“In my late 30’s, I spiraled into depression and substance abuse. I ended up in treatment and afterward threw myself into a program of recovery. I was, in an odd way, fortunate in that my practice was in a smaller community and my having had a problem was not exactly a secret which helped with the ‘acceptance’ piece of my recovery. This let me be open about my addictions and people were kind about it.
My father, however, would avoid any conversations about my recovery. Anytime I would mention going to a support group meeting or calling my sponsor, he would immediately change the subject; not unkindly but certainly abruptly enough to leave the impression that the subject was taboo. I translated that pretty much the only way I could: My father was ashamed of me. It was an ongoing ache in my heart.
Fast forward ten years. Cellphones were new and my dad had one. It was one of those 10-pound boxes which sat on the floor of the car between the driver and the passenger and plugged into the cigarette lighter. The face was a profusion of various colored buttons and it took more than just setting it in the cradle to disconnect the conversation.
Dad called to let me know that he and a friend were coming over for lunch and asked if I could join them. I spoke briefly with my father who then passed the telephone to the friend. We talked for a few minutes and I offered my apologies explaining that I had a meeting I needed to attend and would not be to join them. Our conversation ended and I thought he was passing the phone back to Dad. I held on, waiting as there was some muffled noise on the other end. In retrospect, he was placing the hand-held part of the device in its cradle thinking he was hanging up. Before I could figure out what was going on and hang up myself, I heard just a small snippet of conversation which changed my life.
‘Dale said he was going to a meeting of some sort,’ said the friend.
My dad said, ‘Oh yes, he goes to quite a few of those. You know I don’t know what they do in those meetings but Dale has done so well. I am so proud of him.’
There has not been a day since that I was not grateful to have received my father’s blessing, albeit anonymously.”