36th Mill Valley Film Festival Opening Night F...
36th Mill Valley Film Festival Opening Night Film “Nebraska” (Photo credit: diginmag)

“No, he just believes what people tell him.” 

This quote is a son’s succinct response when someone inquires as to whether his father has Alzheimer’s. When you think about it, until proven otherwise, don’t we all tend to believe what people tell us? Or maybe we want to believe what people tell us.


Nebraska is filmed in black and white, even the movie’s poster is stark bare with just a profile photo of the main character, Woody Grant, played by 77 year old Bruce Dern. You can enjoy the movie trailer.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

As is so often the case, when we see a movie preview we have a preconceived notion of the story line. Maybe we believe, because we want to believe. We soon learn that the story being told, like life itself, is not black and white, but many shades of grey.

A journey taken by an adult child of an alcoholic…

You can read many reviews of Nebraska. For sure the critics like it very much and it has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. One reviewer chose to offer that a problem with the film is that nothing really happens. On the contrary, it may just be that the story being told here is that of an adult child of an alcoholic who takes an eye opening journey with his father; and along the way he learns more about what his father is really about in three or four days…than all he had pieced together in the previous 30 years.

Cottonwood Tucson works with adult children of alcoholics

In both our Family Program and our InnerPath Retreats Cottonwood Tucson’s staff often work with adult children of alcoholics. We often refer our patients or their family members to ACA, a World Service Organization.

Often, families come into family week fearful, angry, distraught and obsessed. Their interactional pattern is focused around the illness or chaos of a single member, and their ability to care for themselves emotionally, and sometimes physically, can be seriously compromised. In these families, the interactional patterns are stuck and unhealthy behaviors have become logical. Family program is based on the theory that all behaviors are logical and learned. Family program is designed to shift an unhealthy set of logical behaviors to a healthy set of logical behaviors: to create new patterns of behavior that allow for the recovery of the family and its loved one.

Rokelle Lerner, the InnerPath clinical director, authored a book Daily Affirmations For Adult Children Of Alcoholics. She offers the following:  “As adult children of alcoholics, we can continue to remain in the past and believe the negatives that we were taught; or we can change our beliefs with affirmative thoughts that can set us free into better and more expansive experiences. What we choose to believe will ultimately rule our world.”

Some final thoughts…

In 2005 the film The Upside of Anger was produced. If you have never seen it, take a peek…you won’t be disappointed. In the closing scene one of the daughters speaks about anger and truth…

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.

Don’t be afraid to take the journey.

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