Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You never know

The best laid plans change.  Not long after I posted yesterday,  we received a call that my father-in-law was bleeding internally and was being taken by ambulance to the medical university.  Once again, the wheels were set in motion but in a different direction.

We visited him,  made sure that my mother-in-law was okay, and brought her home to stay with us last night.  This morning she fell in the kitchen when she was roaming with her walker.  She is okay but clearly she will have to be with us until her husband is out of the hospital.  She is insisting on going home today to do some laundry! Her obsession with having everything spotless is baffling. But it has been her life time obsession.

My wife is struggling today with the stress of aging parents.  I know that she loves her parents but also is dealing with long-time resentments about the past.  She said to me last night: "I am trying to forgive her breaking a plate over my head when I was a kid.  I am trying to forgive my dad for being at a bar instead of my recital and school events. I  have to come to terms with the past."

We each carry a lot of baggage around from our past.  Some of it is very painful.  I trust that she will know when to drop the bags and shrug off the weight of what happened years ago.  Our history can't be undone.  It has shaped who we are.  But reshaping has occurred through something greater and stronger in recovery.

So today I am going to stay as much in this day as possible.  I am going to take care of Mom, check up on Pop, and give my wife some time to rest.  And I am going to go to the boat and work on my class work for next week. I won't forget to take care of myself too.

My wife won't be going on her trip this week.  But things will even out eventually.  You just never know when the bumps in the road are going to happen,  and you have to take a detour.


  1. Wouldn't life be great if we all could look at each day as a "do over".

  2. My heart goes out to your wife C. There is nothing simple about being hurt or neglected as a child, feeling that anger and at the same time loving and worrying about elderly parents.

  3. Sorry to hear of this, Syd. You are a good son-in-law and husband.

    Love to you,


  4. hey man sorry on the FIL...will send up some prayers...enjoythe time with your parents...def a reminder we need to do that more...

  5. Best wishes to your wife's parents and the two of you as you deal with this latest development.

  6. Stay in the present. Do what needs to be done. I'm struggling with repairing the storm damage and wishing I had a magic wand. But I don't. One step at a time. God bless you Syd. :)

  7. Oh Syd, I so get where your wife is at with all of this. A friend told me, "Once its all done, you will be so glad you did it." Those words were 100% correct. I often thought about that statement while taking care of my mom...they got me through and I honestly have no regrets at this point.

    It is a process thought of acknowledging our parents defects and how they affected us, and then letting it go and choosing to walk in forgiveness.

    I wish I was closer...I would come and help out with mom.

  8. Abuse in childhood can be a dreadful baggage to carry in adult life. I know my anger was consuming me from the inside, before I found Al-Anon. Good luck to you and your family, Syd.

  9. Parts of the circumstances described in this post parallel my own. I am an AlAnon member, not an AA member.

    Pain realized is one thing. My reaction to it is another. My reaction can make circumstances better or worse and can make myself and others better or worse off.

    Resentment, a reaction, is poison. I drink it. Sometimes the poison sickens me episodically and I puke it up in behavior all over myself and often others. The sickness by such poisoning can become chronic, even terminal. It's a spiritual sickness that manifests itself emotionally, mentally, behaviorally and physiologically.

    I had and have no choice regarding pain experienced at the hands of others. I do have the choice to put down some bottle of poison or another. And I have the choice between inflicting and perpetuating pain upon myself or others, or not.

    Ugh... So much room for loss and regret...

    One of my alcoholics once told me that people do what they know. It stuck with me and I've drawn sense from it since then because it's kind and because it actually explains a lot. It explains me and it explains others, both now and then. It even explains us when we know better. It helps me let go and let God or persevere in peace, as the case may be. The exquisitely simple logic of it actually permeates in various ways all of our steps and slogans.

  10. I don't know if I'll ever drop all of my baggage at once but perhaps I let this piece drop here and then that piece drop there...
    Oh Syd.
    I wish you all peace.

  11. I'm still thinking about this. If I were an alcoholic, my serenity and sanity would be in the spaces of life between alcohol and resentment. As it is, being daughter and wife and mother and sibling and friend of addicts, my serenity and sanity are in the spaces of life between withdrawal and resentment. Abandoning the extremes and poisons of alcohol or withdrawal or resentment, often has to be a choice; that is, decisive. Such decisiveness incites my higher power's willingness to help it seems. It effectively becomes my higher power's invitation to help me; and ultimately becomes my way to those more ordinary and relieving and sane and serene spaces of life.

  12. Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past.
    I love to hear other people's successes around this, it's so hard for me.

  13. Food for thought for me today, Syd.

    My mom was not June Cleaver, but she took care of me when I was sick. I will do the same for her.

  14. Syd, I've been meditating a lot on resentment lately. I think that grace is the place past pride, envy, fear, and expectations. It is in that state of grace that we find our humanity and connect with our divinity. The hardest thing in the world is letting go of resentments, anger, self-pity and fear, when they have allowed a person to survive insane childhood circumstances, when they have justified a person's escape into fantasy and addiction- yet, what moves into that place where these things once existed- will be grace- the moment we firmly decide that our recovery is more important that our baggage and turn it over. My sponsor is rather religious. He once told me the story of Abraham and Issac- how Abraham had prayed for a son, but his wife was barren. One day his wife found out she was pregnant by god's love, and they were over-joyed. When Issac was older- god told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham prepared to do so without question- at the last minute- god stopped Abraham and let the boy live. This was all a test of faith. Turning over our resentments and fear is like the same act of faith and that same sacrifice that Abraham endured. We must sacrifice what is dearest to us-what we believe has kept us alive- our resentments and self-pity as an act of faith. We turn this over to our HP in full trust. What we are always left with, if this is done with all of our honesty and heart is grace.

  15. I like the paragraph you wrote about our past has shaped up to who we are today. Each of those bumps and detours in the road were crucial to who I am today. Although the road continues to be painful at times, I am grateful that the healthy reshaping continues to move forward. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  16. Life is...BIG, Syd. Thank God you and she live a way of life which provides solutions to learn "HOW TO".

  17. Being flexible in life helps the road be less bumpy. Your wife has much to deal with; resentment, anger, guilt because she feels that way, all while she is working on the pain of the past. She has a lot to handle.

  18. Syd the time to lay the exces baggage down is as soon as one realizes they are carrying it. No one's past can change or be changed and looking to the cause of the trouble either stirs up resentments from them who were abusive or still doesn't bring closure to the one abused. Ask her to just leave the bag oon the platform at the station, cuz the train is moving on with or without that piece of luggage.

  19. Hope your father in law is feeling better?

  20. hmm yes.. tricky.
    I emailed you some forgiveness worksheets which I tried recently and was quite pleasantly surprised by..

    Anyway good luck with that.. for you and for C..

  21. Whenever I get bored I have to remind myself that things could change with the wink of an eye. Your determination to keep it in the day makes a lot of sense to me.
    All the best to C. and I hope you both can bear up under all the pressures.

  22. Syd,

    I am very busy these days. Life has picked up and I am actually living mine, not treating it like a hobby anymore. So sometimes I find it hard to get to meetings.

    I want to say that when i read your blog posts, I feel like I am at a meeting. You calm me way, way down.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope, and I have in my mind that getting to Alanon meetings is key for me. My life is so much better, why not reach to make it even better? Something this ACOA could never do before, so let me bask in the new found willingness.

    Bless you!

  23. Hi Syd,

    It's been a long time since I've been on the blogs...finding my way back again. I ALWAYS learn from you as you cause me to think. Amazing that you are being used as the tool that your mil may need right now, just to unburden her own heart a little bit and you are able to handle it with detachment.

    Thank you for always reminding me what a great program Al-anon is. I don't know where I'd be without it.....

    Your friend,


  24. Wow, I can so relate with your wife here in being "stuck" in resentments from abusive moments in the past. It is especially hard when we now need to be our parents caregivers. It is hard to let those memories go when they keep coming back when we least expect them to. My therapist reminded me of the metaphor of how our traumatic memories are moving on a spiral staircase....each time we revisit them, we are not the same as when we last visited them. Sometimes the pain feels as intense as it did then, but we are not who we were then. We are stronger, & more resilient. Over time they will hold less power & intensity. I like that I can look back & see that I made it through all that....& I still like me& the life I have been given. It is ALL a gift.

  25. (A month later, Oct. 17, 2011)

    This post and your wife and my comments came to mind as I read today's meditation in Alanon's "Hope For Today" book. Somehow I only learned a few days ago that the meditations in this book are by adult children of alcoholics! Anyway, today's meditation is about the writer's alcoholic parent. I found it helpful, and I'm mentioning it here with the idea and hope that your wife will, too.

    My alcoholic father is aging as are your wife's alcoholic parent/parents. Point being, their days are numbered by advancing age. The writer's alcoholic father is deceased. The meditation served to enliven something that's been dormant in me, and jump-start me somehow. To what, I don't know yet.

    I spontaneously found fault with the writer's dismissiveness of her father, yet see that I am guilty of the same. And her description of a wallet gave me a helpful visual of my father along with a rush of compassion and defense for him. While I've distanced myself from him for my welfare and preservation, I've done so with an air of dismissiveness which I don't like seeing. The rush of compassion and defense for him is real I know, and warm and welcome. And a relief.

    It occurred to me that my father has loved and dreamed, too. Some of his loves and dreams are known and others are dear and private. I'm thinking that his loves and dreams made the reality of his alcoholism worse. And that his loves and dreams fed his hopelessness and his hopelessness fed his alcoholism. And maybe his alcoholism fed his hopelessness. What hell.

    I see that the bias that allows me to chalk an alcoholic up to his alcoholism and dismiss him on that basis, is evidence of an awful blindness as well as blinding. I'm thinking now of a line in the hymn Amazing Grace, "...was blind but now I see..." That is to say, Alanon and my higher power are helping me see, and with that help comes vision and empowerment and relief.

    I found myself wanting to call my father and ask him some benign legitimate thing or another about himself or his day or his upcoming trip or his ideas or advice as a way to acknowledge him, his existence and his place in the world, and to get some dialog going again. Dialog uncluttered by the past, which I can do because he hasn't died yet. Oddly enough, after reading the meditation and responding internally to it, I received a phone call from someone who needed me to get hold of my father for him, for something benign and legitimate. Imagine that... :)

    I've written a t l e n g t h here at your site before. If you don't welcome long comments, or returns to older posts as this one is, will you say so here so I know?


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