Spoken Word Superstars

In Opinion, Opinion/Personal, Personal, Recommendations on May 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Almost everyone can tie themselves to alcoholism.  Either you have a family member who has battled it in the past, or still currently is, or you had a friend growing up with a parent who struggled with it.  For those of you fighting it yourself, I give you a virtual handshake.  While I have not struggled with an addiction, I have seen others and I know how difficult it can be.

Alcoholism runs in my family, both sides.  Both ym grandfathers were alcoholics.  My mother’s father quit drinking before I was born, but I caught bits and pieces of stories growing up from the bad days.  I witnessed how much his drinking and behavior while intoxicated still affected my family, despite his being sober.  It was obvious that fixing the problem may not always cancel out the conseuences.  My father’s father never beat his addiction to alcohol and, also before I was born, passed away.  Again, through family stories, I was made aware that his alcoholism maifested itself in 1-2 week long benders every couple of months or so.  During his last week long bender, he took his own life.

Both my mother and father were alcoholics.  In all honesty, I have no real relationships with my father.  I haven’t spoken to him in probably 3 years at this point.  From my limited experience with him, he can maintain a job and manage his bills, but any free time is spent with alcohol.  He has stated in the past that he does not believe he has a problem, but at the same time will explain away already being drunk at 1 pm by stating that he has to “get his body going and get his blood pumping somehow.”  To me, that indicates a problem.

My mother claims to this day that I saved her life.  I was an unplanned pregancy, but upon finding out that she was pregnant, my mother made herself stop all her bad habits.  No smoking, no drinking.  She stated that nothing was about her anymore and every decision she made was to already protect and provide for her baby, for me.  I can recall one night, I think maybe it was a school reunion.  I remember staying with my grandmother that night while my mother went out to meet all her old classmates.  I recall her coming home late that night.  I remember sitting on the kitchen counter while she talked with my grandmother.  That is all.  What I do not remember was the following day, when the reunion had a picnic for families.  My mother took me and one of her old classmates made a comment in front of me about my mother throwing back many drinks the night before.  I was around 8 or 9 I think, at this time, and growing up in my grandmother’s southern pentecostal home was still something my young mind was trying to understand.  To me, any alcohol, or even cigarettes, meant you were going to hell because they were bad things, bad for you, and therefore must be related to sin and hell.  My mother stated that I looked at her in complete fear and sadness and asked her if she had been drinking the night before.  Like I said, I don’t remember us having this conversation, but putting pieces together of the way my mind worked during that time, I can only assume that I was terrified that my mother was going to hell, not fully understanding the depth of her history of drinking or of alcoholism in general.  My mother told me that the look on my face was so painful that her reunion was the very last time she even picked up a drink because she did not want to upset me again.

It is all too common for families to have stories such as these, with multiple family members having histories and battling alcoholism.  I was lucky.  Yes, my paternal grandfather committed suicide.  Yes, my maternal grandmother had terrible relationships with his children and a somewhat strained relationship with my grandmother due to his decisions and behaviors when he was still drinking.  But I was never personally involved in any of these things.  I never had to deal with my parent battling alcoholism in front of me.  I can’t imagine how hard that must be.

Even without my own personal comparison, it was not hard for me to feel emotional when I stumbled upon this Youtube video.  Patrick Roche delivers his own experience with battling alcoholism in such an imaginative way of counting down his life experiences from age 21 to before his birth.  I know when I read the mini-description, I thought, “How can this be effective in getting an emotional reaction, or any reaction, if you start at the end?”  I couldn’t figure out how knowing how the story within the first actual line of the story could ever work.  But then I watched the video.  The way the words are formed, with so much passion, matching the age in which he is representing.  Some of the smallest lines that alone would not mean anything, after hearing the rest of the poem, hit so heavy.  (Example: When he talks about what he wants to be when he grows up).  Everyone needs to see this video, hear this poem.  Listen to it twice, maybe even three times.  Once is not enough, and if you are a lover of words and literature and a powerful delivery and message, you will find yourself watching it multiple times like I did.  I didn’t want to miss one tiny detail in his expression, his tone, the words he chose to use, because it all made this such a powerful thing.

So please, I encourage everyone to watch and share this video.  Not only is this guy amazing at poetry and delivering a performance, but he also deserved mega kudos for sharing such a hard story with the world.

More of Patrick’s poetry, along with other amazing performances by other amazing people, can be found on the Youtube channel for Button Poetry.  I haven’t been able to delve into as deep as I would like yet, but I would also highly recommend watching “Pass On” by Michael Lee.  If you’re human at all, have a tissue handy…


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