Update on Horatio – March – Hope

There was an incident at home that prompts attention before hope appears. Horatio has been staying at my father’s house more days than not. This is good for two reasons; he isn’t allowed to drink there and it provides a way to watch his binges. When he disappears to his house for two days and comes back bleary eyed, we know what he was doing. Horatio isn’t as devious as he thinks. Or is it that he has determined we’re oblivious?

A couple of weeks ago he came strolling back to my father’s house after one of his two day vacations. Still drunk from the binge, he attempted to make breakfast for my father. Clearly he was intoxicated, but my father did not reprimand this behavior. Instead, he quietly ate the half burnt/half runny “scrambled eggs.”

I couldn’t understand his rationale for disregarding Horatio’s state of inebriation. After discussing it with him, the only explanation is that he was at a loss for words at that moment and didn’t know how to react. In hindsight, he knew he shouldn’t have tolerated what happened.

The next day, when Horatio sobered up, my father didn’t hold back in giving him a verbal lashing. I arrived home a few days later, at which time Horatio and I discussed the event. He didn’t deny any of his behavior because he had already been confronted about it. This allowed for an open and honest talk about alcohol.

At the end of the conversation, I made sure that the ground rules were reiterated. There would be absolutely no alcohol in my father’s house. This includes any alcohol in his blood. He will not be tolerated and will not be allowed to stay if his BAC is greater than 0.00. If this means he must sleep in his car outside of the house, then so be it.

At the end of the conversation, my siblings began showing up. The evening would be filled with fun loving childish games as our 7 year old nephew tugged on our arm to get us to play soccer and launch rockets high in to the sky.

The weekend continued this way with museums, kite flying and such. As we were all interacting I was noticing something that I hadn’t seen in a while. As I watched Horatio, I could see a little spark of fire in him. The light had been smothered by alcohol for the past decade, but it was flickering and gaining strength in front of my eyes. The more that Horatio let himself go and enjoyed being with people, the less he thought about his addiction.

It brought me hope that Horatio would one day overcome his lustful relationship with alcohol. It’s obvious that he enjoys being sober more than laying on his couch unconscious. There are many more relapses in his future. He is fighting something that is greater than him at this current time. It will be a remarkable day when he is able to harness and kindle that motivating factor that I have seen in so many of you that I follow. The entity that is defeating him will be overcome by his strength, igniting a lifelong abstinence from alcohol.

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25 comments
  1. I don’t know if you or your father have attended an al-anon meeting yet, but I highly recommend it as a means of support. I sure am rooting for your brother. Addiction is heartbreaking, but of course there’s always hope.

    • That’s a really good idea. I’ll be home for a week next week. I’ll convince him to go then.

  2. tom said:

    the spark of fire is one I can relate to. I felt it after my first run shortly after sobering up. It is a fire that keeps growing for me. Keep the faith that Horatio will feel the warmth of that fire and start to enjoy it. I went through life thinking the world was against me but have since found out the world truly is a magnificent place. Stay Strong.

    • I really appreciate your comment, especially the last two sentences about realizing the world is a magnificent place.
      Thank you for your words.

  3. Oh honey, i pray (in my way) that Horatio will let go of alcohol. If only it were that easy. I take it he’s not interested in treatment? I respect ANYONE’S attempt at sobriety. It’s all good. I try not to judge anyone with an addiction … but i worry so much. No two paths are alike on the way to abstinence. Recovery can pop up in small doses, and it is great to see. It is hard to sustain when alcohol “calls”. This is VERY hard on the family. It’s almost harder to see a little “spark” then drenched by a binge. Praying. This is good news though.

    ByeByeBeer has a great idea … with AlAnon. At least your pop can get some help, and not be trapped by H’s behaviors. There’s nothing he can do but STAND HIS GROUND about the drinking rules, right? Faith and Hope to you and yours. m

    • I’m sorry it’s taken so long to reply. I recently moved and there has been a lot of changes that haven’t accommodated being able to read your wonderful words.

      You’re right, he isn’t interested in treatment. Rather, when I gauge his motivation to remain abstinent, it’s obvious that he isn’t ready to invest the strength and energy required to make the long term change that are necessary. I continually let him know that when he is ready, we will move to the next step together.

      You’re right that recovery shows itself in small doses and it’s great to see it. The light produced by these sparks fights the darkness that is relapse. It’s hard to swallow the thought that he will be back to the bottle soon enough, but the flicker reminds us why we love him and why we want to help him.

      I hope you’re doing well. I know you’ve been going through a lot recently and I think about you often despite my lack of presence here.

  4. It is so hard for the family of an alcoholic to take care of themselves and help the alcoholic. Al Anon is certainly one good way to do this. But I know it is hard for people to accept their powerlessness over alcohol and alcoholism. We believe if we say the ‘right thing’ at the ‘right time’ in the ‘right way’ our alcoholic will hear us and react appropriately and recover.

    Such a dream. We are not that powerful. Your poor brother will need to hurt until he can’t stand the pain before he will reach out for help. And the heartbreaking piece for the family is that we see this spark of fire and it stokes our hope – and then they’re dashed again.

    take care of yourself, my friend. this is hard slugging. It is important to hold the faith without getting sucked into it. for getting into the hope is to drown. Ironic, isn’t it? we must maintain hope and faith but not go into either of them too deeply – for in that hole lies harm to us and the alcoholic.

    be well and thanks for the update.

    • Louise,

      I’m sorry for the delay in response, life has not allowed me the joys of reading your work lately.

      I always enjoy your words. It might be because we have similar backgrounds, thus we appreciate the same view points on such topics as family and friends. When you write that he “will need to hurt until he can’t stand the pain before he will reach out for help,” I can’t agree with you more. I am waiting patiently for that day that he will finally say, I give up. In the mean time, I try to teach my family as well as myself not to beat ourselves up over the things that we have no control over.

      Thanks again for your insightful words!

      • not to worry about replying – i know you are busy. take care of you. hugs

        • I know you are busy too. I’m glad to see that you’re able to keep up with posting on your blog as well as everything else that life has to present. I hope you take care of you too :-)

  5. nnkato said:

    Your relationship with your brother blows me away. In a good way. In a how did he get to this state kind of way, from all the love and support that seems to surround him. As you know, I too struggle with the call of alcohol. Besides all the other great advice given, would he be able to manage 3 months sober? Psychologically, it’s easier than saying for ever. Some where in this blogosphere, I heard about HelloSundayMorning.org. It’s worth a gander.

    • I’m sorry for the delay in responding. Life has not been conducive to letting me read your blog and amazing comments.

      I do know your struggles and I think you are incredibly strong. I continually find interesting nuggets of knowledge and advice from your blog. I hope you continue to inspire people like myself.

      Thank you so much for the link. It preaches the truth: alcohol is the culture that we have accepted; you don’t need alcohol to be confident; you don’t need alcohol to be yourself

  6. This is amazing. I can speak from experience. That flame deep down never goes away. But, when we get sober, when I got sober, I thought it would ignite large and huge, and feel so good. I was disappointed, and scared, to discover that my first 2 years of sobriety were a living hell. And a living heaven. All at once. Your belief in him will give him a quiet push to keep going. Take care of yourself, too, as I know you will. Because that is all we can really “do” while hoping that someone we love will ignite their flame to live.
    The Cockroach

    • I’m sorry for the huge delay in responding. I’ve been missing your blog and have thought of you often.

      Your comment here is perfect. I have been concerned that the flame will not be as incredible as I hope, and there will be questions of its sustainability. With the less than large flame, there will inevitably be times that we well doubt its ability to stay lit, particularly through the darkest of times.

      Your words bring me hope. I’m sure that you’ve been doing well and I look forward to catching up on your blog.

      • Thank you, I have been absent for a week myself! After a heavy duty EMDR session that I have yet to write about…hope all continues to be well. Slow quiet blow on the flame…. :) TC

  7. As I sit here at work reading this post my eyes are filling up with tears. Particularily reading about the spark that you discovered… your brother is in there… but he’s held hostage by the alcohol. It is so horrible… it reminds me when I too noticed my spark of life. I had given up, I saw no hope and thought this is it. I’m hooked on alcohol forever, my only choice if I wanted to become free was to commit suicide.

    But thankfully it was so much more easier than that :)

    Is Horatio completely against quitting the alcohol? I was thinking that he ought to begin eating the Antabuse… one cannot drink on Antabuse (well, not without risking one’s life). Antabuse is what again and again has helped me off from alcohol. Horatio could go to a doctor and get a prescription? Or has he already tried that?

    Pardon me for all those questions… you answer naturally only what you wish to answer.

    All the best to you B, you are such a marvellous person. Eyes wide open, straight forward and honest. And so full of care and love. Big hug to you!

    • I’m sorry for the huge delay in responding!

      That’s such a great way to put it…he’s held hostage by the alcohol. And I’m so glad you didn’t go with the choice that wasn’t sobriety.

      Horatio has tried Acamprosate (Campral) and he said that it helped to a mild extent. The medication is supposed to decrease the craving for alcohol, but when I asked him about its effectiveness, he said it barely cut the edge and did not stop him from punishing a bottle on most occasions.I think you’re right in that Antabuse (Disulfiram) would be a good option for him. The only downside of Antabuse is that if he really wants to drink on a Friday night, then he just has to skip his medication for that day. It all comes down to his motivation to remain 100% abstinent.

      Thank you for your wisdom and insight. I appreciate the questions and responses.

      • I’m just recently off Campral and to be quite honest, they made no difference.

        If he goes on Antabus he cannot skip it for one day to drink, the meds are still in his body. I took a relapse once about two weeks after quitting the Antabus once – I felt the full effect! My face and neck became tomato red, my heart started racing and it was pounding really hard. It actually scared me as it felt as if I’d have an heartattack (however that feels).

        Take care and Happy Easter to you!

        • Wow. I didn’t actually know that it remained in your system that long. That’s good to know, but not good to know that you had such a bad experience from it.

          Happy Easter to you too!

  8. Mrs Demeanor said:

    This is a toughie.

    You know, what you write about has happened to every single person who has been in some kind of relationship with an alcoholic, whether a co-worker, friend, parent, lover, sibling…

    I know that my eyes have really been opened by reading Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More and by reading the literature from Al-Anon, the organization to help the family and friends of the alcoholic. Others have commented about it here, and yes, I would say get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting, or at the very least, check out the book I mention. It’s a real eye-opener. I recently blogged about a pamphlet that impacted me a lot — the post is here & I link in the pamphlet that helped me understand the cycle and my responsibility to myself in how I handle it. http://mrsdemeanor.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/a-merry-go-round/

    I really found Louise’s comment up there especially wise. She nailed the issue!! :)

    Best as you figure out your role and place in the merry-go-round of alcoholism & what to do about it.

    Take care!

    • I’m sorry for the delay in response. As I’ve been catching up on your blog, I can see a similar theme…sometimes there isn’t enough time to do everything that we want to do. Such is life.

      You continue to be a wealth of information. I still haven’t made my way to an Al-Anon meeting despite my huge interest in it. I can’t wait to be able to go with my father to one of the meetings. I also want to go with Horatio to an AA meeting, but that might be too hopeful.

      I’m going to check out the book you mentioned (hopefully they have an audiobook version as I’ve gotten hooked on these lately) and I look forward to reading your blog entry on the subject once I catch up with all the blogs that I am behind on reading :-)

      Thanks again for your words and perspective!

    • Jen,
      Thank you so much! You continue to nominate me for such wonderful awards. It’s not just because I’m naturally a bashful person, but I don’t deserve such thoughtful awards.

      I always appreciate your thoughts and kindness.

  9. It’s awesome to see a fellow future psych resident blogging about true life experiences. No textbook or algorithm suffices in comparison to learning from our interactions with those we encounter on a daily basis. I hope your brother maintains strength to overcome alcohol’s control, and that you and your family get the support you need as well. And keep blogging :)

  10. hearing your thoughts and being able to see a spark rekindle in your brother makes me hopeful for my husband. i find it hard to step back and even harder to be in a place of compassion and understanding. i’m still full of anger and fear, so thank you for sharing hope with me.

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