Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist in the Bible. My papa wanted me to be like him, anointed in the spirit and the father of important men. That’s how I got my name. My papa is a preacher at a big church in Texas. His work is sharing the word of God. His ministry reaches all around the world, to places like Sri Lanka and Uganda, where church volunteers go to feed the hungry and share God’s message. He also likes to keep a young woman on the side from time to time, which my momma tolerates out of love for Jesus and a commitment to her wedding vows. I think my father is a hypocritical son-of-a-bitch. I only keep his indiscretions secret out of deference to my momma, who is as much a saint as my father is a sinner.
I rebelled against this hypocrisy, proving my disdain for everything my father is. I smoked, drank, watched pornography, went to strip clubs – you name it. If it would piss my father off, I did it. Of course he disowned me, but I seethed with rage even when he was out of my life and kept doing what I had been doing all along. His church prayed for me, waiting for the prodigal son to return home. The more they prayed, the more I caused mayhem. I got arrested for brawling. I vandalized church property and sometimes took a little money from the collection to pay for drugs. I waited for God’s judgment.
My momma had a stroke. My father blamed me and my wayward lifestyle. My momma, unable to care for herself and not trusting my father to slow down his schedule, asked me if I would get clean at least long enough to help her when she got home from the stroke rehab center. I couldn’t say no.
Being the rebellious type, the first two rehab centers I went to didn’t take. It was too easy to work the system and I liked my papa blowing a gasket every time he wrote a check and then I relapsed. But my momma’s health deteriorated. I thought she might die and she needed a clear-headed son to help her, so I agreed to go to Cliffside. I’d seen their ad on TV. I remembered the “We guarantee it,” part and figured if anyone could help me, it would be them.
At Cliffside Malibu, they don’t accept games. You either want to get better or you don’t, and if you don’t, they show you where the door is. They’re compassionate about it, but there are enough people who want the beds that if you’re not going to take advantage of what they have to offer, they will wait until you’re serious. Something about that made a change in my attitude, knowing that they cared enough about each client to make a real investment of time in each of us.
My momma did the family portion of the therapy on Skype. We each got home at the same time from our respective treatment programs. My papa, well, all this changed him too. He quietly gave up his infidelities, committing himself both to my momma and to me. He spent less time at the church and more time with us. We got momma a nurse, but I moved back into the house anyway to help until she can do a little more on her own. We’re not a happy family and my papa and I still get into it now and again, but we’re all trying. No one can do better than that.