One single tear rides over my left cheek as I peer down the path to the chapel where my brother David lay in his coffin awaiting the final goodbye. I’m leaning against the western orange-brick wall of my Year One Classroom during recess whilst other children play noisily their games of childhood and joviality.
The next day at the funeral, Dad says, “It’s time to be the men of the house now, Mike.” and they take the dead brother away and my screams fall to deaf ears to be allowed to go to the burial ground with my late mate.
Though the next 12 years go by without much memory, there were nephews and nieces to replace the lost baby, but also to focus attention away from me. ‘I’ll be alright’. I had my sport and academia and I loved playing imaginary squash with a balloon on the bedroom wall. I once twined a basketball net out of coloured string to play in the backyard and I could shoot soccer goals easily without a keeper to get in the way.
Seeing I was the man of the house, I wondered what that entailed and became the surrogate husband for my bereaving Mother. Dad was busy working and drinking, so she and I learned to predict horse races and watch John Wayne movies and musicals on Sundays. Visiting Nana and Grandfather, who had separated before I remember, was always a difficult treat to manoeuvre. And I could always gain Dad’s approval by mowing the lawn and going to Mass while he was at the pub.
“Oh, how proud he’ll be!”
The school marks were never quite adequate even though I was awarded Maths and English trophies at my new Boy’s Marist College. The school gave me an example of holy men who were far from pious and the sports clubs showed me how drunkenness and misogyny and manliness are entwined.
When I failed to live up to my earlier potential, women and booze beckoned and I renounced the Church and joined the Crowd in debauchery and procreation. In desperation, I found purpose and direction at University for a while and then plunged dutifully into parenthood, Commerce and heavy drinking.
The jobs came and went, but my wife just went (with the Golden Child) and jobs careered from one to the next until I met a top Real Estate Agent one day in my taxi and she asked me to join their team.
It fanned my commercial desires and my drinking until it ended in bankruptcy.
Drinking seamed the only balm in the cruelty of ‘Life’. The spiritual life was replaced by the ‘Spirit of the Life’.
When the Real Estate business and a further concord were both lost, with the increasing heartbreak of more children let down, the Spirit of Life takes hold and sends him to the brink.
Commerce. The family, along with the pleasure of Drinking, are completely annihilated until one day, a fellow traveller with golden hair and simpatico leads me to the Group – Alcoholics Anonymous.
I found their ways unpalatable but fascinating whilst drinking myself ever closer to the edge.
Sister Golden Hair Delight left me at the door of the Group and continued on her drinking way, but this time the god I had forgotten interceded and I was given a new nugget – a direct audience with the Mentor.
With renewed vigour and hope I threw myself into battle with the tools of war given me by the comrades that I had met and God’s Power. Then, euphoric with God’s grace, I renewed my education/maturation with a passion and devoured the elixir of new life. In ecstatic ignorance, I wallowed in wonder and spent the next ten years reading and meditating on God’s grace whilst extinguishing the demon drink.
Now, a decade after the last drink, I am sharing my story.
I believe there are a few similarities between all addicts as well as most other people in varying shades of grey.
And there are a zillion different variations on the general theme.
It is my endeavour and personal quest to share what I have found, in the hope and belief that someone, and perhaps many, will benefit in the writing down of this chapter, either through personal development or in social intercourse.
Throughout my writing, if you care to stay with me there are lots of references to other authors that have made an impression on me. There are no definitive God-answers here – rather a place where we can question each other and hold each other whilst we think together.
Originally published at dharmaholic.com