Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Growing up ~ A Testimony ~

I grew up with wonderful parents. I loved them dearly.
My dad was the son of hardworking service people. His father, a distinguished butler, and his mother, a professional chef. They worked for years after migrating from Holland for a very notorious and wealthy family in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, my father grew up bouncing between servants quarters and parochial boarding school. He was a wonderful pianist. He couldn't read music to save himself, yet could play nearly anything he heard. He was a member of the Barbershopers and he loved camping and fishing. He could walk thirty miles for something to do.
He taught me good posture and grace by requiring me to walk around the house with a book on my head. Meanwhile, he  would descended to the floor below to listen for my footsteps. Because I loved spending time with him,  I became an avid ice skater, walker, fisherman and hunter. He taught me that using profanity made a person look ignorant and that women were their most beautiful without any makeup on at all.
My mother was my heroine. She was extremely hard working and could save money like no one else I have ever known in my life. She was a classic beauty, who could make a sweatshirt and jeans look amazing by simply adding a scarf or pin  She forbid me to demonstrate such characteristics as cattiness and she expected me to exhibit total sincerity when dealing with anyone. Being two faced was a forbidden and accepting all kinds of people...paramount.
She never allowed me to play with Barbie dolls because she felt little girls had no need for dolls with full figures. She only allowed me to participate in activities she felt would improve me such as reading, embroidery and poetry memorization. She was my very best friend, my confidant.
She wanted my brother and I to look well dressed and in style and worked her head off to accomplish it. Both of my parents screened my friends and always knew exactly what I was doing or what I had done. As I grew older many of my friends thought my mother was mean, but I always found my self defending her. I guess I knew that even when my parents seemed harsh they were doing their very best to raise a decent human being.
They both loved to cook and encouraged my own passion for it. Having the ability to cook and bar tend enabled me to support my family as a single mother for years following my divorce. I was blessed to have them for parents, they taught me to be a unique and as difficult as that process seemed at the time, I am thankful for it.

When I was in the 5th grade my parents divorced. I was delighted! So much so, that I produced a nervous giggle of glee when they told me it was going to happen.
Aside from being strict and somewhat demanding, the one characteristic they shared was alcoholism. When you grow up in a home filled with constant fighting, bickering and flying objects you believe that all families are like that. You are different because of the drama and when you go to school others don't understand you so they are mean to you and you in turn don't understand why they are mean. Psychology teaches us that the sober people in an alcoholic family are either ostracized or they become enablers. But what child understands that? All they think is why am I different? Why am I not accepted?Why are others mean to me?

In my child brain, I thought every home in the world was just like mine. Yelling, screaming,  breaking things and angry words, all characteristics of a dysfunctional home. In my parents case, pride prevented them from seeking help or even admitting a problem.

I had no clue that there were people who didn't drink in this world. People who celebrated without a bottle(s) of wine or champagne or booze. People who didn't drink Mimosa's while opening their Christmas gifts.
I rebelled frequently and because I was a product of an alcoholic upbringing, I dove headfirst into a marriage that placed me with the familiar. A different family with the same disease as my own. A disease that promotes a pattern of celebrating any and every conceivable victory and occasion with alcohol. I thought partying was a lifestyle everyone was partaking in until I was blessed with friends who were different.

Thank you precious Father God for those friends, for that eye opening and gradual understanding that I don't need it. It took me years and years to figure that out. For many years I partied because I thought that was the thing to do. I became a great bartender and I owned beautiful stemware, a lovely wine rack filled with great bottles of wine all because I thought I needed it. I thought I was so cool, all I needed was a drink in my hand and I could take over the world.  I thought I needed to drink and party to keep up "my image". Guess what?  I didn't and I don't!

Things started to change for me after my mother died. My parents were both gone and I was pulled by my umbilical cord back to the city of my birth, the place I grew up.
Our Heavenly Father had big plans for me there and he wasted no time! He threw me head first into situations that would make me understand just who I was and why I was that person. He opened my eyes to people who had once known me as that sad little mess of a girl and made me realize that I didn't need to be her.
She was not what He wanted for me.
He revealed His HUGE love for me and made me realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination because of that love.   He took me by the hand and with Him I relived some of the ugly things of my youth. I was able to gain an understanding of why I had been such a mess. Praise God forever more for loving me so much!

I blame no one. We are all blameless...all forgiven! We are all just walking through this world making every effort to survive. Hopefully, making every effort to be the best we can be.
My parents, despite their problem with alcohol, were great people. They gave me a foundation of strength that I am very proud of. They taught me to be honest, sincere and kind. They gave me life and it is mine to do with what I will! With the guidance of my Lord and Savior, Mighty God, I will never be alone. I will never feel less because I am in fact more! I am fun, funny and confident without it and whats more I'm not an alcoholic, but even if I were, I would be forgiven as I am Washed in the blood. 

In one of my rare appearances years ago at an Al-anon meeting, the speaker addressed the brokenness in the home of any kind of addict. She told us that we were all victims of this disease. People around me all started discussing how awful their home life was and all I could think of was how blessed I was not to be the drunk....not to be the addict. Thank you Father God for opening my eyes to the fact that I am not and never was an alcoholic. Believe me, for too many years I gave the finding out part my best shot!
Those with the disease may have tried to hurt me and punish me for being different, but I was different. I was the sober one. Thank you Father for friends who opened my eyes to the fact that it was o.k. not to have the desire to party. It was o.k. to walk away from people who kept trying to call me back. I now have peace and clarity about it. M sins are forgiven and there is a healthy life waiting for me to savor.