Each and every one of us represents God or Spirit revealing Itself here on our planet. Inventory all the people who were negative and/or destructive elements in your past, and search for ways that their actions might have been helpful events and attitudes that were just disguised as impediments to happiness. Abandonment, abuse and disloyalty can be painfully difficult and valuable teachers when you see yourself as having experienced them for a greater good. -Dr Wayne Dyer
I keep going back to this over and over again. This post has been molding and reshaping itself in my mind the past two months. In writing some of my post on my conditioning and the people who have influenced who I am, I have come to realize my grandpa Dreher has been a huge factor, that I am only recently more aware of its depths. Dr Dyer’s forgiveness of his father was a big part of his spiritual transformation. Growing up I would often write my grandpa off as a drunk, an alcoholic. Putting him in that box let me put him on a self of ‘things I probably won’t deal with later.’ But like Dyer points out, why would someone choose the life of an addict? Dyer’s father’s drinking problem, taught his son forgiveness. Is there not something to come then of a ‘troubled’ life? From grandpa I have learned, and continue to learn so much.
I haven’t drank in 2 1/2 years, except on my birthday last year. When I was 21 in my party girl mod I still had rules: don’t drink alone, don’t drink during the day, don’t drink when you’re emotional (things I associated with my grandpa’s binge drinkings and there come ons). I frequently get asked, why don’t you drink? Like I’m some kind of super willed being, to be looked at in awe. Wow, that’s really awesome I commend you, are some of the reactions I get (although I find people are always trying to test this, I swear I get offered more free drinks when I tell people I don’t drink then when I wore low cut tops trying to get someone to get drinks for me and my friends. There of course are several reasons for this, although the most popular response is that I’m trying to watch calories. Even though I take my health seriously, this has never been a factor in the sobriety equation. Honestly it is just easy now not to drink. More truths: I didn’t like myself when I was drinking, I was unhappy and unloving of myself, I didn’t like waking up with missing moments of the ‘good’ times with my friends, I didn’t like worrying about the stupid things I could have said or done. Thank goodness I never got hangovers or that would have definitely made this an impressive list. Plus now I am always available to drive my friends home, I jokingly consider myself to be a professional DD (and I have to say I’m pretty damn good. Patient and jovial I take care of my drunk friends as they do their best to put on a shit show, and I drive them through the Taco Bell line while they’re naked-don’t ask- in the backseat). I have learned that time is precious. It is one of the greatest gifts I possess. Drinking speeds up time, so why would I want to do something that speeds up or erases time? Why would you want to fast forward through the fun in your life? If I am going to be with my friends, I want to remember it. Do I mind if they drink or condone them for it? No, it’s just not something that I do. Now that I love myself and my mindset, I don’t need to drink to feel uninhibited, to have fun, or loosen up to ‘be myself’. This is me, the me I love, accept and respect.
Still there is more to this equation, my grandpa is a strong undercurrent to all of this. We all have our vices. Ways that we deal the challenges of life: shopping, sex, drugs, exercise, alcohol, food (my battle). What I learned in Cowan’s chapter on depression is that when we dwell too much on one emotion: despair, loathing, sadness, pity, anger; we don’t realize that we have several doors available to us. We just keep picking the same damn door #2 all the time. How are we going to come out of depression if we never reach for another door? If we never find 5 and its happiness? Some of the darkest moments in my life come from alcohol, but from darkness can come light. We’ve got to push through the tunnel. We can’t just sit on our ass and hop the joys of the world are going to find us lying in the dark. We have to seek them out.
#1: My grandpa died in an accident (rather as the result of an accident). He was drunk and hit another car on the highway less than a mile a 1/2 mile from our home. There had been signs leading up to this, opportunities to stop it: him driving through the garage wall on Christmas Eve, someone finding his car in the median and calling the police so that we were supposed to put him in classes. We’ll help him get better. Blank promises from my family, who did love him, but you thought they were loving and protecting him by not bringing up his problem or taking action. There was a lot of talk, but it all faded and never resulted in anything. Taking the easy route. We hid is keys, but somehow he found him that day. My brother was the one who found him. What that did to him I will never fully understand, but it has forever changed him (he rarely drinks as well). Dad always a leader took charge to check it, while I was to stay and make sure my mom didn’t go. I vividly remember standing in our yard, holding my sobbing, thrashing mother back. Finally she succumbed to hugging me. As I held her in our yard as shudders ran down her, I tried to absorb. To take all that pain onto to myself. I remember thinking: I hate him. For being selfish. Because he killed someone else, not giving a damn if he had killed himself. Because he didn’t think of the consequences of his drinking in self pity. That I was there, holding my mother pack. That she was hurting so much. I was ready for him to die there, but he didn’t and I didn’t realize that I needed more time. Standing by his bedside with Jenna, Cliff and Grandma, seeing him. To see my grandpa. He was no longer the drunk. He was the sensitive man with the grand white hair, who in that moment was vulnerable and ashamed. He would never have wanted us to see this, to see his hurt (I guess in a way addictions cover up and mask our pain). Just like that the alcohol labeled box I had stored crumpled, my vision was clear and a real image of my grandpa came. The one with the luminous personality, who honestly never met a stranger (no joke we could be in Disney and here ‘Charlie Dreher?’), dressed to the tee. Able to pull off a burgundy blazer and pink long before any man tried. Who cleaned incessantly, would make up a song about you in an instance, even though he was terrible with names (I was always Angelica). Who puffed up with unbelievable pride when he talked about his family. How wrong had I been? In trying to protect myself, I judged him and wrote him off. I wasn’t trying to make him or me better. We all face challenges and sometimes the darkness swallows us, but we can’t judge others on how they fight to see the light. And my grandpa did fight, months of sobriety before falling to weeks of drinking. Fading in and out.
#2: Part of the reason I stopped drinking was to prove I could. That it didn’t have a hold on me. I believed the statistics that alcoholism runs in families and I was hell bent on proving that this stat didn’t apply to me. Last summer my Dad confronted my mom about her drinking (granted the approach was maybe a little off, but things happen for a reason and this had to happen). She felt attacked, he struck a cord on something she knew was not letting her live up to her highest self. I know that when I fight with Dad it is because he makes me see that I’m not living up to myself and sometimes this kind of enlightenment can initially make us react: to feel fear, to take it personally, to strike back, to crumple. That’s how my mother deals, and she’ll tell you. She reacts, thinks about it, and then she learns from it. At that moment though she was hurt and shutting down. So even though I was dealing with my frantic siblings, I couldn’t get a hold of the one person I had to see. Eventually I get a text response that she doesn’t want to talk, and only after promising that I won’t say a word does she disclose her location. I arrive at home to find my mother in a sleeping bag, with her CD of The Mastery of Love (yet another reason to love my mom), utterly drained from crying in the bed of their truck. Soundlessly I crawl into the truck and curl up next to her, gazing at the stars, while the CD drones on in the background. This is my role, that little voice in my head that tells me that I am the perfect piece to be there. Not Amanda or Cliff or Dad, but me. I held her for who knows how long, as we quietly let tears stream down our face changing energies as I tried to pass my love onto her, while I again tried to take away her pain. Eventually walking away felt like little bits of my heart were tearing. That the infrastructure of my life and the solidity of my parents that I had always known was quickly crumbling. The tension where no one was speaking, left me reeling. Scared, where is my life going? This is all I have ever known, where would I go from here? The great thing about this generation is that we have seen my grandpa, we are different. We are here to make each other better, no matter how hard or discomforting it is. Gradually the foundation begins to reconstruct.
#3: A pause in the construction of our new and improved house: January 2012 Super Bowl Saturday in Indianapolis with my mom. I know that for a long time my mom hadn’t had a drink, but the week previous to this I had found some tiny tequila bottles, and as we arrived in Indy I saw her pour some into her drink. Deep inhalation. There is that voice again directing me: you Brittany have to talk to her-today. Again not Dad or Amanda, you are the one. Was it hard? Of course it was! Easy is what I’d seen done all my life with my grandpa. It would have been easy to ignore or let someone do. To put it off and hope it goes away. It’s that going beyond comfort. Of fighting the discomfort of confronting my mom, because I want to help her be better. Because I love her. Because I’ve learned that I’ve got to stop letting fear take over, so that I don’t do anything. I had to light the fire, to bring her to the dark, to keep the dark from dragging her under. Face discomfort head on and fearlessly so that you can triumph. What I was dreading, actually turned into an effortless conversation. One where we were able to be completely honest, to talk about addiction. At the end of it, I knew that I was right in listening to myself.
This happened (although maybe not directly-we are responsible for our own action and the person we are) because of my grandpa the ‘drunk’. Allowing the next generation to be better. I look at the changes in my brother, in my mom situations. I look at my cousin Trevor: so much loss. He lost his sister in a drunk driving accident, grandpa and most recently his mom (a great woman who wasn’t a stranger to tragedy and loss too) from cancer. Trevor had been on the same paths- DUI’s and so on, but when I see Trevor today I see a different man. Someone who is happy (in love?). Someone who is getting ready to move in with his unbelievably sweet girlfriend, he’s working and going to school. He may not be saintly all the time, but who is. He is headed toward happiness and the great potential that I’ve always seen him. This is just some of the impact, but my grandpa has changed us all in different ways. and so I have learned that we have the power to effect everyone, good or bad we’re here for a reason. We always have a choice, too. Thank you grandpa. For my sobriety, for mom’s sobriety, for teaching me to push past discomfort, to strive to live without judgement, and to love myself. I love you for the man you are and carry you with me always.
BE, Love, Illuminate,
Afterthought: I’d just like to say this is probably one of my favorite pieces. If not for the raw honesty and tackling something that we (even my family) don’t talk about. Because this is real. So often we try to convey and show the us that we think need to project. Our perfect lives to be envied. Even though people may look at me and see a smiling pink haired girl chattering on about radiating love and, I am no stranger to challenges and darkness. But I know that the choices I make can make me stronger or drag me under. The brightest lights in my life have come from the darkest patches in my life. I am grateful for these events and people who have brought me to my current mindset. So fight or surrender, we always have a chose and we are all valuable for the lessons we can teach.