As I write this I am sitting in my favorite pub drinking a brewski.
I don’t drink a lot, but lately I have acquired a taste for ale. I am not an alcoholic-yet.
The above lines sound very much like the stereotypical alky, don’t they? “I can handle it,” they say. “I’m not an alcoholic,” they murmur.
Both Joe Clay and his wife Kirsten are alcoholics. Their fictional story-found in the classic film “The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)-is a real eye opener, and profoundly sad. They both deny their problem.
However, Joe (Jack Lemmon) finally hits bottom and begins to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Kirsten, on the other hand, stays drunk.
AA is beneath her. She refuses to grovel in front of others. She can control it.
The worst part for Joe is that he is the one who got Kirsten started on booze. She was a teetotaler before they met.
Kirsten goes on a bender and her sober husband goes to look for her. He finds her and tries to convince her to come home. Unfortunately, she convinces her husband to drink with her instead.
Joe’s AA sponsor told him this could happen. Since he is sober and Kirsten is not, she will see him as a lost partner and friend.
Finally, Joe turns his own life around for good. He is able to stay sober for almost a year. This allows him to keep a job and be a good father to his little girl.
Kirsten in the meantime is living with her father and going out with “bums” who share her addiction. Joe learns from her Dad that she disappears with these men for days at a time.
One night though Kirsten shows up at Joe’s door. “I want to come home,” she says. She tells him that she has not had a drink in two days.
After some discussion Kirsten admits that she will not get help with her drinking, though. She reverts back to the “I can control it” kind of promise, but also says that “the world looks dirty” without a drink.
Joe realizes that Kirsten will drag him back down into his own living hell if she is not willing to change. Finally, his wife tells him that he should give up on her and she leaves.
Joe heads for the door to go after her but thinks better of it, and through a window watches her walk toward a bar in the night.
His little girl wakes up and tells her Dad that she thought she heard him calling for her mother. “You were dreaming,” he tells her.
“Will Mommy ever get better?” she asks. “I did, didn’t I?” replies Joe.
With that slight sliver of hope, the movie ends. The normal Hollywood ending would have had Kirsten head to AA and reconcile with Joe. They would live happily ever after with their daughter.
However, this early 60s flick does something rare for Hollywood. It gives the viewer a good dose of reality.
While there may be hope, it is not probable that the couple will get back together given Kirsten’s refusal to get the help she needs. Joe has learned that he has to look out for his own life and that of their little girl.
Nowadays I am Joe.
I am still married, but my wife refuses to get help for her problem. It’s not alcohol, but something else I do not care to publish here.
She says she will let God take care of it. So far, to my knowledge, God has not.As a result, my family is split into a million pieces.
I too bear the same kind of guilt as Joe’s. I am constantly aware that my own behavior damaged my wife and wrecked our family for so many years.
Satan is having a field day.
Even so, the answer is not in seeking to go back to the way things were. Kirsten tells Joe that this is what she wants, but he knows that is not possible.
Neither my wife nor I want to go back to the way things were, and I believe both of us think it is not possible.
From what I’ve heard she blames me for everything. Also, I don’t think she believes I have changed. And with her dead set against taking steps other than seeking God for her own healing, then I see no possibility of us reconciling.
This leaves me with one plausible alternative. This is to trust God with my future.
I have decided that I want to be happy and I do not want to give up on the remainder of my life. Somehow I think God wants this of me as well.
David was not a perfect man by any means. Yet, God gave him victory. He writes in Psalm 21 of the victorious king (presumably himself):
You welcomed him back with success and prosperity.
You placed a crown of finest gold on his head.
He asked you to preserve his life,
and you granted his request.
The days of his life stretch on forever.
Your victory brings him great honor,
and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.
You have endowed him with eternal blessings
and given him the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord.
The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling.
The future described here is my own hope.