We had been married a short period of time. We lived deep in the mountains in a shack which we had converted into a quaint cottage.
Fred drove up to his family in New Hampshire and also drove to a monthly men’s group in New York State often. I was overwhelmed with setting up house and scrubbing even window frames, window screens and the tobacco tar covered light bulbs. The place had been neglected way to long. The extremely long day that we had loaded the rental trailer and driven one car behind the other from Pennsylvania to West Virginia was traumatic. I knew not where I was going. I am not good behind the wheel over 2 hours! I was very much in love and ready to begin a new life. I did have to make innumerable pit stops, slap my face to stay awake and sing in the praise and gratitude the whole 11 hours.
When we turned into the mountain holler it was terrifying. My habitat had been flat, hot, sandy, and the tallest trees were palms.
There were 90 degree turns and drop off cliffs, too many trailer homes and barns falling apart, and rusty cars in most yards. This was like a movie to me. It was like a mystery or crime movie. I was seeing lots of poverty or else laziness. I am not sure which even now.
I got the place looking very country décor and even the porch was a dream! But there was a mini room that I never went into. First of all, the door was blocked by stacks of cardboard boxes. One day I did suck in my tummy and squeeze into the room. The boxes were stuffed with papers in no apparent order. Many receipts were inside various grocery store bags with a loose knot.
When Fred returned I asked him about it and he brushed it off. A week or so later I had asked a few times and he said they were his tax papers and he needed to file his taxes. He was behind on that. For 2 years I saw that he was unable to have any motivation to dive into those papers, put them in order and get the tax filing done. By that time we were married and I was fighting fear face on! I had walked away from an abusive marriage, come back to my country, suffered culture shock and the technical learning curve of survival in America from Microsoft Windows to smart phones to internet and working in a call center. Now I was married to a most loving, kind, Christian man who also knew and lived the 12 Steps. And what on earth was going to happen to us if he never paid the IRS? On my time off when he was working I went thru those papers and got them in order. The living room floor had plastic shoe boxes and file folders labeled. I was categorizing and grouping all the receipts on a regular basis. When all was ready for him to do his part, he still did not move a finger. Now, I was new in the mental health field then. I did not know what I know now.
God is so wonderful about every minute detail of helping us stay alive as we progress through life experiences, We never not perfect. We improve and learn our life lessons along the way.
Fred had not been able to touch those papers. They had hotel receipts, gas receipts and proof of the cancer battle his daughter had lost. He had literally moved from out west to West Virginia to live in a place not too deep in snow in the winter season and a day’s drive to up north. He went up to his daughter's area monthly to help go through the chemo treatment for 3 weeks. Then he returned back to the mountains for a week to keep the place in order the best he could.
I was losing my sanity in fear of the IRS. I talked to my boss when Fred explained to me why he was procrastinating. She understood and said the human mind was that way in order to protect itself. You know he did get all those filings done. And at the end, one IRS rep asked him to relay honestly why he had waited. Fred explained how his first born had wanted to hold on to die on Easter Day. She never complained about her condition. And at 2:00a.m. on Easter Day Fred, her lovely mom and wonderful brother were present. Fred asked her if she could see a light. She said “yes, Daddy”. Fred said: “go to the light. It’s O.K.”. And also her mom coached her to go, go, go to the light.
Wow, my dear reader, before she left this earth she slowly expressed in gentle joy: “Oh, I am a lamb of God! “.
Fred was asked to write that he had delayed doing his taxes due to inability to cope with the paper work as it reminded him of his daughter’s death due to cancer.
If the IRS, my boss and our Higher Power understood the deal about needing to heal first and move on, I needed to accept that, too.
We did not have to pay late fees and we had money refunded on our late taxes. Praise God!
I would like to say that I am the perfect Addiction Recovery Coach and so walked and talked pure Serenity Prayer. I wish I could say I did not take my beautiful husband’s inventory, plus lose it and scream at him before all that ‘procrastination on taxes’ was resolved. That is far from the truth. I remember being beside myself and leaving in a hissy only knowing I needed help! I stopped in the parking lot of my mountain mental health branch office because there was cell signal there.
On his nose was a red clown nose! And his big black clothing was made from a black garbage bag. He knocked an certain signal on the locked door and someone came and opened it. But the little door man was annoyed because we were 3 minutes early. Another man was busy setting up coffee and the cups and all. And, yet another man was laying out books and brochures. These guys knew each other well. And yet only one was friendly with everyone. So, the black plastic bag man, the chair person and I behaved politely. The others were having a hard time putting up with everyone. It didn’t matter to me. I knew that 12 Step meetings worked and I was not spiritually fit and they had the keys I needed. The black plastic bag man was a clergyman! He wrote poems. He played musical instruments. He knew all the Alanon readings by heart. He spoke the Bible verses, too. There was strife about who was going to read first and I just sat to learn. The chairperson seemed used to the lot and got everything running smoothly. After the readings, discussion began. When I shared what I had been going nuts over, they knew exactly how to tell their personal stories that would pull me back into the Let Go Let God mode. It was indeed a wonderful thing that I had gone. You see, in recovery of any addiction (oh yes, living with an alcoholic creates it’s won type of addiction of trying to help and control the alcoholics in order to make everything O.K.) So, in every addiction, we are to identify and never compare. I had been sober long enough to know that. Inside each man there was a treasure of wisdom and experience to tap into. No one there had been in Alanon less than 10 years.
The black bag man had sat on his bed pillow and opened his bag pulling out a doll to stand on the portion of the table in front of him. The doll was a Dick Tracy like Dog wearing a yellow trench coat and carrying an umbrella. The clergyman in the black plastic bag was a dynamic powerful orator on spirituality and the 12 Steps and wisdom of that paradigm shift that lets the mind operate on one truth. That one truth is that everything that is happening to one is not occurring ‘to’ them but ‘for’ them. About every 5-7 minutes throughout the meeting this amazing man would lower his face to look into the eyes of the doll and weep and beg: “Sweetheart, I told you that you need to put the bottle down. Honey, please just stop drinking and put the bottle down”. Then he would switch back to his position of helping me learn to cope with my IRS marital issue. I felt like another man at the table was like Jack Nicholson. That man was controlling and correcting and orchestrating our every move. You see, this is no different than a dog barking or a kitty meowing. Those who have to keep alcoholics in order and under cover become very controlling and demanding so they can think to themselves that they have everything going right. But here is the beauty! I am just was odd to them as they are odd to me. And in a 12 Step meeting, we have no preferences. We are family and we are there to share our experience, strength and hope. We are there to love the new comer until he or she can love themselves and forgive themselves. The lovely man in the black bag hugged me with great love after the meeting. He was so delighted to meet another lover of the Word of God. We do not shun another in recovery if their higher power is not the same as ours. However we do enjoy a member who loves our same God. As he hugged me I was asking God to help me be kind, despite the discussing garbage smell that was whirling around me. Fred and I laughed about my aroma all the way home with car windows down.
2 weeks later my loving black bag man came in late to an AA meeting across the river. He had walked at night across the high bridge to get there. He placed his bed pillow on his chair, sat and was one of us. He picked up his 14 year chip that night. He prefers to live where he prefers to live. He does not drink. He is an ordained member of clergy. His story in detail I know not. I know he and his wife drank. I know she could not stop. I know he is proof that alcoholism is a double portion. It effects the drinker and the loved ones. So, I keep up on my Alanon and Codependency readings and attend when the ‘what ifs’ begin to fog my mind.
I never want to forget that wonderful man who daily decides not to pick up or drink today no matter what and who still aches and tears for his bride who could not stop.
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