Skeletons in the Closet
November 18, 2006

In Why 67 & Counting I said that there were two life-changing questions I asked in CCD the year that I informed my mother that Dad was an alcoholic. The first resulted in my going to Alateen.

After Mom got over the shock of my pronouncement of the obvious, she was horrified that I'd told my CCD teacher and after that first trip to Alateen, Mom insisted on driving me and waiting for me in the parking lot. Never mind the Al-Anon meetings for spouses and the like took place at the same time as Alateen. Mom was not looking to talk to anyone, thank you very much.

The day after I'd been that first time, when she let me know that she'd be taking me from now on ... she said something very very curious. "I can trust you to go, because you won't tell any of the family secrets. I can't trust your sister to go. She'd tell everything."

I'm sure I don't have the words exactly, perfectly correct ... but that was the gist.

I felt a nasty, cold, terrified feeling in the pit of my stomach at those words. The roar of rushing blood was back in my ears. And to be honest, I felt a little bit dizzy.

I was going to Alateen to talk about Dad being an alcoholic. Wasn't that the family secret?

For a brief moment, my mind flashed to a box that I'd once discovered in Dad's side of Mom and Dad's closet while looking for Christmas presents one year. It was a long and deep cardboard box for storing blankets or something. I thought that was a good place to start looking for presents. I pulled a chair into the closet and lifted the box down, stunned at how heavy it was. Obviously there weren't just blankets in this box. I lifted the lid ....

And my mind snapped back to the present, Mom telling me that we'd leave at 6:45 and that we'd not be telling Dad or my sister where we were going.

Over the course of the next few months, I went regularly to Alateen. The facilitators were great ... the kids were cool. I wanted to fit in, but I found that most of the time I simply couldn't talk. I was stunned by how many of the others were also alcoholics. And more often than not, they tended to talk about their own struggles with alcohol more than how they dealt with their parent(s).

And, there was the weekly struggle with Mom. "Do you really need to go again?" "Do we have to do this every week?" and the particularly disturbing "What do you tell them, anyway? You're not telling any of our secrets?"

That question gave me the cold pit in my stomach every single time ... as it was supposed to.

Finally, the benefit I might be getting from the program was far, far out-weighed by the struggle it took to get there every week. Much to Mom's delight, I finally told her one night that I was tired of listening to the other kids talk about their own alcohol issues and that I didn't want to go anymore. She was not only ecstatic, but she tried to tell me that our family didn't really have any problems and that Dad's alcoholism was just "not that bad." I didn't say anything. It was that bad. But that was an argument not worth having with her then. I let it drop.

So ... asking about how to deal with an alcoholic parent was one of the two questions I asked in CCD that year. I'll post about the second life-altering question tomorrow.

Same Bat-time ... same Bat-channel ... same batty me. comments/what.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at November 18, 2006 9:33 AM | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


MsDemmie said:

Now you have me on the edge of my seat!

November 18, 2006 12:38 PM


Red said:

Another good post. I am glad to see you getting some of this out and not letting fester. Keep up the good work!

November 18, 2006 6:14 PM


mike said:

It sounds like your mother' (for a lack of a better way to put it) probably played a role in how much you were willing to share at the meetings. It almost seems as though it was an effort to smother you in her denial.

Red Monkey said: Oh yes ... most definitely. Most definitely.
November 18, 2006 9:46 PM


Smash said:

By saying that your sister would "tell everything" was your mother trying to say that you were moe astute than your sister? Or less? It's something I didn't quite get. Great entry though endy *huge hugz* Travvyxxx

November 20, 2006 12:08 PM
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