I was contacted by Chelsea Harris who is a Managing Editor at AllTreatment.com. Chelsea wants to give some encouragement for people who are struggling as she has. As she wrote to me: " It isn't very often you see a recovery, and I just want people to know that they are real and someone knows exactly how they feel". She will be graduating from the University of Washington in spring 2011.
So here is Chelsea's story:
"I never fit in with my family. Or, more correctly, they didn't fit in with the rest of the world, and I just happened to live with them. I was an only child and lived primarily with my dad growing up. He and both of his sisters had substance abuse problems. My cousins developed the same tendencies, and I just sort of stopped calling them or answering the phone around Christmas time. I was a little sober black sheep.
I considered myself lucky. Though a little inebriated, my dad held down a job and provided me with a home and the means to participate in whatever activity I wanted so I could spend less time at home. He was never mean, never violent; he was just a little tired and slept through some stuff. I now am entering my senior year in college and firmly hold the title of "waited the longest to have children". I am incredibly lucky he had the wherewithal to see his faults and compensate accordingly.
Mine is not a story you hear often, but you wish you did and I am grateful I get to tell it. However, I am never that surprised when people don't quite understand. My roommates and friends who had seen the heartbreak and frustration of unreturned phone calls and dismal family holidays were shocked at how quickly I forgave him every time he made an attempt to sober up. I always had complete faith in that man and I still do because he gave me everything I have. He blessed me with his wit, intelligence and great vision. And now that he has found what works for him I have had three fabulous years of free meals and loads of laundry when I come home.
That was what I had wanted and now I have it. I have a dad who acts like a dad should. I have a dad now that comes up several times a month to take me to dinner because he knows that I live off of rice and beans and oatmeal. I have a dad that emails me links to blogs he knows I would like because he quickly took the time to figure out my interests and hobbies so that way he could research them. He will listen to me ramble about papers and people he doesn't know when he calls me to check in.
My dad is my hero, he always has been and I make sure he knows that. He stumbled through raising me, for a lot of the time by himself, despite the fact he was young. He gave up his dreams and gambled on me having the skills to make mine a reality and never misses a moment to tell me how proud he is. And now that I am old enough to support myself (most months) he supports organizations that help other people get and stay sober.
I guess all of this is to say that, as Al-Anon teaches me, dwelling (on the past) is neither natural nor helpful. The joy of seeing a successful recovery, at least for me, overwhelmed the bitter feelings and residual anger leftover from missed recitals and soccer games. The best way to help your addict is to love them because there is nothing I could say that my dad hasn't already thought and he has beat himself up, I'm sure, and now I am just excited to be a part of his recovery."
Thanks Chelsea. I'm glad that you are finding your way in recovery and that your dad has as well. Good luck to both of you!
Note: I thought about whether to include the link to Alltreatment.com or not. Chelsea asked that it be included. After looking at the site, I saw that it was not promoting a particular treatment center but provided resources within each state as well as articles about substance abuse and recovery. I also don't consider my blog as an "Al-Anon blog". I write about my recovery and how the program has helped me. But my blog is not endorsed by WSO and provides only my experience, strength and hope. I also write about a lot of other things that I am interested in. That is the reason i decided to let the link stay.