Paradise Found

I’m on vacation with my dearest friends and our husbands. Four couples, tropical island, waterfront cottage and the most beautiful, soft air and skies and colors imaginable.

It is impossible to count the shades of blue here.

While it is a far cry from the bleak,  mid-winter weather we left back on the East Coast, our tropical weather has been quite chilly and windy. Unable to snorkel and swim, my friends and husband are spending lazy afternoons with rum drinks and wandering, light-hearted conversations.

It is fun to watch. Until the third or fourth round. Then it is just silly and slightly irritating. So I go for walks and try to count the shades of blue.

Alcohol is ever present in my life and I continue to learn to live around it.

Back at home, my family and I have been preparing an intervention for my sister, the “real alcoholic.” (You will remember that I just dabbled in alcoholism with my one bottle of unoaked Chardonnay a night and daily hangovers. My sister is the real deal.) We are working with a fantastic counselor who recommend Debra Jay‘s books on alcoholism and interventions. Debra is not interested in waiting around for an alcoholic to hit her bottom. She believes we can truly intervene and stop the destruction before it takes its natural course.

What I love about Debra’s approach is that it is so honest. Yes, it is true that you cannot change someone. But you can hold them accountable for their behavior and you can hold yourself to meaningful standards. You can surround yourself with like-minded people who want to see life as it truly is, not filtered through the fuzzy lens of enabling behavior and fear. But instead relishing in the clarity of vision and purpose that truly loving another human being demands of you.

One of the biggest surprises of the process has been just how many people -smart, talented, successful people – do not want to take off the fuzzy lenses. It took two years of persistent pushing before my parents would even look at my sister’s careening life for the shitshow that it is, let alone plan an intervention to address it.

As we put together the intervention team, it was challenging to come up with the right people. We needed a handful of friends and relatives who truly love my sister, even though she is a piece of shit addict.

This means you 1) have to admit that she is an addict (very difficult for lots of people, as my sister is “functioning” outside of her home); and 2) see past the abandoned or false relationships we all currently have with her to who is really is/was, before the alcohol and drugs took over (this is also very challenging, as there are so many legitimate hurts and grievances to nurture).

Another surprise of the counseling process has been the awareness of hurts and grievances that don’t have anything to do directly with my sister, but instead are family-of-origin issues that are long gone, but apparently not forgotten. My father spent 30+  years in Al-Anon, which resulted in his raising his children with a “Let It Go/Live and Let Live” parenting style. At times this seemed the perfect “learn by failing” approach and at other times bordered on neglect.

I will save my “Growing up Al-Anon” thoughts for another day/post, as my friends are all awake now, nursing their hangovers and planning another day in windy and beautiful paradise.

There truly is nothing better than waking up without a hangover. It is paradise every day. No matter my geographic location.