Monday, April 12, 2010


They're cleaning out my grandparents' house – the rooms are full of boxes and the walls are bare. Grandma's a collector, of things beautiful or sentimental or remotely useful, so there's a lot to go through. The depression generation, or “The Greatest Generation”, according to Grandpa and Tom Brokaw, tends to save things that I would throw away. But they can only fit so much into their new “home”, an assisted living rental, so most of their stuff has to go.

Mom found a flower pot I made for Grandma in the fifth grade. Money was tight that year, so we bought a rainbow set of permanent markers and several white plastic pots, and did the homemade gift thing. We sat on the red brick porch of my childhood home and colored the pots together. To this day, I still get a little zing of excitement when I see a brand new pack of red and yellow and green Sharpies, like a kid opening a new box of Crayolas. Mom doesn't remember making the flower pots at all. She was me – parent of a ten-year-old, broke and overwhelmed, making the best out of what she had.

My Ashley is in the fifth grade, and I see her becoming a little person, moving out of my shadow and into her own world. At her age, I was organizing my desk and books and Star Wars collection, building my own little organized kingdom. I was winning piano competitions, composing music, getting straight A's, and making flower pots. I had my own clock radio and I set the alarm early so I could look handsome for school in my gray corduroy pants and button-up shirts. Like Ashley's, my world was full of possibilities. Like Ashley, I thought I was hot stuff. I knew I could accomplish anything.

I accomplished something this month. I directed a musical. Into this task I poured everything I know about arranging music, staging transitions, working with artistic people (not easy), scheduling rehearsals, audio and lighting and video projection, publicity. It was my magnum opus, so far, and it turned out absolutely incredible. We drew the highest attendance our church has ever seen for a single event, and everyone seemed thrilled. What I was most proud of was this: a few people who have never really connected found their place to shine, and truly became a part of our church family. That's what it's all about. That's why I work at a church – it's more about the people than the art.

Then I took a week off, and instead of going back to all the recovery meetings I'd been missing, I slept and tuned out. So halfway through the week I used, which shouldn't really be any surprise. I spent a month ignoring my sobriety, suppressing my anger and resentments until the show was over. What did I expect? If you've been reading me for a while, you might be sick of my broken record life story, but not as tired of it as Linsey. She asked me what I would do different this time, and I didn't know what to tell her but this: I have to keep doing the right things, even after the first couple of weeks. I can stay sober when I'm go to meetings and pray, when I do my step work and my reading. I can't when I don't. I'm grateful to be back.

[This post also at]


  1. Glad you're back...just remember it works if you work it and that you never have to use or drink again...

    happy to see you back and congrats on the musical ...xo Gabi

  2. Thanks Gabby - You're always kind and encouraging.

  3. The musical sounds great. I'm glad that you decided to get back into your recovery program. Take care of yourself.

  4. hey you! you have the desire to change. and that's the important thing.

  5. I do have the desire. Now to follow through on the "stuff".

  6. Glad to see you here Eli. Keep coming back...that's all you can do on some days.

  7. Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. Parts reminded me of myself, especially the sleeping and tuning things out part.

    If at first we don't succeed, try, try again...yeah?

  8. Thanks for calling by my journal Eli.

    Both my parents were alcoholics, my father took aversion therapy and it was successful although it took over nine months in a locked ward initially. Mother died of her affliction. God rest her soul.
    My mantra for you would be 'Every Day is a New Day'. If God lets you wake up and put two feet on the floor again then you do the best with that day...and try not to remember yesterday and "what if's".
    Good luck and learn to love yourself.

  9. You are very tuned into your little girl. I know how important that is, and how very cool that is. falling down, getting up, for me it's all part of changing. What a blessing it is though for us daddies of little girls to show and give them something we weren't. Grace, Love and perseverance.

  10. Thanks all for your encouragement. We're going to see our marriage therapist today and I'm very nervous. I'm trusting in my HP - whatever anger needs to come to the surface in our marriage can be handled, and will only be a step towards eventual health.

  11. Eli, this is a very moving and entry, so thank you for this. And thanks for peaking into my blog - honestly, yours was one of the first I read when I started blogging, and I'm really glad to see you're back.

    The musical sounds wonderful! I know my friend has a church up in Northern CA, and the musicals they put on really make everyone take notice of The Word. Heck, I live hundreds of miles away, and even I notice how awesome his church is. You're providing a wonderful service, so keep it up.

  12. A. A. and Al-Anon both teach "One day at a time." That is all any of us can do. I don't drink but I do overeat to control the emotions. I am very conscious of my eating right now since I need to lose some weigh for health reasons. I have lost 11 pounds so far. One day at a time. Some days the feelings are too much and I overeat. The next day I don't. So right now, I am also telling myself "One day at a time."