A young girl walked down the stairs of her house on a Monday morning before school. Everyone had gone to work already except her dad.
She walked by the living room to find her dad passed out on the couch. This was a normal view lately; he would become depressed and drink to numb the pain. No matter what she said or what she did, he ended up drinking and laying on the couch. So she proceeded to walk passed him as she did every morning during these episodes.
As she walked to the kitchen, she noticed her unconscious dad was holding his phone in his hand. Then his hand moved up slowly and he grunted as if he was trying to tell her something.
She walked over to the phone and 911 was typed on the screen. She looked up at her dad in panic and asked, “Dad, why were you calling 911?” He didn’t answer. She shook him and shouted the question this time. “Dad?! Dad!” she added. No response.
She grabbed the phone and pressed send. The operator answered and the girl started crying on the phone. “My dad has been drinking and he’s not responding. He tried to call 911 on his phone so something’s wrong,” she said in between cries.
The operator told her that they would send a paramedic out, and asked if her dad was breathing. The young girl stared at her dad’s chest in hope and watched it go up and down slightly. She heard his breath faintly. She told the operator he was breathing and laying on a recliner. The operator then asked her to try to get him off the couch and lay him flat on the floor before the paramedics got there.
The girl put the phone down and as she was crying, she began to pull her dad’s limp body off the recliner. “Please don’t die,” she whispered in fear. “Please God help him,” she said as she pulled his legs as hard as she could to get him on the floor.
His body began sliding off the couch and his head slammed on the bottom cushion. Her dad’s eyes suddenly opened and the girl shouted, “Dad!” in relief. “Are you ok? Why’d you call 911?” A blank stare fell on her dad’s face and he didn’t say a word.
The girl picked up the phone and told the operator that his eyes were open, then she heard a knock at the door. The paramedics rushed in to check her dad’s vitals.
Fifteen minutes went by as they checked to make sure he was ok. Her dad was visibly drunk, but his eyes were still open and he slowly responded to the paramedics’ requests.
The young girl stood against the living room wall staring at the ground, trying to process what just happened. She really thought he was going to die this time.
A paramedic came up to her and asked if that was her dad. “Yes,” she said, still staring at the ground. “Does he drink a lot?” he asked. “A week straight this time,” she responded.
Then the paramedic said three words that she’ll never forget: “Stop the cycle,” he replied. She looked up at him with curiosity. She saw the sincerity in his eyes, as if he knew exactly what she was feeling at that moment; as if he had an alcoholic father too. Looking straight in her eyes he repeated, “Make sure you stop the cycle.” She cracked a slight smile in appreciation for the advice. “I will,” she said with confidence.
Alcoholism, addiction, abuse, dysfunction, depression; the list of pain we can endure goes on. We cannot change our parents’ behavior or what has happened in the past. But our parents’ habits and dysfunctions aren’t ours. So maybe it’s time for us to: stop the cycle.