Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the Family

It's my last day of vacation out here in Indiana. I've had more good food than you can possibly imagine. My aunt is an old-fashioned cook--lots of meat and potatoes and cakes and cookies. Yum! She shows her love by feeding us all. In a way, food is her addiction. She's struggled with her weight all her life, even had the stomach stapling surgery. It didn't really help, and in fact she almost died from it. And like an addict, her patterns never changed. She still cooks like she's feeding a family of nine, even if it's just the three of us. And vegetables are corn covered in butter and salt.
Her youngest son, A, has been around this weekend. He has always been the troubled one. Their father, my uncle, died when the kids were teenagers. A was probably13 years old. I can't say if that's what caused him to become an addict, but I'll bet it didn't help. This weekend I had my first real conversation with him about it. I'd always heard about his problems, but never got into it with him before. But now that my family knows about S and has a little better understanding of our situation, I think A felt able to talk to me about it. He's a lot like S. Once he starts he can't stop. But A isn't sure he wants to stop, even though he knows he should. He also knows he can't find a happy medium of just drinking a little, even though that's what he'd like to do. S went through that phase, and probably still feels that way sometimes. Some people can't just have one or two drinks; they are incapable of stopping at that point. And those are the people that can't/shouldn't drink at all. But that all or nothing ultimatum is a tough one. They want to be able to drink like "normal" people. But there's no happy medium in drinking for an alcoholic. While talking to A about S, he said something that really struck me. I was talking about how hard it is for S to try to quit, but that he is trying and really wants to. A said "I know how hard it is and it really says something about how S feels about you. I've had plenty of girls say quit drinking or quit me and I left them in the dust for the booze."
I can't wait to see my man tomorrow to tell him how much I love him and how proud I am of him.
I worry about A. He's gotten into trouble with is drinking. Trouble with the police, car trouble, woman trouble, trouble paying rent and keeping a job. Alcoholics don't have to hit rock bottom to realize they need to get help. I really think that an educated support system can help the alcoholic before he gets to that point. I don't want A to kill himself or some else while driving drunk. A's a good man and smart with a sweet and beautiful son who needs him. I know I can't save him, but I will do what i can. I'd like to buy the HBO Addiction DVD's and book and send it to my aunt. Education and knowledge can only help us bring the topic out into the open. We should be able to talk about without stigma. I'm sure A feels like the outcast of the family, like his doctor brother looks down on him for his "weakness". But if that kind of thinking can start to shift, maybe we can save a good man from tragedy. And save his family from any further, or worse heartache.
My heart is full of love for the people in my life and for those I don't know who suffer deep inside from this disease. I must remember to live one day at a time. I must remember that I cannot save the world or even my dearest family and friends. The only control I have is over myself, my actions and my reactions. All I can offer is love.

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