Friday, February 4, 2011
A Story of Twelve-Step Recovery
Ruth’s Story - Told in Three Parts
Today, Ruth is 94 years old and has fifty years of Twelve-Step recovery under her belt. Truth is, she is one of the longest long-timers in the entire program. She first came to meetings in 1960, when her second husband, like her first, turned out to be a drinker. “I thought God was mad at me,” Ruth recalls. “Everybody who had ever crossed my path seemed to turn into an alcoholic. I thought it was my fault.”
Alcoholism had touched her life early, though she says her parents were wonderful. “I was their only child, she says. “They worked days and nights, and there was no fighting. I was never deprived. “ During the Great Depression, both her parents worked in order to keep their Mount Vernon flat. However, Ruth adds, “They had a need to drink. They liked their drinkies.”
Children seem to have an uncanny ability to detect problems, even when they are not articulated or addressed by anyone in the home. Ruth’s antennae were raised when she was young. Many of her aunts and uncles were already alcoholics.
As Ruth grew older and entered high school, she developed a romantic vision of what she wanted next. “My dream was to marry a tall, dark, handsome good dancer. I did,” she says, “and he kept dancing -- but not with me.” The “dance” turned out to be traumatic, entailing one of the most abrupt changes Ruth would ever encounter.
Ruth had eloped in 1936 to marry an Irishman named Bob, who declared himself to be not the least bit interested in having children. Nevertheless, as babies are prone to do, a son appeared in 1938, followed quickly by a daughter in 1939. Hubby Bob had managed to “keep dancing” but, as Ruth says, “not with me.”
The marriage ended the night their daughter was born. Bob came to the hospital carrying Bobby, their 15-month old son, and escorted the family to the car. Off they drove, with Ruth holding her baby girl, while the toddler bounced along in the back seat of the car. Ruth says she thought it strange when her husband did not slow down to stop at their house. Instead, he drove slowly past the house, pointing at it and saying to Ruth, “You don’t live here anymore.”
The next stop was the local drug store, where Ruth and her babies were deposited by Bob, who drove away into the Mount Vernon night. “I needed bottles,” Ruth says. “I was twenty-two years old with eight dollars to my name, a newborn in my arms, and a toddler at my side.” The druggist, when he heard Ruth’s tale of what had happened, simply said:
“That BIS-terd !”
Does this not sound like there’s a problem related to alcohol somewhere in the equation? But Ruth was in denial, and people like the pharmacist did not know much about alcoholism in those days. Nobody did.
(To be continued next post)