General Non-Fiction posted May 31, 2018 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 11 

This work has reached the exceptional level
From the depths to new heights.

A chapter in the book Shaking the Family Tree



Wrapped up in the genetic stitching that weaves its way through her family's predisposition for alcohol addiction, Dallas accepts the harsh realities of the disease and discovers recovery
Rhythms of Recovery

A tear pulsates to the surface
driven by the drumming
a recovering heart;
action marches
atop the grave of reactions--
buried in yesterday's orchestra pit;
while hope,
dares to resin its bow
the metronome of healing.
The vibration
of seismic change
rattles the cage of incarceration
hope emerges from the ashes.
Dressed in freedom,
it tap-dances across the stage
to the rhythm
sobriety's symphony.

When alcohol robs you of everything, reconstruction must begin from the ground up. The bricks and mortar that held Luke's new foundation together were named Jack and Coach, another recovering alcoholic. At Jack's insistence, Luke moved in with them and discovered a wacky oasis in the middle of a frightening world where everything he had done, and everyone he hung with, had to change.

Putting the gravity of the situation aside, the combined personalities of three recovering alcoholic bachelors, all of them control freaks, sharing space, made for one lively sitcom. It was Jack's house, and he was a meticulous housekeeper; Luke was O.C.D., and Coach was the original mold for Jerry Vandyke's role in the T.V. series Coach. The comedy of errors that ensued was the perfect distraction.

While Jack followed everyone around emptying single butt ashtrays, Luke kept track of exactly how many times a day he did it. Coach shouted out orders that fell on deaf ears. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but work He did.

In 1994, Luke went back to school and graduated Cum Laude with a double major; one in sociology and the other in criminal justice. In 1996, he took a job as a social worker in a mental health facility where he met and married the love of his life, Jana. Ten years into his recovery, Luke entered the field from a unique vantage point. He acquired his certification and became the lead drug and alcohol counselor at a correctional facility where he spent the next four years. Because he was able to bring his own experiences with him, no one could bull shit him. He had been down that dark, slippery road and made it back.

His most treasured experience occurred on September 26, 1998, when he and Jana gave birth to their only son, Dylan. Unlike his father's upbringing, Dylan has been the recipient of two loving, enlightened parents, who with the help of a huge, shared toolbox have created an environment that ensures safety and encourages self-esteem. My grandson has never had to experience the world of dysfunction wrapped up in addiction. Hopefully, he will be one of many missing links in our genetic cycle.

In 2013, the disease reared its ugly head again, compounding the loss of my mother. Jake came home from California for the funeral. Even though we kept in touch, I hadn't seen him for several years. I was so preoccupied with my own grief that I didn't notice the signs until the day he left. But Luke, Nick, and my nephew caught it immediately. The trips outside to the car, the smell of alcohol on his breath, and the lost look projected in his blank stare.

The day he was to leave for the airport, he walked to the bar around the corner, supposedly to say goodbye to a childhood friend who worked there. Luke was scheduled to pick him up in less than an hour. With the ticking of the clock, a familiar anxiety crawled its way up my reality. As the time drew closer, I decided to go after him.

Once inside, I was swallowed up by the dark, suffocating environment; a sharp contrast to the bright, sunny afternoon I left on the other side of the door. The long bar was nearly deserted, and I could barely make out the bartender in the dim lights. When I inquired, he nodded to a small room in the back.

For a split second, all the pain, the guilt, and the recriminations I had experienced during Luke's addiction came back to roost. It was as if a lightning bolt had catapulted me back to another dimension, and I stood frozen in time. It was surreal. There he sat, hunched over a shot and beer, staring across the room at nothing. I was so dumbfounded that I was unable to address it. We walked home in thundering silence.

The miracle is that Luke, who had ten years under his belt managing three out-patient clinics at the time, was aware. In that hour ride to the airport, he was able to share his own experience, strength, and hope. Because Jake was already so beaten down and ready to admit he was an alcoholic, what he heard sunk in.

It has been three years since Jake tipped his last glass of alcohol. He is one of those few who has been able to manage without any outside help. He knows it is available and tells me if he needs it he knows where to go.

Nick, my youngest, has his own romance going on with alcohol. It doesn't seem to have beat him down yet. He has managed to acquire two masters degrees and a string of other degrees and certifications. He has a successful business and seems to be happy. Nick has always been an over-achiever and a workaholic, two slippery characteristics indigenous to the disease. I keep my fingers crossed and send up daily prayers. That is all I can do. He is aware of the family curse. Every now and again I remind him of that fact, in a subtle way, of course.

Most of my grandchildren are of legal age now. When I see them tipping the bottle on Facebook, I bite my tongue and cringe. We all had to learn our own lessons, in our own time. When I find myself wanting to overstep my bounds or am inclined to start preaching, I try to remember my own journey and realize that the last thing I want to do is alienate them. If they should ever approach me for help, I will share with them the Joys of sobriety.

The Joy of Being Sober

The joy of being sober
compared to being high,
is bound in every breath I take
in my desire to live--instead of die.

It's measured in the steps I climb
all twelve to be exact,
that stretch beyond burned bridges
and helps me keep my life intact.

It's sheltered in the smile I wear
In the fact I can care
In the love that I share.

It's tucked inside a template
designed to harness hope,
it over-rides the need for booze
or any other kind of dope.

The joy of being sober
to being drunk or high,
Is the weightlessness that grew me wings
allowing me to fly.

Learning to live life on life's terms without a crutch isn't always a cake-walk. Life continues to happen whether we are present for it or not. Sobriety allows us to have input. It gives us a choice on how we respond to both the good and the bad. Instead of following the pack into oblivion, we discover we can take another path. The choice is ours. It always has been.
fires the kiln that allows us
to mold our own clay.


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