Serena Englander was born in the 1950s, the second child of well educated, but troubled parents whose first child began exhibiting symptoms of severe autism at the age of two. Being of Irish Catholic heritage, her parents produced two additional children in rapid succession -- on a small town journalist's salary.
Eventually the family relocated to the Washington DC suburbs where the fifth child was born. Economic circumstances improved somewhat over the years, but the children never had the kind of Christmases the storybooks depicted.
Throughout her childhood Serena suffered from numerous, undiagnosed learning disabilities and psychological disorders which prevented her from realizing her potential. After flunking out of her first year at university, she enrolled in a small business college where she received the individualized attention and remedial education she needed in order to discover that she was not stupid, and was in fact quite intelligent.
Serena struggled with alcohol abuse for more than four decades before realizing that her "social drinking" was actually a problem. She enrolled in an outpatient rehabilitation program when her wish to end her life became overpowering. It took Serena three years to accept the truth that she is an alcoholic and therefore can never have another glass of wine, no matter how rare the vintage or high the rating.
Living without alcohol opens the door to recovery, but it takes a process similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps in order to open one's heart, mind, and spirit to the beauty and light that surrounds us.
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