What Message Are You Carrying?
It's a Monday morning after another one of "those weekends." The weekend that ends with silence as the Missus finally falls asleep after watching her husband drink throughout it. Intermittently screaming and yelling at her and his children. He makes it to work with a resolve to stay sober, not drink. And is successful, this day. He even manages to get home without pulling into that beacon that is shining bright along the way, the liquor store. The one where the bottles speak to him of the false promise of solving his problems. They are together as a family at the dinner table and manage to get through dinner although you can cut the silence, and tension, with a knife.
The next morning, with the same resolve about him, he manages to get to work and gives his wife and children a kiss goodbye with the promise to return for dinner later that day. He muscles his way through the day with some nervousness about him and thinks it best to take a different route home as that beacon of light now seems to have added a loud whistle to it. He makes it home to dinner and because he hasn't had a drink in two days there is a sense of hope when he arrives there. The look in his wife's eyes speaks to it. She believes that he has finally licked his problem. The children even venture a joke or two and even risk sharing about their own day at school looking for some kind of recognition or approval from their Dad. He manages to get back into the big bed that night although his advances are rebuffed by his wife. He passes out from the mental exhaustion of trying to stay sober all day with a bit of his own false hope about getting lucky the next night.
On Wednesday he rises to coffee and their seems to be a spirit of forgiveness about the kitchen as everyone is gathered at the breakfast table. His spirits are high as he leaves the house and begins to fall further into the delusion that he is exercising some kind of control over his mind, and drinking, on his own power. He's not as shaky this day and the smell of alcohol that some around him can swear they are smelling beneath that strong cologne and breath mints has left him now. He feels clean and his sense of accomplishment strokes his ego and pride. He manages to gather in the family room that evening and watch a Disney movie with the kids before they are tucked in and later in the evening manages to have his advances accepted by his wife. After all, the dust from his last storm in temper and words has sort of settled without the drink in him.
The next day his confidence is stroked by his ego and some compliments on his performance and attentiveness at his job. The boss seems pleased and he manages to elicit a few smiles and "atta boys" from his co-workers. Yet he is exhausted from what seems to be a battle in his own mind, a battle painfully brushed aside and shielded by delusion. He feels powerful and this fuels the delusion. "I've got this. I can do this!" He returns home that evening and finds that there is a sitter there for the kids, and his wife has planned a night out for them, a dinner in a cozy restaurant. He hasn't been around alcohol since the weekend yet feels confident. During dinner he misses the plans his wife is speaking of for the upcoming weekend for them and the kids. All he can see are the drinks all over the place and each is speaking to him. Enticing him to please come back. "You're weren't that bad, you controlled it all week. See, you can control it. You made too much of it, she made too much of it." Words he would hear all day while at work Friday. Payday.
He wakes up a bit shaken but still exuding confidence. "I've got this." He muscles his way through the day, uncomfortably. The voices he heard from all of those drinks the night before begin speaking to him. And they grow louder in their appeal and stronger in their romantic persuasiveness. He hasn't had a drink yet in his mind he is already there. The mental obsession has already pushed aside whatever frail and fragile resolve and sound reasoning he appeared to be exercising all week long. He typically brings his paycheck home for his wife, for the mortgage, for the groceries and needs of his family but tonight he won't.
He leaves work and turns his cell phone off. He doesn't stop at the liquor store to satisfy that mental obsession, he heads straight to the pub where he knows the bartender will be glad to cash his check. As he enters he feels a shift. A sense of relief pours over his mind and his spirit. He's home. And thinks that he'll be able to have just one or two drinks. But in what seems to be a blink of an eye he is already well past the number of drinks he really thought he could limit himself to. Once the alcohol enters his body that thought is easily tossed aside in favor of keeping the party going. He is now under the baffling spell of that phenomenon of craving and can't stop as much as he wants to, even as those images of his wife and children and thoughts about their plans for the weekend try to enter his mind. It is too late. He is off and running.
At his already delicate home his wife is left to wonder. And assure the kids that everything is "fine." And with that come the excuses she is so used to handing to them. As the night comes to an end and the kids are finally asleep she sits in the living room. Waiting. And hoping. Waiting and hoping for her husband, who seemed to have the problem licked, to walk through the door. With a plausible reason for his lateness. Thoughts that maybe he is hurt fueled by her own false hope and delusion shift to a resignation that he is drinking and she cries herself to sleep.
When the wife and children wake the next morning and his car isn't in the driveway the sour atmosphere that was in the home the weekend before returns with a scent that is stronger. He has never been gone overnight before. His wife walks around the house in a daze all day and into the night as he never comes home that Saturday. As much as the young children try to occupy themselves and "stay out of the way" they are more occupied with their father's absence and the week old memory of the previous weekend. All three of them fall into a despair that they are as powerless over this as the husband and father is over that mental obsession. As much as the mother wishes to lie to her children she finally confides, admits, what the problem is and the three of them begin seeking God in prayer, together. Three as one. They all sleep in the same bed that evening and the wife cries herself to sleep as the children sleep lightly and restlessly.
The husband and father will not recall this day. He is now in a blackout.
On the Sunday the husband and father comes to, late in the afternoon. He is dirty, covered in grime, and the scents he picked up that weekend from his promiscuity. His money is gone. He spent every bit of his paycheck. After he manages to locate his vehicle he returns home and walks in the door as if all that has happened is normal, a very natural part of life, yet he is also baffled at this turn of events. The children are ecstatic that he is home and instantly feel the hope that everything is going to be okay. His wife does not show this same joy, or hope. Her delusions are smashed and she is at the end of her rope.
The children go to sleep and do so more comfortably than the night before. As the evening wears on and he is hammered by his wife with threats and accusations he is worn down and agrees that he is powerless and needs help with his problem, that symptom alcohol, that accompanies spiritual illness. He refuses treatment at a facility or a hospital and agrees he needs to go to "one of those AA meetings." He agrees to find out where one is the next day while at work and will go the very next evening. His wife feels more hope than she had felt in years.
The next day he does much the same as he had the previous Monday. He muscles through the day and manages to stay away from a drink. He also manages to find out where a meeting is that night. He returns home after work and has dinner which is eerily the same as the week before. There aren't many words spoken and then he leaves the house. Although his wife is hopeful he will make it to the meeting and then return home she has her doubts. Her and the children say another prayer when he leaves the house.
This husband and father, a real alcoholic, manages to ignore that lighted beacon screaming at him as he passes the liquor store on the way to the meeting. He walks into this strange place and is welcomed by outstretched hands and manages to start a conversation with another fellow there before the meeting begins. He gets a cup of coffee and sits down, listens to the speakers each telling their tale. Most of them speak about their drinking, something he already knows plenty about. He hears war stories of debauchery and not much else as this is what is spoken to during the meeting. At the end of the meeting he's not feeling much better.
He already knows how to drink, he has that part down perfectly. He mustered whatever power he had left in him to get there dripping with desperation for a solution to the madness in his life, and in his mind. At the end of the meeting he speaks to that same fellow and asks him how to stay sober.
"Don't drink and go to meetings." is what this man tells him.
One of the saddest parts of this story is that this is what happens each and every day to men and women looking for a solution. Most times it's not there and many simply languish and will shuffle from meeting to meeting to meeting and will have to settle for a lower level of comfort than what those pioneers were able to offer after they had experienced their own awakenings of spirit. The next part that is equally as sad is that all of those things that happened to this man over a week's time can still take place in a man or woman even after they put the drink down and remain sober if they do not have the fortune of experiencing a change of personality, a spiritual awakening. A spiritual experience that sets them on a course to recreate their own lives.
The man or woman who has recovered that relationship with their Maker and is well aware of the nuances of spiritual illness as they have experienced it first hand is given the power to be of unique use to those who suffer from this illness as they have found the way out with God's grace.
After the endurance race through those steps we are handed a sort of super cape by our Maker and hold a special place in His army. My appreciation for this "cape" does not spill over from an over-inflated ego or arrogance. It was paid for dearly by not only myself but my wife and children, my family and all those whom I've touched over the years with my own spiritual deficiency. Hence that sense that my amends will last the rest of my life through a demonstration powered by humility. I have found that the spirit of continued work with others, not just alcoholics, is not to create a fallible dependency on myself or another meatsuit but to guide them home to their own Maker. And this has been my effort powered by Him since he had mercy on my spirit when I offered that first earnest prayer out of that combat-roll on that dark morning. I was allowed to witness a few of these experiences of men willing to try something different and the most powerful one was a dear friend Frank who is no longer with us.
An excerpt from "Delusion Of Mind, Strength Through Spirit."