I’ve been on Step Four in Life Recovery at Grace Christian Fellowship for a couple months now. This is life-changing. I am grateful to be in continual gratitude, as I began to last September when I was living in a gazebo of a Muslim friend, because of my companion dog. I was fortunate to be able to use his beautiful kitchen along with his renters, and take showers, wash clothing. Enjoy community, with sweet young men and visiting women–wives and mothers of Zyad’s friends. Experience the graciousness of family, the good manners of men who asseembled for tea, not beers, and conversations with one another over family, business, politics. I encouraged them to take interest in the 2016 election process, gifting the more intellectual one a tiny copy of The Constitution of The United States. We debated the pros and cons of the candidates. I took two, Mo and Abe, to my Christian Fellowship with the idea of expansiveness to other points of view. They enjoyed it very much, though I had to pull their teeth to get them there. I said, you have explained so much to me of your religion. Come, have a quick look at our practices. And they did. They were effusive about Mark Domsic’s music ministry, and strangely to me, they knew a bit about Christ. And thought the message on-point and accessible.
I had arrived on the 6th of July with my leg in a cast. Unable to reach him by phone (his messages were always filled up) I recalled that he kept texting me and saying he would help me. I needed help.
For once, we were even. We were both on crutches, laughing and grinning. He for much of a lifetime after a soccer accident rendered him suddenly crippled; me, since a tendon replacement after a slip-and-fall 13 months ago which has so far impeded every step I take, with 24/7 pain in more left-ankle tendons that ever post-surgery, and 24/7 sciatica in the right leg.
“I am sorry, I could not get through on your cell. I have nowhere to stay. Can I park in your driveway and stay in my car?”
“Of course you can stay here.” He invites me in to tea; fresh mint leaves from his butter container in the fridge, a sweet black tea made with boiling water in the impeccable kitchen. Teapot with glasses on a platter, honey, sugar, milk, some figs, some baklava. “What has happened to you? You were visiting your brother and nephew in Michigan last week when we texted.”
“Yes.” A new black-and-white PTSD clip plays fast-forward of brother Scott’s antics, accusations, control mechanisms. I didn’t know how far his addictions had gone; how gone he was from his former self with a good sense of humour, and our parents’ lovingkindness. Anger spewed towrd me, after spewing toward his son, and increasingly toward me again as I bonded once again with Andrew and his lady, who lived two doors down from him to watch over him. Despite his abuses.
Brother Scott telling me he had four concussions in high school in the football field before that,and Coach had him play through the games. I had a light bulb go off, as I never understood his lack of intellectual or emotional or social development, considering his education and early abilities. He was a lady-killer physically, that dark 6’4″ Apollo, even taking the breath away of my 5 years-younger girlfriends in high school, and my mother’s co-workers at Sears and Roebuck credit department. And I must confess, once at an enormous family wedding, so far in the distance I did not know him, I was also rendered breathless by a man’s beauty and physical grace in way way I have never experienced before or since. We know about It Girls: they have it all. He was an It Guy.
Of his inability to thrive, be anything but resentful that his pitching a no-hitter at seventeen for a city league where he pitched his arm out because Coach wasn’t there to stop him, back when they didn’t count pitches, caused his arm to falter by the time he went to college. Benched without a uniform at Michigan State, when he had turned down various Big 10 scholarships, including there, for quarterback. I’ll think of his addictions starting then, when our parents were also divorcing and two older brothers quit college to join the Navy: sex, cannabis, eventually alchohol, eventually verbal violence, physical violence, rage, selling cocaine, cheating on his wife on the day his second son was being born. Neglecting his son Andrew, who would become an addict, too. Neglecting ou mother five minutes away. Taking the money I sent her monthly to the racetrack.
Andrew who said, “Aunt Marie I always wonder how it would have been if my Dad had let me go with you to Baltimore that summer to learn how to read when I was 14. If I wouldn’t have become an addict.”
Can you feel my judgement and resentment? I can. I’m working on all of it, a lifetime of never being angry when run over, and never, with my family of origin, being allowed–or at least finding others threw up obstacles–to be the advocate I can for others who don’t know me.
I’m working on it. Anger, unexpressed by those of us who read Miss Manners at age 9, becomes resentment. That’s Step Four. I’ve a long list I didn’t see before of resentments.
Doing the 12 Steps for Co-dependence and for DA is the most important work I can do, right here, right now. At DA I’m learning how to be financially accountable every single day, and keep business accounts and personal separate, so I can thrive again, and never leave the financial piece to others who can harm me.
Stay tuned, and I’ll tell you a couple stories about the journey. And happy trails to you.