The most broken man ever to recover from alcoholism.
It is quite possible that I could be the most broken man ever to recover from childhood trauma. Only very recently have I miraculously recovered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By practicing love and forgiveness I am now aware of my traumatic childhood and stunted emotional growth. I can now understand the demons that were causing me to drink. I was self-medicating to soothe my PTSD. I used to walk around in an infantile rage, even when sober.
Until very recently, I have lived my entire life in constant fear and loathing. I cannot think of one single person from my childhood that I felt safe with when I was growing up. I can see my brokenness in the frozen and scared faces of myself and my siblings in our childhood photographs. Dogs have been the only great and constant loves of my life.
Then in the Spring of 2020, I experienced a miraculous healing with eye movement desensitizing and reprogramming (EMDR) of my trauma. Because I am a life-long learner I was able to learn and implement new skills to self-heal myself. For the first time in my life I really feel okay.
THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE, Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
My rejuvenated practice of mindfulness comes as the direct result of my EMDR therapist recommending The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. This self-help book made me realize that I am probably one of the most broken men ever to recover from PTSD. I didn’t just read this book, I studied it and made annotations. I became one with this book. So far I have written over six blogs directly influenced by the work of Dr. van der Kolk.
A Brief History of Trauma
My parents hated themselves and they hated each other. My parents modeled their hate for their children and so my siblings and I became hateful people. My parents hated their parents and then they hated their own children. My dad never went in to the Catholic Mass with us on Sundays. He just dropped us off and then went home to call his bookie and place his gambling bets for the week. When he came back to pick us up after Mass, he told us what hateful people we were.
My mom hated all of life so much that she never even learned how to drive a car. When my dad “had” to drive us to someplace important he would denigrate my mom. It was as if dad was blaming us for mom’s failure to perform her maternal duties. Driving us around town dad would angrily exclaim: “I have to drive you guys everywhere because your mother refuses to learn how to drive.” My parents taught us how to talk about other people behind their backs. Learning how to be a loud mouthed shit talking child got me into big trouble as an adult.
My mom and dad taught their kids to be shit talking back stabbers. They talked shit about everyone behind their backs. My mom denigrated her father for being an alcoholic even though grandpa sobered up before I was born. My maternal grandfather never drank during my lifetime but my mother constantly complained that he was an alcoholic.
I was a troubled child who became a troubled teenager. Then I was a troubled teenager who became a troubled adult. Finally I was a troubled adult who then became a troubled middle-aged man.
As an adult when I managed to string some sober time together, it was never good enough for mom. Nothing was ever good enough for my mother. My mom’s father and brother were alcoholics and so she married an alcoholic. My mom helped make me into an alcoholic. Complaining about the alcoholic men in her life was her comfort zone. I just assumed that I would never ever recover from my alcoholism.
Then my mom died relatively young and unexpectedly from breast cancer. I thought to myself, “Oh no, who will rescue me now?” I got fired from my long time paralegal job at Safeco Insurance Company. My wife left me and I had to sell my house. I went on a methamphetamine binge to fix up my house and sell it. Then, thirty days after my mom died, when I was at rock bottom, I checked myself into a rehab in Malibu. I was ready for rehab, even if the rehab was not ready for me. I recovered from my alcoholism at the ripe old age forty-seven. I was the most broken middle-aged man ever to recover from alcoholism and my life had to crash and burn all around me for it to happen.
My parents taught me that I was never good enough
When I celebrated my first year of sobriety my dad complained to me about the way in which I got sober. I had sold my former marital residence for a windfall profit. Dad thought it was wrong that I paid $16,500 cash out of pocket to go to the dual diagnosis treatment facility in Malibu. Even though I was sober, dad kept complaining about how I used my money to create a new life.
After I completed my successful treatment and finally recovered from a seemingly hopeless disease of mind and body, good things started happening for me. I ended up living on the beach in Malibu. It was still not good enough for dad. Dad spat out his opinion that he thought it was wrong for me to drive all the way from my home in Malibu to attend Primetime A.A. meetings in North Hollywood and West Los Angeles.
My mom had to die so that I could get sober and my dad had to die so that I could stay sober
I told my therapist that I was of the opinion that my mom had to pass away so that I could get sober. Then, ten years later, my dad had to pass away so that I could stay sober.
A Christmas Carol
My entire family is addicted to one drug or another. However I am the only one who admits that I am an alcoholic. I am the only self-identified sick person. Therefore I am the scapegoat. My dad and my siblings were jealous and resentful that I got sober and had a brand new life in Malibu.
I am the only one of my siblings who has attended every single Christmas meal at my parents home. My siblings and their children are all way more broken than I am and they each were only present sporadically on December 25th. My siblings hide their addictions by skipping holidays. I never did that, I just showed up inebriated.
Ten years after my mom died my Okie dad had a huge Christmas dinner and invited everyone except for me. I had ten years sober but that still wasn’t good enough. He kept me away by saying that there was not room for me to park at his hillbilly homestead in Tujunga. My drunken bastard nephew said that if I showed up on Christmas Day he would “have ten of his friends make my life miserable.”
So I went to Palm Springs to have my bisexual body made loved to by my gay friends. It was the first Christmas Day of my life that I had never been with my dad. He didn’t even call me. Three months later dad died unexpectedly at a shockingly young age for his bloodline.
My parents were not very supportive of me being the most broken man ever to recover from the mental illness that I inherited from them. And so they died young. My parents died twenty years younger than their own parents.
Thanks to my rejuvenated spirituality I was able to love and forgive my family. The 12 Steps teaches me that anger and resentment are no longer available to me. Anger and resentment will get me drunk. So I truly love and forgive my entire family. I don’t tell them about this love and forgiveness. I simply practice love for the entire planet. What I practice is more akin to Buddhist compassion for all sentient beings. In my meditation I practice oneness with the universe. A few days ago I was angry at un-vaccinated, un-masked people but not anymore. The shock of my dad dying made me break out in shingles and then have a near fatal heart attack. I am grateful to have woken up in bed with another human being to become the most broken man ever to recover from a heart attack.
Only by forgiving and loving my toxic family was I then able to fearlessly analyze my traumatic past
As a troubled adult with a major alcohol addiction, I once asked my dad what he thought was wrong with me. “I don’t know,” he replied, “you were such a happy go lucky kid.”
Now that I have been sober for seventeen years, doing trauma work and practicing mindfulness, it all comes back to me. When I was four years old I got hit in the head with a rock thrown by some older kids. When I was very young my mother used to tell my siblings and I about how badly her father treated her when she was a little girl. The next day she would be doing things like frightening the hell out of us with her new Halloween mask. When my sister and I were prepubescent my parents let a teenage boy babysit us. He sexually abused my sister and I because we were the oldest. That sister is a nervous, anxiety ridden wretch of a soul to this day.
It took a lot of therapy, work, and 12 Step meetings but I could be the most broken man ever to recover from childhood trauma and alcoholism.