“I heard you on the radio,” the hesitant voice on the other line says. “I know you can help me. If you would call my daughter. Or, maybe …”
She breathes into the receiver like a marathon runner. The sound of a mother desperate to save her adult child.
“You could go to her house? Pay her a visit and tell her your story? I know she would listen to you.” After a moment of silence, her quieted voice begs, “Please.”
My heart breaks for her. I clench my teeth to fight back tears. I bite my lower lip, searching for the right answer.
This is not what I signed up for.
I’m in completely unfamiliar territory. The closest I’ve been was right after my mom read the preview book of Stumbling Into Sobriety. Riding down the road in my back seat the next day, she used her quiet voice, too.
“I just don’t understand,” my mom said.
I shot a confused look to my sister in the passenger seat, then glanced up to the rearview mirror. My mom looked so small in the back seat. So small and so sad. She stared out the side window. Tears in her eyes. Her right fist propped up under her chin. Her head slowly shook back and forth.
I just don’t understand how I didn’t see it.”
My heart broke for her then, too. I had to clench my teeth for her then, too. I didn’t know what to say to my own mother to reassure her my alcoholism wasn’t her fault. How could I ever make her understand that my only job, my one job in life, was to keep it a secret.
And now, I don’t know what to say to this mother either. But I try.
“Well. Uh, it doesn’t really work that way,” I say. “If she wants to quit, and she wants to call me, I will do everything I can to help her find resources to make that possible.”
“Oh.” I hear her disappointment.
“But let me talk to my doctor.” I make an effort to offer hope. “The least I can do is find out what you can do.”
I hang up the phone and head to the alumni group meeting at Greenfield Center.
Until now, it hadn’t occurred to me that there was a whole other community of sick people out there. The ones innocently sucked into our wake. Drowning in our pit of depression and our anxiety and our hopelessness.
This call was just one of a dozen since the broadcast. I am clearly in over my head. But I am determined to get answers for the next caller. And I know the man who can give them to me. Dr. Brian Jackson.
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Tracy’s Intensive Outpatient Treatment therapist, Dr. Brian Jackson, was on Melissa Ross’ show, First Coast Connect, at WJCT 89.9 FM. CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO THE BROADCAST