When I am on the elliptical machine at the health club, there sometimes is a particular elderly gentleman on one of the stationary bicycles opposite me. He wears variations of a darker plaid, short sleeve, button-down shirt untucked over his pressed khaki pants. He is content to methodically push the pedals with his brown, rubber-soled street shoes over nylon dress socks. Occasionally he has a pen in his chest pocket and keeps time by the gold watch on his wrist. He does not watch TV while he bicycles and seems unconcerned with his surroundings.
He is not sad and not happy. When I smile at him he smiles back and goes slowly about his business, shuffling to the next weight-lifting machine even though his trainer Rory gently reminds him, “John, walk heel to toe”.
My book, …Read more
Why is it that the that the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous maintained that the muscle and bones of their sobriety was one alcoholic helping another alcoholic? Because, they told each other’s story as no well-intentioned physician, spouse or counselor could do. The “I am different” alcoholic’s experience was confronted by the mirrored experience of another alcoholic. I am told that the identification of one to another is cathartic; different cast of characters but same obsession, self-loathing and desperation. The solution to the problem was better received from someone who had walked in those shoes.
So it was with me as a daughter of an alcoholic and a mother of a drug addict. My friends were the best, bar none, long- suffering with me and dishing out encouragement like it was their…Read more
Days after we moved in our house, a woman with gorgeous skin and gray-white curly hair showed up at our door. She thrust at me a foil-wrapped loaf of pumpkin bread with nuts, and welcomed me to the neighborhood. People don’t do that very often anymore, especially if they live around the corner and two doors down. We became friends.
Edie invited me to the opera. She adores opera, but her husband Frank equated it with what hell must be like and never went with her. After an hour of The Barber of Seville I had to agree with Frank and although of course I did not say that , she got my vibe because now she invites me to plays.
She is old enough to be my mother, which works well for me because I ask her questions on how to handle various puzzling aspects of life, not because she is old, but because she is wise. Maybe a little bit because she…Read more
Where I come from — the land of Women’s Clubs and thank you notes on monogrammed stationery — people don’t get tattoos. They wouldn’t know people who do. If an offspring with the lineage described above gets one, well then, someone, somewhere, went very wrong.
I am a they and my son has a tattoo. He has five tattoos – that I’ve seen, anyway, but I’m getting ahead of myself. As a reward for being high-maintenance in middle school, Ted asked for pierced ears at eighth grade graduation. As permissive parents who had to pick their battles, we gave in. I didn’t care much about visual issues at that point and Bush – well, his “yes” was the surprise of the century because he’s a guy who won’t wear a pastel shirt that’s not blue if you paid him a hundred bucks. As he used to say to the older boys in response…Read more
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds herself swept up in a tornado, lifted and twisted around until she lands abruptly in an unfamiliar place. She is disoriented and confused when she says to her dog, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
As I walked to my car after attending my first meeting of a 12-step program for families of alcoholics, I was Dorothy. “Oh this is special,” I thought to myself as the tears let loose in the dark parking lot. “I have enlisted in a program whose participants’ common denominator is that we love an addict.” What happened to my smaller world where recovery was what one did after surgery, not a discipline to reclaim one’s life from the devastation of substance abuse or the effects of another’s?…Read more