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far aaaway

far aaaway

it’s in the bloodline, but i look to the one that broke the chain. in a family of five boys and seven girls, he is the only that sought help. he’s on my mind heavy today. surely it means something but i couldn’t tell you what.

he started his sobriety journey first by disbanding, moving thousands of miles away in his twenties. he took a career in corrections and worked in prisons for thirty years. he was married for twenty-one years but beat his wife regularly, the result of a traumatic youth where he’d witnessed the same and didn’t escape inheriting. they divorced after their children became adults – one boy and one girl; as different as night and day. the boy became a successful photographer and started his own company; the girl became a drug addict and had eight children from eight different men.

i remember her. my mom sent me to stay with his family for a week one year. we slept in the same room, she was really kind, soft spoken and i remember she french-braided my hair and painted my nails. that’s all i remember because it was something she’d asked to do and the experience of someone wanting to pamper me was a first and felt good.

my uncle calls me once a year to ask how i am and our calls last around five minutes. neither of us are phone people but it’s sweet that he thinks of me and calls just to ask how i am. my mom loves him – her brother, but hates how he’s distanced himself from the family. she feels personally invested to amend his distance and personally offended by his method of sustained healing.

he’s in his seventies and after so many years has remained as distant as ever. he still goes to aa and although still considering himself an alcoholic, he’s been sober for over twenty years.

i tried to explain that his distance wasn’t personal, that after forty years of admitting he was an alcoholic in a roomful of people, he still attended the meetings and that support is still important to his healing. all support. i explained that saying no to family gatherings and reunions had more to do with him needing to keep boundaries than being concerned with not offending others. who the fuck cares who’s offended when they’re in their seventies? i didn’t say that last sentence.

but i did remind her that all of his remaining siblings, children, nieces and nephews drink and that choosing distance as a tool to maintain his sobriety was his right. how could you not be happy for a brother that found a way to break the chain, set an example and give hope to those of us witness to his life?

i didn’t ask her that question because she herself has tried to quit and failed so many times that she’s exchanged persistence for shame and has thrown in the towel.

so what’s my job?

depends on the day. i don’t have her answers – only mine. all i’m left with is asking questions, often of the provoking kind. sometimes it returns anger and other times thought but when she calms herself, she knows i’m coming from a place of love, whether the towel is wet or dry

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