You might say I’m one of the lucky ones. But, then again, if I weren’t you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Whereas my teenage life was difficult, it was not ruinous as it is for so many. My father gave up drinking a fifth of vodka per day after a car accident left him with a broken leg in multiple places. His heal bone was also shattered. He wasn’t drunk at the time of the accident, ironically, nor even under the influence of alcohol, yet it was this accident that caused his sobriety. His story illustrates a good point – life has a way of unfolding in ways you least expect.
It wasn’t clear that my father would be able to walk again. His string of surgeries kept him hospitalized for six months and his hip high cast kept him out of work for almost two years. You might think it was the six months of unwilled sobriety that broke his addiction but there is more. My grandfather, his father, never did achieve sobriety. His story of intermittent periods of drunkenness over the course of his whole life is perhaps more common, and he too suffered his share of accidents. Most were alcohol related.
I was seven years old at the time, but I remember. One time he left me in the car while he went into a tavern for a drink, only the emergency brake was slipping and the car was periodically rolling, jerking to a stop, rolling again. A man opened the door and jammed it down harder. I was scared and told my dad when he came out. He didn’t seem concerned but, then again, he had just had a few drinks.
I also remember visiting him in the hospital over those six months. I remember my mom keeping a butcher knife between her mattress and box spring. I also remember my dad telling of the event that changed everything. It was one night when he called out to God. He said he was in agony and could no longer endure the pain, so he told God he would quit drinking if God stopped the pain. The pain stopped. My dad quit drinking. Miracles aren’t the kind of thing easily believed. It is my dad’s testimony, though. There are many who testify to God’s intervention during their most difficult moments. Or, perhaps these moments are what it takes to make people call out.
My father joined Alcoholics Anonymous after he pulled through. Recovery groups like AA, Celebrate Recovery, and others have proven invaluable to many families. My mother joined Al-Anon, and about eight years after my dad’s accident I joined Alateen. Why? This is one of the hallmarks of alcoholism. It doesn’t stop when the drinking stops. The emotional damage it wreaks on families requires years for recovery.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Not only did my father stop drinking and find AA, he did so in time. Most of my neighborhood friends never made it through high school, dropping out after turning to alcohol or drugs themselves. This is one of the classic statistical observations. Addictions have generational consequences. I went to college and then on to graduate school. My children grew up in a financially stable home, a home committed to the Lord. Breaking addictions has far reaching effects.
Thank you for reading. Tom and I wish to inspire readers to call out to God for help, and to trust that in the long run you’ll be better off for having done so.