March 15, 2016
Funny how the feet don't quite find the next stair after a bottle of wine.
I too have “trick” ankles as your (family member does.) I always blamed it on the fact that I had broken my ankle in 2000 while ice skating (actually before my drinking days began—late bloomer) and that ankle "was always going to be weak". Umm, yeah. So incredible, the little commonalities between alcoholics of all generations.
I too am the child of an alcoholic, but my father began going to AA and stopped drinking when I was a year old. He would have had 43 years of sobriety this year had he not died of lung cancer in 2003. He went to meetings all the time, and as a child I always wondered why a cement salesman was going to so many meetings after dinner. I think I must have started asking questions because when I was about 11 he pulled me aside at my brother's soccer game and said “C’mon kid, let's go for a walk” and told me everything. I knew what addiction and alcoholism were, as I had seen the After School Specials that served as the cautionary tales for our generation. My dad went from mere mortal to Captain America in my eyes. I was intensely proud of him and his sobriety. I finally understood why the serenity prayer was framed and hanging in every bathroom of our house, and came to later find out that all my childhood babysitters were actually friends of my mom's from Al-Anon. My parents were deeply entrenched in AA culture, as we lived in the Mecca of AA, Akron, Ohio. My mother and father would do “double leads” together at meetings. Unbeknownst to me, I was surrounded by recovery.
The other thing about that time was that my dad's alcoholism was the family “secret”. I wasn't allowed to tell anyone about it. It was a source of shame and my dad worried that if it were public it might negatively affect his career in business. So I grew up thinking alcoholism and recovery were very private and secret and could be potentially used against us if revealed. I stayed away from alcohol for a long time due to solidarity for my dad. But that only bought me time. My drinking career started in earnest long after high school and college, probably brought on by the pressures of marriage and tedium of motherhood. I have 6 months of sobriety now, andI have wished over and over again that my dad were still here. What would he say to me? Would I have even listened? Would his addressing concerns about my drinking have caused me to rebel, like a child does with a parent? And was this something I was always meant to face on my own? Are he and my Higher Power actually in cahoots?
Anyway, I think about him a lot these days, naturally. After he died, my mother gave me the gold chain and medallion that he wore everyday of his adult life (we were Italians from Youngstown—gold chains were government issue.) It has the praying hands on the front and the Serenity Prayer on the back. The engraved words of the prayer are softened, eroded by years of rubbing against his sweaty chest as he mowed the yard, supported our family with a career selling cement, parented me and my two brothers, and loved my mother through her years as an undiagnosed manic-depressive and subsequent treatment. (Another story.) He was an imperfect, deeply flawed, but wonderful in his own fucked up way person. The longer I am sober and go to meetings and work on my recovery, the better I feel I know him.
I thought about what you said in your email about perhaps guesting on the pod someday. If you ever have an episode that calls for a recovering mother of four, professional cellist, daughter of an alcoholic who had 32 years of good relapse-free recovery and someone with "trick" ankles and burn scars on her wrists...I'm down.