The other day I interpreted for one of the people who are court-ordered to drug and alcohol treatment and actually learn from it. Not everything they learn is easy to take, but it is truly rewarding to see the changes in people who are able to take responsibility for themselves and their families, perhaps for the first time. This is not something all young people are taught or have modeled for them through their parents, sadly. The probation meeting went like this:
How have you been since our last meeting? How is treatment going?
Really good. I am learning a lot. There are so many ways to stay sober. I am also learning to handle stress and sadness in new ways. Not taking it out at home.
Do you have a sponsor?
Yes. And he told me, I am the help you used to get in a bottle. When you feel like picking up a drink, you just pick up the phone instead. I will be here for you. And others will, too. We have the phone numbers of a bunch of people so we can reach each other.
That’s cool. What step are you working on?
Well, it’s kind of like all of them but also the first step – just knowing that we cannot just stop drinking by ourselves. That way we can have a better plan instead of just “I’ll try not to.” I have come to realize that I need this group.
It is great you have so much support. I never want you to have to go back to court again!
It’s not so much about court, not any more. That’s how it started. But now it’s my three kids, and my wife. I want so much to be there for them, to fight for them. I have missed so much. Now I really see how much they need and how happy it makes them just to have me around! And I am grateful they still even want me around. So I guess I can say I am doing it for myself. To get my life back. I feel strong, like I am going to be able to stay on this path. But I also know I have to be careful. You know, take it seriously.
Sounds like everything is going great! Let’s set another appointment for a month from today then. Unless you have any questions.
There is one thing…
(He swallows and his eyes get shiny). Now that I am more aware, I can’t help feeling so much remorse. I remember so many incidents, and I just think about my poor wife. I said awful things, I did awful things. I was cruel… I disrespected her in so many ways. Ways I cannot make up for. Things she won’t forget. I would drive drunk and stay out until all hours, she didn’t know where I was. How many times was she worried sick? I didn’t even think of her or how she was feeling, I just went out and partied with my so-called friends. I thought I had friends, but I found out when I got sober I didn’t, I only had drinking buddies. ..
My wife is the only one who stuck by me; the one I treated worst of all is my only true friend. I feel terrible about that. I keep remembering all those times… What a heavy burden I put upon her shoulders. How much she had to carry. How much money I wasted, how much time. And the children, I just, well, it makes me feel so bad, so much repentance. They saw their Daddy drunk and yelling, throwing things. I scared my own children. What a horrible thing! I’m just mad at myself and sick about it. I lay awake at night and just feel so sad to the depths of my soul. What was wrong with me? How could I have done all that to the people I love? How can I ever make up for it? I see it in my wife’s eyes sometimes even though she tries to hide it and I know I can never take away her pain, her bad memories of me. I hate myself for what I have done. And I don’t know how to get over it, how to ever look at myself in the mirror. You know what I mean?
Well, the one thing I know is that none of us can change what we ate for breakfast today, can we? Much less things even farther in the past. The only thing you can do is what you are doing now and in the future. Today forward. Remember the serenity prayer – you can only change the things you can.
If only I had known…
Well, you know now. Hopefully that will stop you from ever going back.