Don't Realize How Deep This Is Until A Tragedy Occurs...
Somehow I never
thought that when I was 49 years old that being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic
would still have such an effect on me. When
a sudden eruption of emotions fills our lives, we tend to start reverting very
quickly. Just such a thing
happened to me that I knew would happen someday, but dreaded the day when it
I received a telephone
call from my brother who has not talked to me in 7 years.
This is part of my familyís dysfunction; they punish you with
silence. The problem is the crime
does not fit the punishment. When
I heard this voice on the phone, I did not recognize it.
I wouldnít say anything, and when he said, ďThis is your
brother,Ē I thought it was a sick joke.
After listening and trying very hard to hear the voice, I knew who it
was and it hit me that this telephone call was not going to be good.
ďMom had another heart
attack!Ē My knees buckled. All
my life my father told me, ďYou are killing your mother.Ē
About 8 years ago when the last heart attack happened I fell apart.
No one around me knew why. I
was frozen, stuck, could not move. What
they didnít know was my mother was dying and it is my fault.
Wow! Here I was over 500
miles away, hadnít been around my family in years and it was still my fault.
You see, those messages they send us as children have more power than
we even know.
My silence on the
telephone this time was different. I
knew I was not responsible for what was about to happen even though my family
would like me to continue thinking that.
I was concerned and wanted to know was the doctors had to say.
My father came up in the conversation and what happened next may shock
you, but not me (you see, ACAís are trained well).
I was told not to visit on Thursday or Friday because one of my
brothers would be there. My
father didnít think it was a good idea for both of us to be in his home at
the same time. Anyone want to bet
that they didnít tell my other brother to stay away, but only me?
Oh, but they forgot one
thing. After 14 years of recovery, this is not my problem, but their
problem. The first step tells me
I am powerless over their behavior, and therefore work the next two steps.
The more information I was given the more dysfunctional the story
became. It appeared to me just
like it was when I was a child. Three weeks prior to this call the heart attack actually
happened. They waited to call me;
they wanted me to feel the guilt again. Now,
I really hate to say what is next because it really makes me sound as if I am
doing something wrong or missing the point.
I have worked with over 13,000 people with similar problems and
families. Not one of them even
closely resembled what was about to happen.
After almost 30 years of being away from that mess, my mind immediately
ran back home and into all the chaos that happened to me and for the first
time I came up with a different conclusion.
Every family I have seen
or heard of has been able to resolve this problem by working the steps, making
their amends and believing in God. I
did all those things and more; the result was the thing I would say was
different. It isnít that the program doesnít work, the steps are
flawed, and that God is punishing me. It
is the fact that I made all of my amends to my family many years ago; they
havenít let go of the past. Gee,
I am still being considered a hostage. You
canít be a hostage if you donít let them take you.
I have a solution.
The solution is simple.
Do I go and visit the family that taught me not to trust was the thing
I needed most in life? That
intimacy is a term that other people do, but not in our family? That when there is a problem, deny it, blame it on someone
else? Or do I go as who I have
become and take God with me? No
matter what I do it will be brutal. It
always has been brutal and why should I expect that to change? They havenít changed but for the first time in my life, I
know who the enemy is. Would it
surprise you to know that the possibility of a fistfight breaking out under
certain conditions exists? What
they donít know about me is that I know how to call 911.
I know how to press charges against those who hurt me.
I know how to set boundaries.
I have to go and say
goodbye to one of the people in my life who trained me to have an ongoing mess
that will take a lifetime to clean up. That
is sad for me. I want my mother
to know that I love her no matter what happened.
I want her to believe that I have forgiven her for all she has done.
This is not the blame game anymore; this is all about being a mature
adult and walking my talk. I am sure that my mother and I will reach an agreement, we
have in the past and see no problem with that today. My father on the other hand will make sure that no matter
what happens it will be my fault. God,
you are awesome! You remove me
from a situation before it almost kills me and place me into the lives of
those who need structure, guidance and support.
Now the test comes. Will I
be able to live up to what it is I have told other people for years to do or
will I fail? Failure is a choice
and I choose not to fail.
My motherís passing will
not stop the voices I hear in my head calling me stupid and a failure.
Nor will my father who will now come with a vengeance be stopped.
It is my responsibility to end this.
I divorced my father 7 years ago.
Went to the courthouse, got the papers, filled them out and mentally
filed them. After asking for my
dignity back in the settlement, six months time passed and I was better.
I am not over this, just better. What
my father doesnít know about me will cause a problem.
I am no longer intimidated by the way they choose to act.
I am a man, a God fearing man! Confronting
my own addiction was the first time in my life I stood up for myself because I
mattered. Believe me, it is about
to happen again. The details do
not matter; only one thing does. Will
I treat them with respect even after what they did to me?
Yes! Will I act as a
mature adult and do what is necessary for me to say goodbye? Yes! Will I take
the focus off of them to defend myself against their attacks on me?
No! Will I survive what is
about to happen? Yes!
It is my opinion that when
someone dies the only thing they have is their character.
The memories of my behavior to some people will always be painful. I want to remember my mother in my own way.
Not for abandoning me, hurting me, leaving me alone in the world to
defend myself. I want to remember
that she loved me, maybe not for who I was, but deep in my heart I know one
thing. She wanted me to succeed.
Today, I have done that, they just donít want to hear it or accept
it. Sounds like denial to me!
John Banks, CAS
and founder of F.R.E.E.