“Your blood-shot eyes are giving you away,” said Jillian. “Rough night?” she quizzed.
“Why don’t you just leave me alone?” slurred her father. “I didn’t ask you to come over this morning. Are you’re here to annoy me?”
Standing firm, Jillian kept silent. She starred at her father, waiting for him to remember. She often felt like a bull and her father a matador. They played this deadly game; he waving the capote at her, spurring her on with his belligerent manner, and she, pawing the ground, head down poised and waiting to verbally charge him.
“Dad, you need help. You promised me yesterday that you would go to my meeting with me today. Did you forget?”
“I am not going to any meeting with you or anyone else,” he said. “If I want to have a drink or two now and then, I am going to do just that.”
“Dad, this is my meeting, my recovery. It has nothing to do with me trying to get you to a meeting.” I am not trying to change you, only me,” she said.
Jillian stepped back, inching her way outside by way of the screened in porch. “He has forgotten,” she muttered under her breath. Exiting quickly so he would not see her tears, she got into her car, put it in reverse and backed down the drive.
Remembering all the times her father put her in this position; all the times he reneged on his word, she chastised herself for allowing him to do it again. “When will I learn?” she asked no one in particular. “When will I let it go?”
Jillian pulled into the parking place at St. Mark’s church and waving to a few friends; she put on a smile and stepped out of the car. She located the meeting room and quietly entered, grabbed a seat and waited for her sponsor to join her.
During this down time she prayed, “Dear God, please calm my spirit, and help me to forget about my wishes for this day. Remind me that you are in control and that is how it should be. I wanted my father to be here, but I know I can’t make him come. My plans to surprise him were just that, my plans. Thank you for this gift of recovery. Amen.”
Looking up Jillian spotted Sara, her sponsor, and waved. Sara asked, “How are you doing? Are you nervous, afraid?”
“Yes,” Jillian responded with a shy grin.
“Is your father coming?” Sara asked.
“No, I don’t think so. He waved the red cape at me this morning and I responded accordingly. When will I learn?”
Jillian’s flip comment caused Sara to raise an eyebrow. “You can’t change him remember. Give him up to God.”
“I know, I know, I can only change myself. I am learning that, really I am, but some days it is so hard,” Jillian confessed.
Sara comforted her friend and said, “You have come along way, which is why you are sharing with us today. Just tell your story, tell about life as the child of an alcoholic, concentrating on you and not the alcoholic. Your words will assure someone in the rooms today that they are here for a purpose. Your example of survival and healing will be soothing balm to someone in the meeting.”
Jillian heard her name mentioned by the speaker, rose from her chair and approached the podium. When the applause ended, she leaned toward the microphone and began, “Hi, I am Jillian and I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with anger and control issues. I am the adult child of an alcoholic.”
Jillian spoke for thirty minutes, telling about how good God has been to her during this time of healing. She shared about childhood hurts and concluded with a story of forgiveness.
“I was hoping my father would be here today, I invited him, but he did not want to come. I wanted to tell him how sorry I am for having judged him all of my life. I wanted to tell him how proud I am of his service to his country. I wanted to make amends to him in your presence this morning,” Jillian told through her tears.
It wasn’t until she finished and was waiting for the applause to end that she looked up and surveyed the room. Far in the back corner sat her father, weeping and grinning from ear to ear.
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