Angels and Assholes #9…Restoring Dignity

Angels and a-holes in the same tale, this time:

This is, I’m aware, not politically correct (but my hero is Donald…NOT), but, in my humble opinion, if a guy drinks til he loses his wife and kids, maybe his entire family, I’d call him an a-hole. BUT, fixable. I realize alcoholism is labeled as a disease and I won’t be able to understand because I’m not an alcoholic. Well, I know a guy who has the disease, was blessed with remission, and so obviously thinks the ‘disease’ is fixable.…and does something about it. I can’t help, in my naïve view of the world, but think that mixed in with that alcoholism is some a-holism. When you marry you have made a commitment and agreed to a responsibility to another human being. And if children are involved, well…there’s even a larger, more profound responsibility. In my ignorance of the disease, it certainly doesn’t seem to be very healthy or upstanding to try to drink sufficiently to forget about the responsibility. Certainly dignity needs to be restored.

I am not speaking for my friend, Mike, who thinks a drinking problem is fixable…and does something about it -- not like me who simply can’t understand. Mike and I met in high school on a double date arranged by our ‘honeys’ (put that in there so you can dismiss me easily if you wish as sexist and ignorant… if you are a true believer in political correctness). Our dates are no longer friends, but Mike and I are. Mike and I raised some hell, but I married my date at the unheard of age these days of 18, and had a child soon after, putting an end to my hell-raising that might have made me sick. (For the record this year marks our 50th year of marriage…in spite of ourselves. Oh, and six kids, eleven grands). Mike married his date a bit later, but she left him and their two kids. Alcoholism was in his genes (as well as mine), and so he had to quit drinking  . Fix it. For the kids, and himself.

In 1981, Mike acquired an old apartment building, now referred to as ‘The Mansion,’ and converted it to a recovery community of sorts. A man could live there if he previously drank too much, was a chronic visitor to detox, and maybe living on the streets…but only if he got a job and quit drinking. Hard love was employed. The program is called ‘Breakaway.’ Not breakaway from the drug, but the cycle and system that made them sick.

Mike’s second wife, Chris, also a recovering alcoholic, now runs Breakaway day to day. The Mansion currently houses 44 men, including 6 in a smaller neighboring building. More than 4,000 men since 1981 have had the opportunity to be rescued by Breakaway. That’s Mike and Chris’s mission: “Rescuing men and restoring families.” Rescuing…a good word. A good thing. Breakaway men being led back to a life of responsibility and dignity (by Chris and by the other Breakaway participants) believe they have been rescued from two isms by an angel.

A video was recently on Facebook made by a man who had his dignity back, rescued by Breakaway. It was a very heart-rendering and poignant piece. If you have any further interest in Breakaway, google it or call Chris at 612-719-7305. Neither seek accolades, but endure in their ability to help people. Once again: what is more rewarding than helping people? Which is what motivates them.