out as soon as they got married. I soon had to move back in and help him to try to get over his aches and pains caused by the wreck. Trying to see that he did not get upset enough to get drunk again. He was already in enough trouble as it was.
We daughters did not want our father to be responsible for hurting any more people than he already had. In order to keep track of him, some of us had to intervene in his life, either live with him, or check on him all the time. We daughters kept him from doing a lot of stuff. He would sober up and go for long stretches when he was older not drinking, but he needed help and emotional support to stay straight.
I have since I was young intervened with alcoholics whenever I thought I could help, befriending them if that was possible without hurting my family, and so on. I believe in keeping the lines of communication open when a family member is doing too much drinking, father, brother or sister, or sons and daughters. I have done a lot of thinking and tried a lot of different things when my sons were drinking. I still have one son who is an alcoholic that I do not let go long without a phone call to tell him I care. If I think I can say something that will be effective at all about his drinking I do. So does his brother who has become a staunch believer in the AA program and other ways to control a drinking problem. But I just never give up on an addicted person, whether it is someone else or myself, above all if he is one of my children. I have always thought mothers should never give up on their kids. I don't think you can ever give up fighting any kind of addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or food. Or gambling. Losing your temper. Whatever.
You just have to keep trying something!


Amrita said...

I would find the patio very upsetting, unless I could make peace there. Avoid contentious people Gerry.

Gerry said...

A great many people are contentious in the Westward HO, Amrita. I suppose it comes from being bi-polar, etc. In fact guess we aren't going to have a tenants' Org anymore because all the residents do is fight. I guess we will earn our right to be here by acting as referees and sending out alerts when someone is having a meltdown to get out of their way! I'd hate to think this is part of the American character. said...

Maybe the general public is not as contentious as your group, but I do think they are apt to have their say, with heat. Or just be nasty like Doc. I do think you deal with more extreme behavior there. Take care.


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