Thursday, July 14, 2011

Betty Ford Helped Me Make Peace with My Past

When I signed on to speak about "Making Peace with the Past" at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage I had no idea what I was in for. The large audience at the free "Alcohol and Addiction Awareness Hour" ranges from professionals in the field to folks who have only a few days clean and sober. They can be a twitchy group.

I had been warned that many people would leave during the hour and a half I was supposed to fill. The room is wide and shallow so when they get up and go they have to push past a whole lot of people to get out of their row. Right in front of me!

I knew all of that going in. What I didn't know was how hard it would be to share intimate details of my life  as an adult child of an alcoholic with a room full of alcoholics. Talk about deja vue!

I guess it always takes courage to reveal yourself for the benefit of people who do not welcome the information. Imagine what it was like for our First Lady to say "My name is Betty Ford and I am an alcoholic."

There were a couple of moments as my past seemed to blend with the present when I just wanted to walk off the stage. But I didn't.

Toward the end I shared a story about when I graduated from high school and my mother sent my father away because he was drunk.

When it was finally over, I was amazed at the crowd around the book table eagerly lining up to have me sign their copies of "Travelling Free: How to Recover from the Past by Changing Your Beliefs." A large man approached me. "That was for me," he said. "That was me at my son's graduation from high school, looking through a chain link fence with a bottle in my hand."

We hugged each other and held on for a long time. Sharing some tears, we both made peace with the past in a way we never dreamed of.

I will always be grateful to the courage and contribution of Betty Ford and the support of my friends Catherine Rush and Debra Lux who helped through that wonderful day!

The audio, "Making Peace with the Past: Recorded Live at the Betty Ford Center" and Travelling Free: How to Recover from the Past by Changing Your Beliefs" are available at

Cheering you on to peace with your past and present!