ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Mental Health»
  • Addiction

Alcoholism and Making Amends

Updated on October 4, 2013

I recently had something happen to me that I thought I would share with you. Yesterday morning I woke up and navigated my way from my studio to the kitchen for breakfast. On the way I passed my son who for whatever reason was up early. Now you must realize that waking up is not a piece-of-cake as it once was. My sixty-three year old body is quite reluctant to get out of bed and on that morning I still had sleepy eyes and I was not navigating the path with a spring in my step.

I thought my son’s good morning was a bit odd but I just chalked it up to his normal grumpiness in the morning and I moved on, determined to start the day despite my desire to crawl back in bed. A few minutes later my son came into the kitchen and explained that when he saw me staggering into the house he flashbacked on the times he had seen me drunk and it unsettled him for a few minutes.

Thus I was reminded of a valuable lesson that I need to always remember: the damage done because of alcohol abuse is always with us, branded on the psyches of our loved ones. I have been sober now for five-and-a-half years and yet it took one instance of a tired old man walking unsteadily to the kitchen to remind my son of the damage that had been done years ago.



Family members need to recover from the effects of alcoholism just as the alcoholic does.
Family members need to recover from the effects of alcoholism just as the alcoholic does. | Source

Sober Does Not Mean the past Is Forgotten

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have sat in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and heard a member share, with a great deal of emotion, that he/she wishes their family would just forgive and forget and move on with life. The alcoholic will speak of the hard work they have done to find sobriety and maintain sobriety. They have begun the arduous task of changing who they are and they have made every effort to mend fences and regain the trust of their loved ones and yet something will happen and their family will react in a manner similar to my son’s reaction. Oftentimes the alcoholic will be discouraged and talk about how unfair it is that their loved ones still cling to the old days and the old hurt. When will it ever go away?


Loved ones need to freely communicate their concerns
Loved ones need to freely communicate their concerns | Source

Quite Frankly It Never Does

An alcoholic needs to put this all in perspective. Speaking for myself, my drinking career spanned almost three decades. It would be one thing if I had just been in a drunken stupor for those three decades; if that were the case they could have found a way to adjust and their lives would have moved on with the knowledge that Bill would never get better.

However, for this alcoholic, the history of my drinking was one that fostered hope only to have that hope crushed time and time again. Trust would be established as I gave up liquor only to have that trust squashed once again each time I relapsed. My son lived with me during ten years of sobriety only to see me crash and crash hard in 2002. Then periods of sobriety would follow only to see it all gone once again, finally culminating in a relapse so bad that I almost died in 2006.

Overall my drinking career included three trips to detox and two trips to in-patient treatment so that it really did resemble an emotional trip on a roller-coaster for those who loved me. Trust, no trust, trust, no trust, and on and on it went until skepticism was the only possible reaction for them.


Recovery Is Multi-faceted

During recovery from alcohol abuse it is not only the alcoholic who is recovering. The family and loved ones of the alcoholic need to recover as well for they have been affected by this disease every bit as much as the alcoholic. Their lives have been in turmoil for years. Their lives have been disrupted and their emotions strained to the point of breaking time and time again and recovery does not come easily.

I have said often that alcoholism takes no prisoners. Those who love an alcoholic are affected every bit as much as the one with the disease and this important fact needs to be remembered by the alcoholic.

It is not enough to make amends and then move on. A simple apology does not erase the years of psychological damage that has occurred and any alcoholic who thinks the damage ends with an apology is a fool. The lives of the loved ones have been shattered and it takes time and effort to rebuild those things which were trampled during the drinking years.



Recovery is a life-long process
Recovery is a life-long process | Source

Is It All Hopeless Then?

Not by a long shot but it would be silly to think that years of suffering will just magically disappear because the drinking has ended. Through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I have come to realize that recovery is an ongoing process. Each night before I go to sleep I review my day and my actions. Did I say something that caused worry or harm? Did I do something that caused worry or harm? If so amends need to be given the next day. Communication is vital as I move forward. My actions need to be explained to those who care about me. I do not live in a vacuum and I need to realize that important fact and act on it.

Many times I have explained to Bev, the love of my life, why I acted in a certain way. It helps her to better understand and it lessens concerns she may have about me. I have done the same with my son and others who care about me. Since they do not have my alcoholic brain there is no way for them to understand my actions unless I tell them.

Related to that truth is the fact that I must be willing to listen to their concerns and show empathy towards them. In a very real sense my actions of the past have made them sick and they need to be treated as someone who is recovering from an illness and the illness is me.


Did this hub help you to better understand alcoholism?

See results

A Valuable Reminder

My son did me a great service by stating his concerns. It is so very easy for an alcoholic to slip back into old behaviors. I think a part of our brains would love to just forget the horrors of the past and move on as if nothing bad ever happened but that is simply silly and unrealistic. The horrors did happen. The pain I caused was inflicted and it is a pain that lies just below the surface in the hearts and souls of those who care about me. I cannot ignore that fact but I also can’t be consumed by guilt about it.

My job is to move forward. We are taught in AA that ours is a journey of progress and not perfection. As long as I am aware of who and what I am and I continually try to improve my life then the pain I caused will eventually subside. It most likely will never go away but it will subside and my loved ones will be able to live without fear.

I carry that responsibility. I am the one who caused this problem and I am the one who can provide those around me with peace of mind. It is a responsibility I take very seriously and it is one I intend to uphold. I owe it to Bev, to my son and many others….and….I owe it to myself.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I have no doubt! :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, my friend. I don't stay down for long!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, here is hoping this week brings you some happiness.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Will do!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Play Rascal Flatts "Movin' On" while you work and play, Sha!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I wish more were like you, my friend! I've done what I can on my end of the hemisphere. Time for this little girl to move on. (And I know to what I refer!)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sha! My experiences need to be shared. There is too much hidden by those who need to stop with the secrets and see the light of day. There is great freedom in facing the truth and sharing it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Beautiful piece, Bill. I pray others on the inside of alcoholism and/or drug addiction have the strength to see what it does to those on the outside looking in. Especially those who are on the INSIDE side of the outside looking in!

      You are to be commended, my friend. Your unselfish admittance is a blessing not only to yourself, but to all who now have the honor of having you in their life. Me, included!

      Have a wonderful day!

      S

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pickles, it is an important fact and needs to be understood and acted upon...as you well know. Thank you!

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Another good hub on a tough topic. You are right, those living with the alcoholic are in fear of relapse for a long time.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rika, that was a lovely thing for you to write and I thank you! The remainder of my life is all about creating good memories. The past is gone; all I can do now is continue to learn from it and help others.

    • rsusan profile image

      Rika Susan 5 years ago from South Africa

      This hub is filled with honesty, integrity and sincerity, Bill. Thank you for sharing one more part of your journey of courage. I am glad that you have come all this way. But I am also glad that there are these reminders. It made you think and I am sure that your retelling of what happened with your son, may just be the reminder someone else needs to stay on track or to get back on track.

      My mom's brother eventually died as a result of alcoholism. When I think of him, I have this picture in my mind of his young son at the time and the pain and confusion in his eyes. I am so very grateful that you have a chance to gradually create new and better memories and associations with and for your son.

      Voted up

      Rika

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gypsy, thank you and I'm sorry about your husband's brother. Unfortunately there are many like him each and every day and if they don't want help they are going to die sooner rather than later. It is sad but life is for those who want to live.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Wish some of the things you shared could have helped my husband's brother. In this world in Latvia we also have help groups and such but you have to want to get help. His brother didn't and we sort of tried to help for awhile but he got to be impossible. Eventually he drank himself to delirium and was shouting all the time, eventually contracted TB, God only knows where and mercifully died in 2010. Thanks for sharing and passing this on as it could help others who need to understand.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Debbie; you are a sweet and gracious lady!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eye say, I will indeed stay well and thank you so much for your kind words. Take care of yourself and be well.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Billy this is a great hub..

      wow.. so much great information.. I am sharing my friend

      Debbie

    • eye say profile image

      eye say 5 years ago from Canada

      wow billy and you think I'm a good writer ... I like the way you discuss real life and the problems we all face. No one walks alone in this world.

      Thanks for sharing and stay well ...

      voting up and pinning!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I understand completely, Faith!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      I will, billybuc, and the pleasure is all mine. When my son was not sober, he was not my son, if you know what I am trying to say. He was just not my son. He was a different person, and that is, because he was different! It was like having a stranger living in the house with you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! Tell your son that I send him my best wishes and I greatly appreciate your kind words.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      billybuc, this is a great piece here, very informative and written from the heart, so honest. My son has been sober for four years now, thankfully, before his two beautiful daughters were born. He chairs AA meetings now, and helps so many. As you state here, the family dynamics change so dramatically, as we had learned at Bradford, that really when one is sick with the disease of addiction, the whole family is sick. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Paula, getting sober would be the first suggested step. :) See, it takes a lot out of you to read my story but it takes a lot out of me to hear your story. I'm sorry for what you had to go through. It is a shitty situation that your sons didn't deserve and I agree, they would benefit so much from an apology or acknowledgment. Sigh!

      Thank you dear friend! I appreciate you more than you probably know!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Whew...It takes a lot out of me just to read what you and your loved ones actually L I V E D. What a struggle.

      How wonderful that your son was able to talk with you and tell you of his feelings. It seems it is important for both of you in terms of "moving forward," as you say.

      I had my own era, with an alcoholic (active) the chaos of it and the pain of having no choice finally, but to walk away.

      The aftermath you speak of is not an issue for me...in my own life any longer, but I'd like to live long enough to know that he came to a place of making amends to our adult sons. There have been no apologies nor even an acknowledgement.....I can't help but believe this would mean so much to my boys....

      but.....the BIG but....he'd have to get sober first..huh?

      Up and 4 of 5

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dana, if it hadn't been for people like my son and Bev and a few others I would not be here today. Love pulled me through and love provided the support until I could stand on my own and write these words today.

      I am sorry about your grandfather and the pain he has had to live through and the suffering he has caused. My best wishes to you for peace and understanding and thank you my friend for your generous words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lyn; that is my hope as well.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Wow. This truly is amazing. It is not an easy thing to admit once being not such a great person to love. The fact that your son stuck by you through all you put him and yourself through, and that he has grown into a good man, says volumes about the great father you are. Even at your worst there was something there that showed you weren't giving up and that he should't give up on you. To have Bev by your side speaks of the loving husband you have become. And to have the "fans" here that you do is a testament to your courage and character. How fortunate for everyone that you have found recovery and have chosen to share it with us.

      I hope that by reading this alcoholics and their families realize that their life might have been very near tourture at times, maybe it still is, but there is hope for recovery and healing. I know I gain strength from your words. My grandfather is an alcoholic. He has never accepted it. It has affected everyone in the family profoundly, and differently. Some choose healing, some anger, and others denial. And me, I am crazy enough to live with him and that has taken strength and understanding like I never thought possible.

      Thank you for your words. Stay strong and keep sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Adorata, thank you for sharing that story. Healing can take a lifetime or much sooner but it will never happen if the alcoholic does not take an active and compassionate role in the process. I appreciate your words and thank you for visiting.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 5 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Very interesting ... hoping this will help others out there. voted up etc.

    • profile image

      adorata 5 years ago

      Thank you for understanding that to say I am sorry is not enough! When we injure other people so severely that we wound their psyche and lower their quality of life "I am sorry" is not enough, it is only the beginning. Love, communication, respect and giving back to them the energy and life-force that has been taken away from them by our acting out is the way to go. After "I am sorry" we should ask " what can I give you right now that would improve your life and return to you some of the energy and love I took from your life through my misbehavior?" Then I think a true healing can begin for both the one who injured and the one who has been injured. I know someone who asked just that question and the one who suffered from his behavior asked him to pay for her therapy for as long as she needed it. He did and their health, trust was reestablished. Their relationship was healed and they became again close to each other- a true happy ending or I should say ... a true happy beginning!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Parachute, you know as well if not better than me that there is very little you can do about the reactions of your daughters. I'm proud of you for your twenty years and I'm sorry your daughters can't get over their anger.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day my friend!

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Thanks Billy, I needed to hear that today. My daughters are still angry with me - even after 20+ years of sobriety AND recovery. One thinks I'm looking for attention and that's why I go to A.A. The other is indifferent. Just as we can't make someone get sober, we can't make them go to Alanon. Some just enjoy the hell out of being angry. uh huh...ODAT. Hugs! Up and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tina, that was a very lovely thing for you to write. Thank you so much and I hope your relative is able to live a clean, sober life.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Emily, thank you so much. My son has dealt with my disease as well as anyone could hope but he still carries it around with him daily and for that I am not only responsible but also now more aware.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Thanks for this sincere article! It must be so hard for all involved and you described it all very well. I think it will help so many families suffering from damaged trust. I have only experienced this type of problem as a relative for a short time but I can relate to the instantaneous and irrational feeling of fear and sadness that can occur from time to time even if there is no cause for the feeling any more.You are doing a great job, both in your writing and in your life! It is a big achievement! Voted up and pressing all buttons except funny! Best wishes,

      Tina

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      It's true-memories leave a deep impact and can surface in a second. It's good though that your son expressed what he was feeling to you. I'm sure he's very happy about how far you have come. I'm going to check out the book links you listed, they look great, too. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Molly, I didn't expect to see you here; I posted a funny hub earlier today and was sure you would jump all over that one. Thank you for being a kind person who has made me smile with your words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      RTalloni, that is my hope. If my words help another then my past is all worth it. Thank you for your kind response.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vicki my friend, thank you from the bottom of my heart. We are proud of each other. :)

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Yes, thank you for sharing your road with us, Bill.

      "Each night before I go to sleep I review my day and my actions. Did I say something that caused worry or harm? Did I do something that caused worry or harm? If so amends need to be given the next day."

      Good advice for everyone!

      My prayers and good wishes are with you and your family.

      Up and sharing!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      This kind of honesty will hopefully help others stay on track with their recovery and help their families understand how best to deal with the step by step process. You do fellow alcoholics a great service by helping them understand that they need to take responsibility if they want to be successful in their personal battles. That is also the key to restoring relationships where they can be restored.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Bill--It's so inspiring to see your journey, and so great that you can share it with others. So proud of you. Many votes on this one and sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, your intelligence is exceeded only by your kindness. Thank you sir for those beautiful words. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing I'll enjoy all the rewards of life, and writing about alcoholism is my way of insuring against a relapse. I greatly appreciate you!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you again for sharing your journey with us. I am so glad that you are here.

      I have seen the alcoholic shuffle. This on a young woman who is no longer with us. Maureen, I mentioned her before I think.

      What a waste of a lovely woman. She couldn't see a way out.

      I wish you all the best Bill. May the road rise up to meet you.

      Voted up 4/5 buttons sharing.