Though I stumble, I will not fall

7 10 2009

It has been about a week since I posted last, not because I’ve forgotten and didn’t want to, but my husband was out of town and of course the first thing that happens when he goes out of town, our modem that we’ve had for 4years goes out, so no internet at the house. It takes a while to post something I think is worth talking about, so while I was able to run out several times and use the internet at the office, Barnes and Noble, and even Tom Thumb has free wifi!, I was unable to gather together enough internet minutes and mind power to post. But today I am forcing myself to post in public, because my little sister sent me an encouraging text message.

So, I had this great epiphany on Monday. It may not seem like much to you, but for me this is freedom. I went to Al-anon Monday morning and we read a brochure on despair. In it, it describes the alcoholic as being “sensitive and emotionally immature, excessive in their demands on themselves as well as on others. When they fail to live up to their own standards, they escape from reality by drinking. The habit of escape through alcohol leads to obsessive drinking, a compulsion so powerful that not even the threat of death or insanity seems to break it. One drink sets up an uncontrollable craving that only more drinking can appease.”

I realize now, that I might as well have been an alcoholic, my characteristics and behavioral patterns are the same. I forced myself to never drink in excess, because I’ve always been aware of my father’s addiction. But I didn’t know that even without drinking, I could act the same way.  When the lady who read that aloud spoke on that passage, she was filled with compassion and love and spoke of loving the person and hating the disease. This too, is something I have always heard in church, love the sinner, hate the sin, but I always pinned that on my dad. I have no problem loving him despite his alcoholism. I hate the stupid stuff that he does sometimes, and the immature ways that he acts, but I have a great deal of sorrow and compassion for his disease that he cannot control which allows me to still love him and forgive him.

All this time, I have spent having compassion for his disease, I never had compassion for my own. Or my mothers. When I heard the love in that woman’s voice, the way she was able to look past the disease and strengthen her own life, while still loving the alcoholic, it was an extremely powerful release for me. It was like I saw God, and the way he looks at me, as “sensitive and emotionally immature” as I am. He sees me and hates that I am going through this, that I can spend so many days and weeks in despair and self-hatred and try to escape with food, and internet distractions, and reading and numerous other things that never fill the hole. He sees that my life can be so much better, but he doesn’t look at me and say, “That bitch. Just wasted twenty eight years of the life that I gave her. I will smite her because she doesn’t even respect the gifts I have given her. Life was wasted on her.”

He looks at me the same way that I look at my dad. I am really so sad that he will have to look back on his life and realize that he wasn’t there to watch his son grow up. That he was working or drunk most of his daughters’ childhood. That he never got to heal from his own childhood. I love him and it grieves my heart that he will probably never be able to understand how many people did love him  that he pushed away. How we all still love him. How my mom still fasts for his healing, how even though we don’t talk much because he has a different life we all still think of him and pray for him. How he will never be able to accept that as truth, because in his head nobody loves him, nobody will ever be able to love him because the two people who were supposed to love him the most in the world weren’t able to, so how could anyone else?

I could tell you without a doubt that his way of thinking is wrong. Alot of people love him and care for him and will always. But I always thought that if my mother had been more compassionate, more loving, more of EVERYTHING she could have changed him. She wasn’t an alcoholic, what is her excuse? I took this way of thinking with me when I left home. Thinking that I was going to be everything she wasn’t. I would conquer alcoholism, not let it in my life and be healed. I would be the perfect wife and mother and everything she wasn’t because it was her fault that my dad never got healed. When I realized that she wasn’t going to fix him,  I transferred these hugely “excessive demands” from my mother to myself thinking at least when I grew up I wasn’t going to be like this.

When I “failed to live up to” my own standards I began to escape from reality. I have always had a problem with weight and eating, and I spent my whole childhood buried in a book. While it just looked like I was a smart kid who loved to read, I loved to read because I just wanted to go away from my life, where I had no expectations, no disappointments where I didn’t exist. My drug of choice has manifested itself in different ways over the years, but it’s always the same. I don’t work on my life because I feel better just not existing. I don’t want to be me. Me is not good enough. I was not good enough for my mother to love me. For my father to stop drinking. Then the disappointments mount up, not finishing school, not becoming the things everyone told me I would become, being depressed all the time. Not being able to function in everyday life. Not being able to keep a clean house, happy dogs, have tons of money. All the things I could have been and am not stare me in the face everyday. It is hopeless, so why work on it. God already sees me as a complete failure.

I recognize this viewpoint as a tool that I allow the enemy to use on my over and over again to keep me from moving forward. The TRUTH: GOD does not see me as a failure. HE looks on me with LOVE and COMPASSION and as a WORK IN PROGRESS. HE does not see the mountain of failures I somehow think I have to climb to get to the other side. HE sees a big chasm that he wants to fill with HIS LOVE and GRACE so that I am able to walk across in freedom with complete confidence and ease. Everyday it is going to be a new choice to wallow in the mountain of despair or step forward in faith that there is enough grace to sustain me, that I will not fall. Psalm: 37:23-24 “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

I forgave my mother this week for not being able to change my father. I apologized to her for never realizing that I blamed her so much, and that she never had the power to begin with. Only God can sustain him, NOT my mother. More importantly, I forgave myself for not being able to change a damn thing. I encourage you to walk in faith today and have courage that you will not fall.