The new improved dog is so angelic we wonder if he has been swopped for a changeling. Very disconcerting. The dog trainer I shall call Dimple came around primed with the smarmy successful Cesar Milan’s techniques and fell in love with the dog. The housemate was taught to Tsshhipsst! and stand upright looking away from the dog. The dog loved his obedience class. By late that evening we were both worn out by the dog’s eagerness to obey our every wish and command, sitting and wagging his tail expectantly.
Dimple said that she will come around and spend some quality time with the dog because she needs to get away from her hooligan grandchildren who will not respond to dog-training techniques and run wild in a lovable way. She admitted that her own dogs are not that well-trained and our Great Dane is very happy, well-adjusted and relaxed. I sort of hoped the dog would chew her handbag a little or destroy a throw pillow in his naughty way, but the dog just lay down when asked and watched Dimple with attentive and submissive goodness. Most unexpected. We must have done something right.
Another glorious day, breezy and cloudless. This evening we are going to another outdoor concert at the home of musically inclined friends. We shall be listening to the son of a local villager, a self-described musical genius, play his own compositions on six-string classical guitar, which will be either amazing or a few hours of sober unrelieved agony.
The housemate has gone off to a community hall to make lunch for 600 small children living with Aids or TB. We sat and worked out the quantities for three huge steam trays of pasta and mince bake along with a kind of luscious custard pie that is very popular. Kids out here are not faddish eaters, mostly because they are hungry. I sent along a big bowl of my spiced peaches to be chopped up fine for the custard pie.
Because it is on my mind, I am reposting a comment I left on a new and favourite recovery blog. It isn’t about blaming, but understanding the dynamics that influence our obliviousness and denial as alcoholics.
Mrs D wrote: ‘Candy then told me about a friend of hers whose husband’s drinking is causing immense grief. He’s boozing heavily, hiding it, lying about it. She’s trying to talk to him about it, and has threatened to leave and take the kids with her, but he’s aggressive and in denial, and he says she’s uptight and won’t let him be himself. He doesn’t seem to feel any guilt or think of himself as having a problem. I don’t get that! Is he lying to her or is he lying to himself? This is an attitude that I just cannot relate to.’
My response, an insight that has helped me understand why I didn’t realise how problematic my drinking was in my 20s:
You know, the husband may be in denial or blunted but he may also be someone like me who grew up in an alcoholic family.
My earliest memories are of my mother with a glass in her hand. Tiptoeing around the house in the morning because my mother was not well and needed to sleep. My mother at parties. My mother laughing too loud or crying, stumbling or falling. My mother making a fuss of us for no reason or ignoring us.
Alcoholic drinking was normality at home. Drinking was what made adults happy. Drinking caused fights. Drinking was for nights and weekends and holidays. To this day when I am around heavy drinkers, it feels familiar. I had no idea until I left home that not all children grow up with the roller-coaster of parental drinking.
What children internalise from an alcoholic parent is that habitual and chaotic drinking is a way of life. Unlearning that may take decades, and like your friend’s husband, I didn’t really understand what was wrong with it until my own drinking had gone far beyond acceptable. Even then, I kept thinking most people drank this way.