I grew up in a world of Dichotomy, a world of beer cans and Bibles, I was expected to be nice to others, but treated not so nice in our home by my alcoholic father. I recited prayers but felt panicked. To me this was normal.
When I was somewhere around thirteen years old, one of my jobs was to clean out the empty whiskey bottles and beer cans from the fridge in the pole shed on our farm. Did Dad not have a garbage can? I never even asked.
On Sundays, Dad was an elder, and a Sunday School Teacher in our church. During the week his old brown Ford spent quite a bit of time parked in front of the pool hall. This too seemed nothing out of the ordinary. Like the Squirt in the fridge that only Dad could drink?
I never thought much about any of these anomalies until my fiancé broke up with me. The pain overwhelmed me so I went running into a twelve-step group, though I had no idea what it even was. It was there that I started to see things I had never seen before, like turning on a cigarette lighter in a completely blackened room filled with junk. Gradually I got rid of the cigarette lighter and graduated to a flashlight and then a lamp. The more meetings I attended the more clutter I was able to see, deal with and throw away. The shades have been pulled up and the sun has been shining in the room for some time now but there is still junk there. Odds and ends, boxes that I stub my toe on, clutter that I trip over. Pain is still part of my journey. Family members are in that room, bumping into each other, stepping onto each other’s toes, smiling while they walk around the elephant that lounges on the area rug.
Sometimes I take a step back, get hurt again, and then more clarity comes.
A few months ago, I was excited and told my uncle about something positive that had happened to me. His response shocked me. He said, “Don’t be a show off.” Once again, I was paralyzed with shame. Was I being a show-off? Was it wrong to share with him something I was excited about?
That little remark bugged me for six months straight. He doesn’t even know me—I’m a show-off? I spun. I am learning sometimes when you can’t get rid of something, God has used Velcro. If you let it go quickly—you might miss your lesson. This little comment turned out to be not just a lesson but a gigantic spiritual awakening.
The light had been turned on to high-beam. Suddenly, it dawned on me that my uncle’s comment was not something my God would say. My uncle is my dad’s brother, and although he is not an alcoholic, the family disease of alcoholism had distorted our faith like the mirrors in a fun house.
My God is a God of love, not fear, graceful, not condemning. The mirrors in God’s house, tell us we are his precious sons and daughters. He loves us as if we were the only one. He wants us to dazzle like the stars because he has created us. He wants us to share our stories.
Funny how a little drink can alter so much, a day, a person, a life, a family, even a faith.
I no longer need to live my life in a confusing dichotomous state. The Al-anon and ACA groups that I attend are transforming the alcoholic distortion I had learned back to what my faith was meant to be. The Bible and a lot of love, but no beer!
Please send your 1st Person story to email@example.com. We’ll connect with you if we choose to publish your piece in a future issue. Thank you.
Last Updated on April 6, 2022