Venting Spleen

For some reason, the term “vent spleen” came to mind when I thought of this post.  I guess it means venting anger, and I don’t think that is really what I want to do.  I get insulted easily and I got insulted yesterday.  And then I thought about it while I was cleaning house just now.  And so I thought, well, I have a blog, I am going to write about this.

I am working with some upper echelon public servants.  I could be more specific, but God knows, I don’t want anyone stumbling across my blog accidentally, so I try to keep it kind of generic.

Earlier this year, I found out that “sustained abstinence is not a realistic outcome” for someone suffering from “substance use disorder – alcohol.”  And for months, I have been thinking “REALLY?”  Maybe you guys with all your fancy-schmancy research should look at some other treatment modalities and see that there is all kinds of recovery out there, they just haven’t been through your drying out mills (Which, by the way, you have just said don’t work), or maybe they did try your treatment industry, but found their ongoing treatment with sustenance (I was going to say “substance,” but rethought that) was in a room with a bunch of other drunks.

Yesterday I learned (from a 29 year old woman) that once a woman is in poverty, it doesn’t matter what interventions you have in place for her, she will never get out of poverty.  Study after study has proven this.  The only hope of breaking inter-generational poverty is intervening with the children.  And I have been thinking “REALLY?”  My suggestion was that there are probably good reasons a woman is a single mother without a job, and perhaps those issues could be addressed before expecting the woman to just pull herself up by her bootstraps and be productive, dammit!  But no, this very intelligent woman told me it wouldn’t matter.  It is just hopeless for the woman in poverty.

And I want to say “Do you want to hear my story?”  “Would you even listen to it?”

I drank like a fish, I drank because I was an alcoholic.  Not because I drank myself into having “substance use disorder – alcohol.”  No, I drank abnormally from the first time I picked up a drink.  I never drank normally.  I drank abnormally for 18 years.  Every single day.  Some days were better than others.  Some days were worse, but I was drinking through all of them.  It took 3 years of trying to quit drinking every single day – and failing – before I called that program full of drunks that I am not referencing by name here.  Now those people understood me!  The counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc. had all looked at me with disgust or pity and then sent me a bill for their time – and then I went home and drank again.  These sober drunks actually listened to me and actually told me THEIR stories, and I had never heard stories like that, like mine, before.  I was no longer alone.  I was with my people for the first time in my life.  I got no bills from them.  And they were really there for me.   I quit drinking on July 24, 1984 and by the Grace of God have not had a drink since then.  I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but I believe that might be called “sustained abstinence.”

After I got sober, I left my husband and found a series of relatively good jobs and supported my family.  After I stayed sober for about 5 years, I had a breakdown and lost everything.  My kids, my job, my home, my car.  I had a storage unit with the few precious possessions I was able to keep – and somehow I was able to make the payment on that for a few years.  I was wandering around the country, trying to figure out what to do with myself.  By the Grace of God, I didn’t drink.

I found a new husband, and lets just say that didn’t work out so well for me.  Then I was nine years sober and sleeping on people’s couches while I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself – again.  By the Grace of God, I didn’t drink.

Miraculously, a job fell into my lap.  I worked for $5.50 an hour in the medical records department of a large local hospital.  I worked there for a year to get experience in medical records. I got a little apartment that my daughter and I lived in, we loved it.  I bought a 1982 Ford Pinto with hail damage.   At the end of a year, I looked for another job and found a job in the medical records department of a psychiatric hospital.  I fell in love with that place from the moment I walked in the door.  I had a wonderful boss who was a mentor to me, and she talked me into going to college – at the age of 43!  By the time I graduated 5 years later, I had her job.  And then I kept going to school and got my masters degree.  And got a better job.

I bought a house, a car, etc., etc., etc.  And although I have taken pay cuts for the last 4 years, and inflation is out of control, and therefore I am having financial difficulties now – I have been and I am self-sufficient and am not living in poverty.

Maybe we (in our programs) live in a world where we believe in God, and believe in Grace, and believe in miracles.  Because we see these things every single day.  Maybe because we live them every day.

Maybe if you take out God and take out grace and take out miracles, you have this awful world where addicts and alcoholics CANNOT recover.  Where single mothers are hopeless losers, and there is no point in trying to help them.

But I cannot live in this world without hope.  I cannot.

Something has to change and as usual, it is going to be me.

The book near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land.  So the Lord said to Elijah: “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.  I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”  He left and went to Zarephath..  As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”  She left to get it, adn he called out after her “Please bring along a bit of bread.”  She answered, “As the Lord, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.”  Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose.  But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.  Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.  For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’  She left and did as Elijah had said.  She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah. — 1 Kings 17-7-16

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8 Responses to Venting Spleen

  1. Dave U says:

    Ignorance is bliss. And sometimes, obvious.

  2. atomicmomma says:

    Awesome writing…I think you have a book in you!

    There is no money in getting people sober. That’s why they talk the way they do.

  3. Syd says:

    I much prefer hope also. Without it, what is there?

  4. Mary LA says:

    Good for you Mary Christine — nobody is hard-wired for poverty. And so much thinking about alcoholism is skewed towards profits and the rehab industry rather than hope of recovery.

  5. luluberoo says:

    I had a drug counselor tell me addicts who used the drug of choice my son used never stopped..(or some words along those lines). It was so awful to hear, and I believed it for a minute because she was a professional. In time, I came to know God never says never.

  6. Pam says:

    Whew! We’re lucky we did not have to listen to their wisdom when we were drunk and living in poverty. How sad.

  7. Jackie says:

    MC & Pam, I agree. And I loved the fact that “we” are free. Free to give, free to live with hope, free to be a part of life again. How many woman like “us” began just as you described. Losing everything and then getting sober was necessary for this hard headed woman. However, the “firm bedrock” that I now build on has the presence of God all over it. But it began with 2 drunks talking to each other. As always, thank you for keeping it real.


  8. Wendy says:

    Thank your for your wisdom and experience. I’m on the verge of 5 years and I “feel” like life is sometimes tougher than it was 5 years ago.

    I read the bible cover to cover two years ago, I don’t know much, but this passage sticks with me lately.

    “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

    P.S. Great job on the Olympic Tri last weekend.

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