- When do you know when you need help?
- When people distance themselves from you, you know something is not right.
- It feels good to know yourself when you find help, define a solution and make a resolution.
By Bob Holzhei
My love affair with the outdoor world began as I grew up on a family farm in the early 1950s. The world was filled with unlimited possibilities.
It was almost 55 years later that everything changed and my life soared out of control due to alcohol. I realized that I needed help and voluntarily signed myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Although I stopped drinking, I discovered that refraining from alcohol was the easy part. I soon found that there was a more complicated and challenging part of staying away from drinking, but I had no control over that part.
I only knew that a couple of “my best friends” would understand my struggle. I confided in them and they were understanding, one friend phoned a few times to see how I was doing. That was very considerate of him.
I felt our children would be understanding and supportive; I was wrong. Prior to my downfall a few weeks earlier, I was working on arrangements to spend winter in a warmer Florida climate. My wife made a phone call one Saturday morning to a close friend in Florida. After the call, it was evident that she was distraught, and she openly shared with me a brief summary of the conversation. “We don’t feel it would be good for you to come to Florida, this year,” she stated.
Apparently, from the friend’s previous history with her father as a policeman, she had witnessed other alcoholic friends returning to their old habits without proper remedial longevity in training. I was shocked, although I understood the rationale that followed the dialogue.
I had no problem with the fact that close friends wanted to distance themselves from me, but my main problem at that moment was that the dialogue had upset my wife. If there was a problem with my drinking, the individual(s) involved should have contacted me directly, not my wife; though I realize now that they were just as concerned about me as my wife. My wife had suffered enough from my years of alcoholism.
The first people that distanced themselves from my wife and myself were our children and their families. One written letter from one of the four family members stated: “Unfortunately, we need to set boundaries and you are not welcome at our house. For years you have faced demons, you have created chaos and drama around the holidays. You have demons you are facing from your past childhood experiences. This chaos you have created has now impacted each of us, and you continue to steal our joy. We can not allow you to do this any longer.”
A portion of my two-page response began with: “Thank you for your honesty expressed in the letter. My words are also candid and straight-forward.”
Highlights include: “Feeling broken. I suppose its all my fault, however, it is not. No longer welcome at your home, I have no problem with that. Mental state, I feel better than ever since I’ve stopped drinking. I feel mentally healthy and am improving each day.”
I fully realize that I can’t change how others react to my alcoholism. I accept that, however, talking with my wife over the phone and indicating, “It would be best if you didn’t come down to Florida this year,” was unacceptable. On second thought, maybe they cared so much about me that they feared that leaving my 6-week old rehab mentors at the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) back home would be an even more significant problem for my wife…and even more for me.
According to the www.addictioncenter.com, Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is marked by a craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking—even when it causes extreme personal or social harm. Signs of alcohol addiction include frequently drinking more than intended, wanting to stop drinking but being unable to, developing a tolerance to alcohol, feeling symptoms of withdrawal when stopping, letting personal and professional responsibilities flounder in favor of drinking and spending an extreme amount of time trying to get and drink alcohol. FOR MORE INFORMATION on Alcoholism, please CONTACT YOUR LOCAL AA CHAPTER (https://www.aa.org/).
We never stop learning new lessons in life when we have a dependency on things that go out of control, and new habits are hard to form.
One thing I know for sure, I’m sticking to the recovery program and friends that care more than I know.