A Family Disease

One of the texts that OA uses is AA’s Big Blue Book. In previous meetings I hadn’t really though of it much before, but yesterday, it hit me pretty hard.

My brother, who passed away in May, battled alcoholism for most of his life. During one of his periods in recovery, he gave me a copy of AA’s Big Blue Book. “Here sis. They say it helps to have family know about what we are going through.” I remember feeling so honored that he was inviting me to know more about his journey. I kept the book, but never read it. Like him, I was a bit turned-off about the spiritual (God) aspect of the program at the time. I was also a bit scared to read about what he was up against. I think it’s the hardest journey to look at yourself and challenge your coping mechanisms. At that time, I would have never guessed that I would eventually be doing the same.

As I sat in yesterday’s meeting, I couldn’t help but feel so overwhelmed at knowing that this book that my beloved deceased brother gave me five years ago is now something I can use in my own recovery with compulsive overeating. It is said that addictions are a family disease, and this is definitely true in my case. I suppose I have known this to some degree, but it really sank in yesterday and when it did, I felt closer to my brother than ever before.

During the last five years of his life, my brother managed to stay sober by doing what worked for him. His relationship with his son and granddaughter grew stronger and healthier, which was a gift for all of them. I know it was no easy task, and I have been grateful for his sobriety. I have mentioned before that, even though losing him has been painful, I know that things could have ended up much worse. A lot of people die with their addictions still “active”. I have heard too many stories of people who were intoxicated and have died on railroad tracks, in alleys, in fights, and while incarcerated.

Last night I was working on a project for school that involves researching incarcerated populations. As I read the data I felt so much sadness and gratitude for my brother’s recovery. He experienced a lot of extremes, and the accumulation of damage to his body took its toll. Sometimes I do not understand what everything was about. The disease, the addiction, the reasons, the childhood experiences, the unresolved issues. It all seems like too much. Then I remember that there is not meaning for me to figure out. This was my brother’s journey. Because we are connected, our paths were paralleled and crossed paths. We are mirrors to each other, and even though he has moved on, I continue this journey with him.

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