by The Daughter
Mission Bay, California, USA
I was 17 and my life was on the cusp of falling apart. My parents were in the middle of a divorce. My father was an alcoholic, in and out of recovery, suicide attempts, and weird relationships with girls barely older than I was. When I came home at night, I might be the one to turn off the stereo and cover him with a blanket, as he was passed out on the couch. Little did I know I was going to spend ten years making things worse all by myself — years of doing drugs, drinking, messing up jobs and dropping out of college. On several occasions I could have died from my stupidity.
My father’s best friend was a teacher at the local community college, helping the kids that came out of high school yet still couldn’t read. He was about 55, with seven children of his own. He had been sober for about 10 years at the time, and was trying to help my father.
One day he took time out of his life to try and help me. He picked me up and we drove to a meeting at a community center about 15 miles away. I had known this man most of my life, but I was nervous, not knowing what to expect. He told me that he thought these people might be able to help me deal with my father. I walked up to the building and there must have been over 60 people there.
It was a new group of people for me — people whose parents were alcoholics. They talked about how that made them feel and how they dealt with it. They spoke from the heart about things I had never heard people discuss. I spent most of that hour-and-a-half trying not to cry.
He must have thought that he had failed, for I couldn’t go back to another of those meetings. You see, I felt so alone and so hurt. The isolation I had created to protect myself helped keep the pain manageable. I could tell that these people understood how I felt. If I were to get too close to them, it would have broken though my shell, and I didn’t believe I could handle that kind of anguish.
The seed was planted, though. I didn’t return to that group of people, but I found others like them. Today it has been 10 years since I last touched any alcohol or drugs. My daughter has never seen me drunk and never will. I went back and finished that college degree. I have a full life and I appreciate deeply the joy of just being who I am. Pain and anguish don’t rule my life any more.
He had seven kids of his own and hundreds more at school, but he took time out of his busy life to plant a seed …and save a life.