I choose …My children! breaking generational cycles

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If I had to pick one image to represent the last three years of my life during which I finally was able to beat my addiction to alcohol, through the grace of God, it would be this image by my friend Brittany Shelton.

I choose …

My children!

Breaking generational cycles

Addiction Stops Here! #Prevention

I met Brittany on twitter as one of my #RecoveryPosse friends.  She writes a wonderful recovery blog, DiscoveringBeautiful.com, which struck a nerve in me.  Brittany was also one of my first friends in my recovery communities who wore her recovery on her sleeve. She was not anonymous.  She was recovering, candidly, out loud.  Her bio states, “10 Years Sober. Wife. Mom to 3 Boys. Introverted People Lover. Book Hoarder. Restored & Recovering. Gratefully Imperfect Jesus Follower. Self-Proclaimed, Former, Chronic Fuck-up. Here to encourage you.”  …and she continues to encourage me.

They say around Alcoholics Anonymous that you can’t get sober for anyone but yourself and I understand the point.  Again, it wasn’t until I was dropped to my knees in desperation that I was finally to beg God for help.  That’s when the program started to work.  However my two sons, Aidan and Brody, were very significant motivations for my sobriety.  During my first year every time I’d earn a new chip Aidan would get my previous month’s chip.  Once I finally was sober and actively working AA I was never going to put myself in a position to have to explain to my sons that I was starting over.

My father was an alcoholic.  I swore my entire life that I’d never be like him.  Bob had been a very bright, witty, intelligent and loving father … but climbed in a bottle and was never able to climb out.  He was not in my life.  I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my boys didn’t have that same experience. When I finally realized that I was on the same path I fought like hell to change it. Being the father my boys deserve was and remains a primary motive for my sobriety.

Nature vs nurture has been debated for all of time and both applies to alcoholism.  The first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health states clearly released last fall states, “Like other chronic health conditions, substance use disorders are influenced by the complex interplay between a person’s genes and environment.”  I was predisposed to be an alcoholic because my father was an alcoholic. It’s in my genes.

I also grew up around heavy drinking. Alcohol was part of my environment.  Growing up in Marblehead in the 80’s parents drank socially … a lot.  They may have been called cocktail parties but there was as much alcohol consumed as you’ll find at a keg party.  Having two older brothers, my younger brother Jeremy and I were drinking in our early teens.  In Marblehead, a self-proclaimed ‘drinking town with a sailing problem‘, drinking was everywhere.  It was the home of famous bars Maddie’s Sail Loft, famous for the strong cocktails served in a pint glass, Jacob Marley’s and dive bar, The Rip Tide (the ripper), and many others stuffed into the four mile plot surrounded by water on five sides.  When I first arrived to UMASS Amherst for college, nicknamed Zoomass at the time, kids would shake their heads when you said you were from Marblehead, “you Marblehead peoople are out of your minds.” Seriously the police would always end up involved when friends visited from home.  Drinking was definitely in my environment.  It was a fun time and place to grow up however along with my alcoholic genes the drinking environment played a significant role. For most of my life drinking was an essential part of every activity.

Breaking generational cycles

Today I’m blessed that by the grace of God my sons don’t have to experience the same environment.  Aidan is old enough to remember the heavy drinking at birthday parties, family events, or even extended family dinners.  He remembers some of the chaos that would follow.  He claims today that he doesn’t ever remember seeing his father drunk.  Brody will never remember me drinking at all.  They both have the alcoholic genes but I’m doing everything in my power to change the alcoholic environment.  At least when they’re with me they will not be around the binge drinking that used to be a normal part of my life, my family & friends’ lives.  I just don’t have it around me at all today and won’t allow them to be around it.

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I wrote a blog last April in which I discussed the warm feeling I get when I see children at AA meetings.

Who brought the kid to AA? Parents in Recovery

“There is something warming that I feel in seeing children at meetings. I don’t shy away from bringing my own kids. My seven year old Brody will sit on my lap lost in his iPad until I hear the occasional snicker when someone cusses through habit. My older son Aidan has been to each of my anniversary meetings and has recently joined a group of us at a commitment where we spoke to a group at a local detox facility, most of whom were young opiate addicts. I don’t find this unhealthy at either age. Aidan and I always have open discussions about what we hear each time. There’s a stereotype of AA meetings being desperately sad, smoke filled rooms where you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. That couldn’t be further from the truth. And the alternative is far worse…”

Today I’m so grateful that my boys experience Recovery more than Addiction.  Having also experienced the miracles God can provide in your life if you let Him in, I’ve since made  my church, Hope Community Church, my second home.  Brody has practically grown up at Hope attending both services every week so I could attend one and teach Sunday school at the other. We also show up at all the events, camps, trips, volunteer events or even once the plea to help shovel the roof during the blizzards of 2015.  I continue to do everything I can to have Aidan involved in the strong Hope youth group, Hope Elevation. Aidan & I climbed Mt Washington with men from Hope last June and joined a group from Hope in November on a trip down to the Bowery Mission in NYC, the oldest homeless shelter in the country.  Next weekend we’re all traveling with the youth group up North for the weekend.  It’s so important to me that they learn early on that they’re never walking alone through life.  I want them to have Faith. 

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“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Given the choice of picking up a drink …

I choose …

My children!

Breaking generational cycles

Addiction Stops Here! #Prevention

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Thanks for reading,

Greg, RagamuffinDad

 

 

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6 thoughts on “I choose …My children! breaking generational cycles

  1. Wow Greg, great post. Great idea! You know I’ve been breaking generational cycle’s too. My grandparents were pretty vicious drunks. I never knew them. My dad had to deal with them. They never got sober.

    My dad got sober when I was about 10. My children may never need to see me take a drink. I pray. Breaking the cycle is so powerful! Awesome post man

    Liked by 3 people

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