On ballerina slippers, temptation sneaks up from behind. Dressed in our disease, she does a silent soft-shoe, enticing us to turn around: to wallow in past mistakes, to bury ourselves in regret, to pull her out of the rearview mirror sheathed in the glamor of alcohol’s good times.
As temptation turns on her charm, she reaches into her bag of tricks and pulls out euphoric images of that first high. The one we could never recapture, no matter how hard we tried. Feeling little resistance, perhaps because we have become lax in practicing our program, she continues to entice us. Revving up her engine, target in sight, she takes dead aim at our vulnerabilities. If we start to feel edgy, she gives us a nudge, reminding us of that momentary relief that a shot of Jack Daniels gave us. Engaging our ego, she replays those feelings of superiority, lust, and pseudo-independence that were as fleeting as they were fallacious.
And my response to that question resulted in several more years of me, and the ones that I loved, and who loved me, paying the consequences. It was not an intentional lie. Instead, it was a skewed perception I had based on my keen ability to stay afloat in an ocean of denial.
Most alcoholics and addicts, even well into their addiction, sweat bullets as they strive daily to maintain that phony façade that supports their unfaltering battle cry that screams from the rooftops, everything’s just fine: And let me tell you, I can attest to what a grueling, demanding job it is trying to prove it.
Many of us lived too long in the slums of our mistakes. We lived in a gated community, that in the beginning, appeared to be both exciting and appealing. We roamed about freely in the fog of its deception, oblivious to the cost that it would eventually extract. In our false sense of euphoric meanderings, we stumbled over our broken promises, inflicted pain, and became burdens to those we professed to love. We abused ourselves and others and continued down a dangerous road without as much as a quick glance in the rearview mirror. We hardly noticed the retreating exits as they slammed shut behind us. Until that is, we were sealed in. Suddenly we found ourselves gridlocked, flailing about in our own crap.
Some of us searched endlessly for an escape route. We considered a variety of ways out. There seemed to be many options. Paths marked: You can do it alone; drink only on weekends, switch substances; only drink at home. Some of us traveled down each and every road but to no avail. It wasn’t until we were exhausted and beaten to a pulp that we saw off in the distance, a small crack in what had become our prison. It was just around the corner from the very last signpost. Unlike the others, it offered no excuses, led not to easy fixes, nor did it minimize the situation. It simply read recovery and attached to it was a key to unlock the gate.
For those of us who were willing to dump our false pride, box up our misery, and leave it behind in yesterday’s ruins, a new journey began. The road was less rocky, the scenery was paved with petals of hope, and we were never alone. Those who had traveled it before dotted each and every turn with outstretched hands and giving hearts. The journey is not a means to an end, but rather a never-ending path to enrichment that gets better and better, one day at a time.
Once clean and sober, we learn that in recovery we can participate in creating a brand new environment; one specifically designed to lift us out of the mire of our past and point us in a new direction. Suddenly, we discover that we have choices. A new future is spread out before us like pieces of a puzzle waiting to be fitted into the framework of our willingness to move forward.
Who would have guessed that we could move into a new neighborhood chock full of hope and promise?
I have encountered alcoholism both in my personal and professional life. The damage done is incalculable and recovery is long and arduous. Who better to tell about it than someone who has made the journey herself?
Here I present a series of guest posts by Dallas Hembra titled Shaking the Family Tree on Alcoholism from a layman’s point of view.
Shaking the Family Tree is a book by Dallas Hembra; a double genre memoir/poetry offering that looks at the genetic predisposition for alcoholism from a layman’s point of view.
The victims include the alcoholic, adult children of alcoholics, and family members and loved ones who suffer the shared consequences.
Domestic abuse is a grave ill that doesn’t spare any strata of society. Almost all of us have been touched by it either directly or indirectly. Women, even those who are highly educated and one would expect independent, are subject to domestic abuse. A couple of my own colleagues, physicians I know had been suffering silently for years. It makes sense when you think about it.
It’s not just the woman who’s involved but the rest of the family, particularly the children who are used as pawns by the abusive partners. The abusers maintain a strict and severe psychological hold on their victims which prevents them from escaping even when help is available. I’ve seen women who are brought to the ER with telltale bruises and fractures but when asked they provide excuses and are terrified of registering complaints against their abusers. To escape takes enormous effort and courage yet often the trauma continues afterwards and has lasting effects that can be disabling and interfere with rehabilitation. When you think you’ve made it across the bridge, you find there’s still a mountain left to climb.
In her memoir Falling Perfectly Without Trying Jenny Delos Santos writes of what starts as an innocent tale of love but then transforms into an account of unimaginable horror. She shares a deeply personal account of how she overcame domestic abuse and the deep scars it left behind and is still continuing to do so. Her story is filled with incredible pain yet at the same time tremendous grit and hope that readers will find inspiration from. It touched my heart and so will it yours.