Thursday, November 18, 2010

A visitor out of the past and the spectre of alcoholism

I must confess the reason I had to leave the party so fast was because I detected the smell of alcohol on my youngest son Dan's breath and so feared that he too might become a bad alcoholic as my oldest son Gary is, and my second son Raymond has been, that I had to go home at once. It isn't that I am not familiar with the smell of alcohol. I smell it every morning on Doc's breath, the whole time in fact that I am ever with him. A person can only take so much.
But still my association with Doc is from choice and conviction. I see him not as much as he would like but as many hours in the day as I can stand, which doesn't consist of more than an hour or so in the morning at this point. But I consider communication with the alcoholic of paramount importance. Nobody is going to change if the people who are trying to help don't invest some time in this person.
I speak from the experience of being the daughter of an alcoholic and the wife of an alcoholic who became violent when he drank. My second husband was also an alcoholic who became violent under the influence. In fact, I would say that most alcoholics become violent when drinking. That goes with the territory.
I have had long associations with other alcoholic men, one of the reason being that people who will spend the necessary time interacting with an alcoholic are in short supply. The rest of the people tend to look on from a safe distance, thinking they will not be contaminated that way or their children, but a society with too many alcoholics in it is not really safe for anyone.
This is the reason that I act from religious convictions about such beliefs as pro life at a distance from churches. I still smolder with resentment when I think of how inadequate the churches felt in teaching their members how to deal with alcoholism. I have barely begun talking to my father in the spirit world who inflicted so much pain on his wife and family with his alcoholism, this is in preparation for going to the same realms he has inhabited since his death when I was 37. I thought then I must stay alive now because I don't want to run into that old SOB for at least 30 years.
But I still haven't brought myself to talk very much to his two sisters who were not alcoholics but devoted Mormon church goers. They absolutely shunned their wayward brothers and therefore the children living in their homes.
After I was rescued from the home of the alcoholic at the age of 13 lest I go mad at such a young age, my one aunt in the northern part of the state provided me with the safest home I had ever lived in. I had been excusing myself each meal at home by that time to go out and see if the house was on fire, plus going out numerous times during the day to check for fire. I know my behavior was irrational, but I could not help myself, my anxiety had become so overwhelming. Within a few months at my aunt's house, my fire phobia all but disappeared. I could see very clearly what I had needed.
But my aunt never mentioned her brothers. I did kind of get the idea that she HATED them, although if pressed she would tell me stories about when they were smaller and did not drink, probably before they were 8 years old. Anyway, they had disgraced the family with their alcoholic behaviors for sure, all four of them. She was a good church going lady, too. But when I decided I had to move to Salt Lake in two years time she never forgave me. She barely spoke to me again. You would have thought I had become an alcoholic, but as the daughter of one I engaged in behavior she did not approve of, including keeping company with alcoholics. So I guess in her mind I just as well have been one.
Last night there was a visitor to see Raymond out of the past. He was the son of his dad's brother who did not drink. I really appreciated him coming by to see Raymond. We talked about Gary, too, and he wanted his phone number. He comes to Phoenix quite often on business and he was trying to help the family get a memorial headstone for Dean, my boys' father who disappeared into the desert and whose body has never been found. It will be 5 years since his disappearance in a few days. I talked briefly with this cousin whose mother was from my hometown of Boulder. She was a very pretty woman always kind and nice to everyone. She and this boy's father, Dean's brother, were devout church goers, and the fact that Dean never attended church nor did I too often seemed to keep us from ever being friends.
Although I thought it would be a very good thing if we could be friends, and at first I tried quite hard to bring that about, but I suppose my experience with my dad's sisters made me distrustful. I just did not think that non drinkers, good Mormons, were going to understand what alcoholism was all about. At that time, I did not find that Dean's non drinking brother or sister had too good of understanding of what Dean might be capable of doing when drunk.
I remember going to his sister's once to try to talk to her about the suicide threats Dean was making, even after he came out of the service where I thought he had been at high risk for suicide. Of course everyone knew I had been incarcerated in a psych ward, and in my attempts to get help for Dean, I had gotten incarcerated again for a week in Washington where he was in the service.
I remember Dean's sister threw off my warnings with an angry response, "Dean is all right. You are the one who has the problem, not him!" And there Dean was at home getting drunk and cursing God for hours, muttering to himself, and telling me he was still going to get hold of a rifle and kill himself!
I was furious and went home and told Dean I was going to have to leave him. I couldn't take him getting drunk and threatening suicide one more time, when his sister would not even believe he was mentally ill! He begged me to leave off with my packing, he knew I was capable of leaving him, and said he would never mention buying a rifle again.
I had called his brother, this boy's father, while I was in Washington and told him that I had just got out of the psych ward myself due to Dean denying what he said and did, but I did not dare stay with him and was leaving. I told him I thought he was a high risk for suicide and I wanted his family to know before I left with Gary, who was a baby at the time. I advised them to write to him, because I knew what had probably triggered off his suicidal impulses was the death of his grandmother, the woman who had virtually raised him after his mother died. He had not even asked to go to her funeral and now he was paying for it with I thought suppressed delayed grief that could find no outlet. I had done everything I could think of to try to get help to him. Now I had to leave.
I really did not want to point the finger of blame at anyone which is why I withdrew from the Mormon church to a distance where I thought I could be objective. I hoped that their cousin would persist in his attempts to become friends with my sons. All efforts would be appreciated. I just did not want to get into any arguments about what I did or don't do, in regard to church. Dean's sister was still alive and had been very good to Raymond. She was too old and too long out of my life for me to get in any discussion with her about my past with her brother.
Alcoholism is such a scourge anyone's efforts to understand it, try to help the alcoholics in the family, even sending them messages of good will would be appreciated. But from long experience I knew that a little bit of the blame game went a long ways. Might not do any good at all, in fact. So we needed to stop short of that.
I prayed for my sons, seems like I always have a prayer in my heart for those who drink, that alcohol will not become their master, will not wreck their health, and in fact kill them when they are too young to die.

2 comments: said...

I can see why you hurried away. Someone actually drinking at the time is hard to reach..better wait until they are sober. When I hear of or see any of my kids drinking, I am immediately very anxious. They think me extreme, so it's hard to even get across the feeling of them being in great danger,drinking. How to make that point? Not easy.

Paula said...

I shudder with each grandkid who goes away to college and starts testing the waters of alcohol.


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