Families are made up of imperfect beings, but it is wonderful to realize that these differences make us unique. The best thing is to forgive. We can all fall, the important thing is to get up. ”
The most beautiful memories that my best friend Sonia had of her father are, when as a child, every Sunday, without fail, she would take her to the cinema matinee. I bought her peanuts and candy; but the greatest gift was the time he gave her those days. So her father, for her, was the most handsome, perfect and sweet man that had ever lived.
Then things changed, his father began to drink more and more. They lived very difficult moments as a family. One of the saddest, which I witnessed, was the day he began to look at his father in a different way; we were both thirteen years old.
Her father came to my friend Sonia’s house quite dazed by alcohol. She sat down at the table ready to eat something. Then she looked at her left hand. She had a watch that was not her and of much less value. She got up from the table quickly heading for the exit. Sonia’s mother tried to stop him, but to no avail; he was determined to get his watch back.
A few hours passed. Her mother was very nervous. I was crying. “Find him, please,” he asked us. My friend and I walked through many streets looking for him. We found him lying on the sidewalk. We never knew if she had been hit, or if she had fallen because of her condition. He didn’t remember it. Of course, he never got the watch back.
That day the image that Sonia had always had of her father began to change. He was no longer the powerful and invincible man of his childhood. He became a man dejected by alcoholism. Love did not change, but confusion gripped his adolescence.
Many years later his admiration for his father returned. But this admiration was no longer that of a girl who sees her father as a superhero, but that of an adult woman who admires a great man who knew how to overcome all his mistakes, ask for forgiveness and overcome his alcoholism. A man who knew how to win the love and respect of his grandchildren.
The unfortunate thing was that alcohol had already taken a toll on his health. Cirrhosis of the liver won the battle a few years ago. Even now, Sonia feels guilty thinking that perhaps she could have done something else for him. But she was just a teenager who knew little or nothing about the disease.
Most of the adolescents who go through a situation of this magnitude, what they need most, in addition to support, is information.
There is an association called Al-anon which is a similar association to Alcoholics Anonymous. This association is interested in helping the relatives of a person who has problems with their drinking.
There are four categories of alcoholics
1. Heavy drinkers. They are people who maybe drink a little but daily, or who only do it occasionally but in very large quantities. They are likely to find it ridiculous to be called alcoholics; however, they are treading a line where they can stop drinking or lose control of their lives altogether.
2. Those who have lost control, and they know it. They feel there is a problem, they ask for forgiveness the next day and they make up their minds not to do it again. Dog as soon as they feel good, they do it again. At this stage they still have no problems at work.
3. Those who crossed a new line. These drinkers already have problems with their work, with their family, and with their friends. The feeling that dominates them is the pity for themselves.
4. In this last stage the alcoholic is often violent and the most likely is that he is thinking or has had to be admitted to an institution. They suffer from alcoholic hallucinations. When they drink they seem lean. But even at this stage recovery is possible.
And so what can a child or family member of an alcoholic do at any stage?
1. Recognize the problem and research programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
2. Seek support. You need to break the silence and tell a counselor or teacher what is happening to you. An adult who can guide you in this situation.
3. Recognize that the decision to recover is personal, they need the support of the family, but in reality, it is they who have to decide to recover. Sometimes the patient needs to know that he has lost everything, to hit rock bottom and realize that he needs to help himself to be able to recover those he loves.
4. Accept that the only person who can put an end to this situation is the sick person. You are not responsible for their behavior.
5. Understand that in the recovery stage the patient has a duty to himself and will be so focused on recovering that he may become selfish.
Forgive. That is the only way to heal wounds. Regardless of whether he or she decided to recover or not. The best thing to do is forgive that person and let go of all the accumulated resentment.
7. Stop the cycle. Children of alcoholic parents generally choose two behaviors: they don’t drink, or they drink too much.
8. Go back to admire. According to the psychologist Trinidad Ochoa, “It is beautiful that the childish and often fanciful admiration for our parents is recovered in adulthood, from a more objective perspective, based on what people really are.”
In the last years of her life, Sonia’s father became a symbol of pride for her. The difficult moments were overcome. The advice was many, after the lessons learned. But in the end, what she kept in her heart was the union of two souls who, on a different plane, in front of God, will embrace without resentment.