Alcoholism runs rampant in my family.
My maternal grandfather died from it. My dad’s sister had it – which implies a paternal great-grandparent, as the disease often seems to miss a generation.
My brother is free of it, and my son. My brother’s children are still very young, but I’m betting the bug won’t show up in them.
Among all my generation, which means all my cousins, maternal and paternal, I seem to be the only sufferer.
But this scourge goes a long way back, deep in the passage of my lineage, for I have sat with my ancestors and I know that all those generations of people suffering with alcoholism comes to a point with me.
I’m on the leading edge of this family – out here on the limb, watching those before me being deeply wounded by the disease and seeing those around me just as deeply gored by living close to an alcoholic.
It’s a nasty, nasty illness but it’s not simple either in diagnosis or treatment. While I have been sober and healing these 14 years, it has become increasingly obvious that I have to be the family curandero in this matter.
For the centuries it has passed through my antecedents, no-one has done this work: the work of taking on the ancestral disease and stopping it.
And by healing and stopping it, I mean to apply the brakes in both temporal directions, so that my work in spirit here and now oscillates forward and backward in time.It means delving through whirlpools of unheeded and unhealed grief, some of it generations old. And some of it, if I cannot do this work properly, generations in the future.
Sometimes the work of this god makes me cry. But there is literally no-one else to do it, so I take it on: each day, month,year I sit in communion with the orishas, understanding what has happened here and learning always from the pain as well as the joy. I am at the point of the generational arrow and if I didn’t do it, I could not look myself in the eye.
I suppose it’s just as well that I am the family shaman, then.
Pic: from Pagan Culture