The Past Includes My Story, Doesn’t It? Damn

My dad was German.

His father did not learn to speak English until he went to school;

my father only heard German spoken in his relatives homes.

I grew up knowing what it meant to be German:

You work hard,

You work hard,

You don’t give up,

And then you work hard some more.

His family left Germany when their lumber yards

were confiscated for some war effort or another.

This is before WW II.

His grandfather arrived with nothing

and built a lumberyard

and a piano company,

The Winkel Piano,

from scratch.

That is what it means to be German;

That and Good Beer, sauerbraten and sauerkraut.

My dad made his own home-brew every year using the Old Family Recipe.

You could not get Good Beer in the states back then.

We grew up, as he did,

drinking beer every now and again

and drinking wine mixed with 7-up at holidays.

Everyone I knew grew up like this.

I lived in a Latino neighborhood;

it was customary in Mexico for kids to drink at a fiesta;

not much mind you, just a bit.

We never got drunk and it was not a big deal.

After my parents got us drunk, on cheap beer

not the Good Beer,

I swore off the stuff.

I was 11 years old.

I began to watch my parents more closely after this incident.

I hated the smell of beer and it permeated our home at night.

My dad was a drinker too. He could tear it up.

He could also go a night without getting wasted.

Mommy could not.

She drank all night, every night of my life.

She drank all night, every night,

until the night I put her in an ambulance bound for Denver General

and a forced medical detox.

When I was 11 I swore I would never become a drunk.

I hated being drunk.

I hated being sick the next day.

I hated what alcohol did to my mother and my father.

When I was 11, I swore I would never become a drunk.

I wish I had kept that promise.

I wish I had.

The past includes my story, doesn’t it?


Thank God you can keep a promise that has been broken,

Thank God for that.

Peace, Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on February 9, 2012.

19 Responses to “The Past Includes My Story, Doesn’t It? Damn”

  1. Without you we wouldn’t know this story. It’s so important. Include yourself, love: if YOU want to share that very tender part of you. I know our days of binge-drinking. That was the past. It made me feel numb (and perhaps if i would have liked hammers, i would have hit myself on the head to block the pain) but drinking intoxicants seemed less harsh. When i turned 25, booze did nothing for me except make me obnoxious. My boyfriend got me OA/AA. What is the story you want to share? I feel like there’s something on your mind … is it too painful? You are not your mother at all AT ALL. YouAreNotShe. You have a story though that someday you might share a bit of. Or not, Love, mel
    P.S. Oh, yeah, you got the German down … jeesh!


    • Mel, Wow! You KNOW me!

      I am indeed NotShe. 25 was my turning point too. Same deal; a man I cared for deeply said, “You are so amazing. How much more amazing would you be without drugs and alcohol?”

      I, of course, thought all of my creativity would go out the window without drugs and alcohol. I was WRONG! He was dead on. I am eternally grateful to this man.

      Stories are important. Mine dribbles out when the spirit moves….

      I love you. Jen


  2. Dearest Jen – Keeping a promise that’s been broken. I thank God for that, too. You’ve found such a perfect way to describe it.
    When I started trying to keep broken promises, for a very long time, I held on by a thread. It was grace, but grace off of a spool.
    Gradually it’s become more of a climbing rope – strong, even when I lose my footing.
    I think you’re weaving together a climbing rope.
    Keeping broken promises is as gut wrenching as a hangover.
    Thank God for redemption.
    My love to you on this journey, my friend,


    • Dear Debbie,

      Oh my this is BEAUTIFUL!

      “When I started trying to keep broken promises, for a very long time, I held on by a thread. It was grace, but grace off of a spool.”

      I will never shake the image of a spool from on high….

      Threads for the taking…

      With love and gratitude,



  3. oh I too made the promise never to drink, never to smoke, never to….
    thank God, or whomever, that you still keep that promise. beautifully put.


    • My journey to sobriety was not linear. It was a long up and down trudge. I remember not drinking once around 20 for 7 days and thinking, ‘There. See? I am Totally in control!’.

      I played those games for 10 years. They are games I was only playing with myself.

      The promise I keep is to me. I learned to value my opinion in therapy. THAT was my turning point. THAT is/was my key.

      I think every addict goes through this; up down. Making deals with ourselves.

      I did not quit cold turkey one day. I took 5 years of my life to slowly gain my own respect (from age 25 – 30) In hindsight, I would have been better served going cold turkey. 5 years is a long time.

      My therapist was actually my key. That and a dear friend saying the right thing at 24, ‘you are so amazing! I wonder how much more amazing you would be if you quit drugs and alcohol?’ wow. He upended my thinking with this one statement. My therapist and Sean saying the right thing at the right time: that began my real journey to sobriety.

      I wish I had gone cold turkey. That 5 years would be mine now of I had.

      Thank you do much for being here. It means SO much to me!

      Peace, jen


      • games should be fun…


      • Ho Ho!! You are so right. I look at it this way now:

        Winning is fun. I win everyday I stay clean. I win everyday I am breaking The Cycle.

        I get to redefine the Game. The Game is a Whole Me. I Win!

        Peace, Jen


      • It’s not how many times you fall down that counts but how many times you get up after falling down. That is what our children will see…that we tried…and they see. As for God he loves unconditionally, broken promises and all. I liken it to a child’s love of a parent. No matter how lousy the parent the child still loves them.


      • Amen, Maiya! That is the Truth!

        XO Jen


    • NEVER is a tricky word for an addict. Acceptance and compassion, I have found, are MUCH better words to hang on to.

      One day at a time. Really really truly….

      Thank you for being here. It means so much to me….

      Peace, Jen


  4. Be careful of what you fear, for these things have a way of tricking us into loving them…


    • Oh Baby! You got that right!

      Heidi at Good Life posted about control today. She has my number. I haven’t had any desire to drink or drug in so long it is easy to forget the underlying reasons I did it in the first place.

      That is the slippery slope.

      Thank you once again!

      Peace, Jen


  5. So wise! You realize one does not have to be an alcoholic to see himself in the pictures you paint. Thanks.


    • Kathy, It is amazing to me how coming from ANY type of dysfunctional family can shape the same sorts of behaviors and beliefs that growing up with alcoholism can.

      As an adult child of alcoholics, I need to break my silence. It IS part of the healing process. I have told my truth in therapy and in meetings; blog land is another layer of the onion that can only help release me. I hope it helps others to see that they are not alone.

      or crazy,…



  6. Another “shoot from the heart hip” story. Your words “The past includes my story, doesn’t it” are so full. You summed up why a parent, or anyone/anything else from our past for that matter, can’t be thrown away so easily. Because our story is tangled up in what we want to be rid of. I read the phrase “leaving an emotional legacy” somewhere in the past few days. I thought how much that spoke to the ways we are linked to past and future generations.

    Oh, if we could grasp that it is our option to “keep a promise that has been broken”. At some point in graduate school we discussed the fact that what separates us as humans from most other species, is our ability to re-decide. I remember thinking then how little we seem to embrace that concept when we’ve headed down a self-destructive path.

    You chose to “re-decide”, and to change an “emotional legacy”. Thank you for letting us witness and learn from your re-deciding! You are leaving the trail clearly marked for us to follow. ~ Paulann


    • Paulann! I LOVE ReDecide. I love it.

      It seems to me we all can benefit from ReDeciding all the time.

      I am going to share this at my next meeting. THank YOU for adding to my understanding of what ever the Hell this thing is I am going through.

      You know, you spend years in therapy, you go to meetings, you develop healthy relationships AND BAMMO! something happens which flings you back into the past and there I am again: a little kid; afraid, and alone and lost.

      Weird. Thank God I can ReDecide AGAIN how to shape this journey. I know now, after ignoring the grieving process before, that I can NOT not go through the grief this time, BUT I can ReDecide how to come out the other side.

      Thank you SO much for your wisdom and your heart!

      XO Jen


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