There are some weeks when it feels like no matter what I do, I just can’t get ahead. You don’t need me to tell you that life is sometimes hard, and we all go through difficult times, but how do we deal with those issues that get us down? This week I have been reminded of what happens when people just deny they have a problem or adopt poor coping mechanisms – out of control stress, depression, relationship breakdowns, alcohol abuse and other self destructive behaviour. The scary thing is that there have been times over the last few days when that has been internal and not external!
That is the bad news, the good new is that it doesn’t have to be like that! Although you might feel like a victim and it seems like you are unable to do anything about your situation, you CAN! My first go at this ponderings I came up with seven things you could do… but it just did not ring true for me, and where I am at, so I decided to tell you a story.
I first met Bruce when he was probably only 16 or 17, and I was 15. He was the opposite of me in every way. By that age he had already tried everything, he smoked heavily, was an alcoholic, dabbled in drugs, was covered in tattoos and had a police record. He was qualified to do nothing and only got a job as a storeman because the boss wanted to give him a chance. He couldn’t seem to get his life together, and at every corner things just got worse. One night while smoking in bed, heavily under the influence of alcohol, things happened and the boarding house where he lived burnt down. He fronted up to work next morning with nothing but the clothes on his back, and his boss, (my father) invited him to live at our place till he could get his life sorted out.
My life from that point my life changed, as I began to understand that I had everything going for me. I had a stable, loving family, a good education, healthy self esteem, hope for the future and the belief that God was in control. As Bruce would say that is easy for you – I have NONE of that! Yet in the years to follow my brother Bruce taught me basic counselling skills, as we worked to overcome his bad start in life, we laughed and cried through many and varied crises. He emerged from those struggles with a strong faith and was able to establish a stable family for his children but bore the scars of those early years for the rest of his life.
Why tell you this very personal story? Because I needed to remind myself that bad things do happen to good people. We cannot control what has happened to us in the past, or our family background but we can choose our response. Sometimes it is only when we get to the very bottom that we are forced to accept the truth about ourselves and the need to take desperate action. Maybe you too are in one of those crises, what are you going to do about it? If you have admitted that your life has become unmanageable and that you are powerless to fix it, you have reached step one of the AA process. My job is to help you with step 2, to come to believe that there is a higher power that can help to restore your sanity… yes, it is possible but nobody ever said it would be easy.
Chaplain Ian Whitley