The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.
Q My life has been a disaster. My father was a legendary drunk who lied, chased women, and left us penniless when he died at age 48. My mother was hooked on prescription pills, smoked like a chimney, and was miserable until she passed. My sister is alcoholic and will probably die drunk.
I managed to get a master’s degree and some successes, but typically in relationships I lose myself and the rest of my life crashes and burns. I’ve been so codependent in the past I lost a job by trying to please a woman. Then, of course, she left because I didn’t have a job! I suppose I have to laugh about that.
I had some problems with booze also, but I haven’t drunk in 12 years. Here is something you wrote which definitely applies to me: “The effects on children of living with an alcoholic are well known. These include depression, inability to form close relationships, relentless self-criticism, inability to complete projects, and constant approval seeking. Children growing up in a household with an alcoholic are damaged children.”
I am resilient and keep going, trying to live a spiritual life, but sometimes feel like giving up. I married a beautiful but materialistic woman who committed adultery with a wealthy man, stole my money, and left after she put a curse on me with a chicken egg. No, I’m not kidding.
I obviously made a bad decision. I didn’t drink a drop through all this, but now I have little hope for the future. It could be a lot worse. I have little money, but at least I have no alimony or child support payments. I am physically healthy, and I have a good job.
My question is: what hope is there for us damaged folk? I’ve made a ton of progress from where I was 20 years ago, but I am afraid to do anything now lest some unknown character defect, caused by my childhood, ambush my thinking and cause me more pain in the future. I have become the poster boy for caution.
A Clint, the children of alcoholics live in their own levels of Dante’s hell. Their life begins, as the poet said, in a place “savage, rough, and stern, which in the very thought renews the fear.” The worst thing about such families is that they take away the passion for life.
But that passion can be restored. Don’t take where you are now as a bad thing. Count yourself lucky. You are a newborn. You are at a perfect starting point. You have your health, you are not drinking, you have a job. Through some hard knocks, you know your weaknesses.
You are ready to begin. The well-lived life is full of adventures. It involves learning skills, reading books, taking hot air balloon rides, rebuilding motors, and learning to fly fish. It includes things no one can ever take from you.
Think of what you want to accomplish for yourself and fill your own well. When your well is filled, you will have a sense of: look at what is all happening for me. Rediscovering your passions and putting yourself in the way of things brings you in contact with people who are alive.
Surround yourself with others whose flame burns bright. Go to them, not to steal their fire, but to inspire yours. Go on a retreat, join a gym, begin tai chi, find a therapist, or just explore.
“We want the world and we want it…Now!” says a song by the Doors. But it doesn’t happen now. It happens by degrees, and one day we wake up and bad memories are like dead dates in a history book. They have no emotional charge over you.
Then, instead of desperately searching for someone, instead of being attracted by a female’s façade, you will find the kindred flame that also burns within you.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.