So the stalwart locksmith I shall call Rudi came to change the locks. The watchdogs wagged their fluffy plumes of tails at him and squeaked a little. They only really bark at me these days, when their supper is late.
Rudi had some coffee. He changed the locks and had some more coffee. He had a toasted chicken mayonnaise sandwich.
And in between the coffee and the sandwich and the lock-changing, he told me the story of how he and his wife tried to tell his daughter she has a drinking problem and needs to get some help. A police sergeant also turned up to get finger prints and had some coffee and told us how his brother-in-law went for help, but only after the entire family had given up on him. Rudi wasn’t as encouraged by this as he might have been.
I talked a little about my brother being actively alcoholic. But my brother is on the other side of the world, sitting on a beach under palm trees staring at a coral atoll and I don’t know much about his life or how bad it is. So it doesn’t hurt me all the time like a punching in the solar plexus that never lets up.
Rudi is hurting. His daughter was arrested for driving drunk and being drunk and disorderly in a public place. His daughter is a primary school teacher and her name is, let us say, Sonja. Sonja is engaged to a lovely sweet-faced man who broke off the engagement last week when he found that his fiancee had been sleeping around. Well, drunkeness affects us that way, sadly. We lose our finer discrimination along with our moral good sense and our ability to keep sitting upright on a bar stool.
Sigh. Anyhow, Rudi bailed his daughter out of a holding cell and brought her home. Then he and his wife and Sonja’s two brothers all gathered round the pale and defiant Sonja and wept. They tried to use ‘I’ statements and told her again and again how much they love her and just want to be there for her. Sonja cried too and said she would try harder. One of the brothers brought in the family Bible and Sonja promised on the Bible she would never drink again. Everyone cried some more and they all hugged each other.
Then when everyone left her alone, Sonja sneaked out of a side door and walked to the nearest bottle store and got very drunk and then evicted from her flat. And she has been drinking since. The intervention failed. Rudi blames himself, his wife blames herself, the brothers blame the sweet-faced man who doesn’t want to marry a promiscuous alcoholic.
I gave Rudi a pamphlet on Alanon and I talked about how AA works and I shared something of my story. But there are no guarantees — and he wants solid ground under his feet. He wants his good daughter back. He wants his family united again. He wants to believe in God and that God is going to save his daughter. He doesn’t want quicksands.
It is a terrible and frightening time. And there are no keys that fit the broken locks. There is no master key. There is no possibility of locking up an alcoholic out of harm’s way. There is no return to innocence. And no unlearning these hard truths. I said goodbye to Rudi and promised I would pray for his daughter. I know that she can get sober. She has to want to get sober though, and that is often a long and tortuous road of losses and heartbreak.
I am so glad I did not have loving and close parents whose hearts I could break.