Our interview with Rebecca Loren Kelterborn who contributed The House That Booze Built
Question 1: Were you affected by an alcoholic family member as a child? An adult? Both?
Question 2: How did it affect you?
One of my earliest memories is sneaking my ‘Aunt’ out of our back door to escape her husband, who was a drunk, that used drinking as an excuse to be violent. She lived a few doors down from us, and my Mother wanted to help her, I can still see the bruises on her cheek.
My mother also had a friend when I was young, that was the kind of man who so desperately needed the escape of alcohol that he would drink perfume, or mouthwash when the booze ran out. He was a kind, loving man when he was sober, but I remember him calling so many times drunk, and disorderly, looking for my Mom to help him get sober again. Sometimes to yell at her. It was sad to watch someone I cared about be that ill, it also terrified me to know him as the sweet, beautiful artist, who could become an angry, aggressive monster so quickly.
When I was 24, my Mother met a man who she would later marry, and that became a father to me, who struggled with alcohol addiction. That life that we carefully built for ourselves, our family was ruined, by the person the alcohol made him. Although he never physically struck myself, or my mother, I often wish he had. Physical wounds can heal, but scars on the heart last forever. It truly is an illness that destroys, lives, families and relationships. The aftermath of dealing with an alcoholic has ricocheted through our entire family, causing rifts between members, and breaking bonds we thought were unbreakable. It’s extremely difficult to pick up the pieces of your life when someone you thought loved you is the person who broke you.
Question 3: If you could tell someone something that would help them when dealing with an alcoholic family member, what would it be?
Seek help, not for them, for yourself. They can only change if they want to, you cannot force them to seek treatment, but you can help to heal yourself by speaking with a counselor. You may find feelings buried that you simply didn’t know were there, eating you alive.
It’s not wrong to distance yourself if you have to. Alcohol addiction can turn someone you love into a monster you don’t know, it’s okay to admit you need help and to seek it out for yourself.. You do not have to go through it alone.
Question 4: What gives you the biggest joys and happiness in life, what would you say is your greatest achievement?
The stage, writing and singing are what bring me the most joy. Having my work picked up for this blog spot is a high achieving moment for me, I am incredibly excited to begin sharing my work in a new, and exciting, way for me. I would have to tie this experience with founding and running my theatre troupe That’s My Cue Productions successfully for the past 4 years for my crowning achievements at this point.
Question 5: When you wrote “This is The House That Booze Built” what was going through your mind then, what about now?
Pain, to put it simply. Alcohol tore my family, and my life, apart. My step-father is a brilliant, kind, generous man, full of love, and caring, but when he is drinking he is someone I don’t know, or want to know. The poem is so poignant to me because of it’s honest simplicity.
Reading it now, it brings back the memories of the day our proverbial house fell in. Even all this time after, we’re still scrambling to pick up the bricks, and make some semblance of a shelter, but the house cannot be rebuilt, all that remains are memories.
Question 6: Is there anything else you would like people to know?
You’re not alone. Whether you are hiding from the effects of addiction in your life, or people are aware, you are not alone. There are people who can, and will help you.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people who love you, and to take steps to protect yourself, and your mental health.