"Biting Back takes a compelling look at self-care, setting boundaries, and protecting ourselves from friends, loved ones, enemies, and sometimes even ourselves. Written in a page-turning and warm style, Claudia’s refreshing addition to the self-help shelves offers empowering solutions to effectively remind us to stop inviting troubleinto our homes and souls." -- MELODY BEATTIE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CODEPENDENT NO MORE


The Prodigal Vampire: Finis

I was thinking about it as I was trying to get to sleep last night and I just know -- sure as you're born -- that some nice person out there reading my last post came to the end of what I'd written and had to have been at least a little put out by it.

"That’s not how the story of The Prodigal Son ends," they probably said to themselves, and, " I can’t believe she just dropped it that way– like the father threw this big party and then everyone was happy, and that was the end of it!"

Anyone who loves that other son as much as I do, I think, would have had to have noticed the missing ending -- and besides, it's only fair to finish a good story once you've started it. So here's what happens:

When the other son sees all this – the party, the killing of the fatted calf, the whole production – he goes to his father and says, “Hey, you know what, Dad? I’ve never asked you for my inheritance and then blown it all on prostitutes and wild living. I’ve stayed with you this whole time, working in the fields and behaving myself, and never once have you thrown a party for me. Never once have you killed a fatted calf for me or brought out any beautiful robes or anointing oils for me – so you can just forget about my coming to your little party. I think I'll just stay out here in these fields and keep working, if it's all the same to you."

To which the father responds: “You are my son, and everything I own is yours – all of this and everything for as far as the eye can see, belongs to you.

"But this is also my son, " he tells him, "who was lost, and now is found.

“So please,” he says, “come to party.”

Which the other son does. And I like to think he had a pretty good time, too.

The End.

When I was first recovering from my alcoholism and beginning on my journey to find a God of my understanding to help me recover and put my life into some kind of order – one personal to me that I could feel – it was a very difficult time for me. I began with nothing I could see or understand, hadn’t the least interest in seeking help with it from organized religion, and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to begin to find this God.

It’s a long story, but the point I want make here is that there have been times in my life when I’ve felt like the son who squanders his God-given fortune and anticipates the worst because of it, and other times I’ve felt like the good son who’s been behaving himself all along and then feels he isn’t getting near enough credit for it.

I believed at one time that if I just kept trying to be “good,” God would let me know that they (she/he/it) approved of me and would finally love me, too. I would see other people I felt were misbehaving terribly and listen with real indignation when they would speak of a God they knew in their lives who loved them.

I would think: “Well shit, what’s up with this party that God’s giving for them? No one’s been killing any fatted calves for me! And here I am, being so good!”

Anyway. That’s why I love the other son so much. And that’s all I’m going to say about it, too.

There is one more thing I’m going to say, and it’s really just a disclaimer, for what it’s worth: I am not a Christian or member of any organized religion. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I’m no more or less a Christian than I am more or less anything else, religiously speaking... but I sure do love a good story.

And I think that -- like screaming along to the noisiest and rock and roll, or like a slow trip through a museum of modern art, or like the attentive working of a jigsaw puzzle with my daughter, or like holding hands with my husband and knowing it – a good story is as fine as anyplace to find God.

As my hero Kurt Vonnegut once said: "Love is where you find it," and I would say that it is the same way with God.

Or rather, that it is the same thing with God -- the exact same thing, in fact.


jjdebenedictis said...

Great post again. You made me tear up a bit. :-)

claud said...

Aw shucks, Jen. You sweetie.

Do you know the story, and do you like the story, I wonder? Or is it just a thing with me?

Camellia said...

I've always been partial to that other son, too, just like Martha, and I think I would have liked it a lot better if Jesus had said, sit,Martha, and then we'll all cook later, and clean the kitchen, too. And I wonder how Milton's daughters felt about that line, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Yeah, blind Daddy,easy for you to say. Perhaps the good sons only stop ranting when they find that personal god, over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. This is so beautiful, and so true.

I am both sons, myself. And I love them both, too, and I see exactly what you are saying here. It feels so true to me, in my heart.

This is such an amazing post, Claudia. Your writing just gets better and better. It's an honor to watch it all happen; thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts so openly, with such tenderness.

Claud/PVS said...

Hi Camilla,

I wish I knew the stories you're referring to better, but I'm going to have to look them up before daring to comment :)

As to the good son -- I always felt he needed to see there was enough of the father to go around and that his story could never be his brother's story -- that their lives were different and comparisons would never serve him (I've been told this myself so many times in my recovery -- to quit comparing myself, it's no wonder that's how I see it! -- and that, in any case, all the father owned was his. That was a LOT! Thanks for coming back, Ms. C!

And Jennifer: thank you, old pal. Especially since I practically twisted your arm!! :) Good old me!

Jaye Wells said...

I usually fall on the side of the "good" son. But I've learned over the years that being good has its own rewards, even if other people are getting the parties.

Claud said...

Hi Jaye you old faithful!!! I've been away a couple of days, busy with appts...

But I agree with you that being good does have its own rewards, as you say and as the father says, too: "All I own is yours." And as for parties, it seems that it's just a matter of agreeing to go to them, whether their "ours" or not.

Angela said...

Okay. Now you're making me cry. I can't tell you how good this writing is, Claudia. Just excellent.

M. said...

It occurs to me that the good son must have also realized that his brother will still be broke, party or no, whereas he'll still be well-off thanks to his hard work and character.

Glad to see you're doing well, Claudia.

Claudia said...

M, M, M!!!! So good to see you!! And 'tis true, what you say.

Hope all is well with you. I promise to stop over soon. I'm the worst these days.


Anonymous said...

Claudia Dearest -- What a grand reading - It has been a very long time since my last catching up with your beautiful writing. As always you
are inspiring. Thank you again for sharing your gift. Your approach to healing is not a surprise to me. Your growth is admirable. It is a gift to me to know you. Love as always

Camellia said...

I never did come back to explain my stories, but I do check every day to see how you are. How are you? Also I'm rereading your blog, because it's one I recommend to everybody.

Claudia said...

Well I just don't know what to say, Camellia, this is so kind of you. I have had some ups and downs lately but I am coming near the end of the chemo, and that is really exciting. Thank you so much for checking in, I'll be up and writing soon!!!

Keli said...

This is lovely! I think we all struggle between squandering and behaving, and in order to find peace, must find a middle place where we think carefully and kindly and watch over ourselves and know there is a higher source doing the same.
You sound like a strong, aware person, and I wish you the very best in regaining your perfect health.

claud said...


Hi there and thank you! I've been away for awhile...actually devoting all my energy to my book for now, but thank you for stopping over and commenting!


Mike Evans said...

wow you havent changed a bit since school

Anonymous said...

You're not a Christian? Then why are you a member of All Saints Lutheran Church?


Claudia said...

Hi Debbee, and: Huh???

Anonymous said...

Did you say this:

Name: Claudia Cunningham
Comments: I want to express my sadness at Smitty's passing. He and the band gave me such great pleasure in my youth which continues on to this very day. Their energy, sense of fun and plain talent were apparent for all to see. My greatest regret is that they did not have the chance to reunite. In my opinion they should never have stopped recording. Hopefully, Mike ("Smitty") is in a better place and we will all reunite up the road. I believe it. And I think Smitty himself will tell you that it's true. Claudia
Date: 3/13/2001 07:36:47


Claudia said...

No darlin'. Sorry, you must have me confused with another Claudia Cunningham.

Good luck finding her, and thanks for stopping in anyway!


funforager said...

Hi Claud
I just love the way you personalize a good story.The Prodigal Son must be one of the most quoted Bible stories,or maybe tied with Job (my favorite).

There are just so many good stories and like the rest of this bunch, I can't wait for your book because it is going to be chock full of them!

You post almost as seldom as I do!!! You have much better reasons, too. Keep doing what you're doing. It's really working. Love, j

Neal Brown said...

Claudia, your blog is very moving. I'm struck by your warm heart and straight-forward honesty. I am sorry for the hurdles you've faced but happy for those lucky enough to call you friend. I'm really looking forward to reading that book! Hey, you dont know where a guy can get an autographed wooden stake do you? :^)

pvslayer said...

Thanks for coming over, Neal. And thank you for saying such nice stuff. I'm more happy than I can say to have you in my life again.

pvslayer said...

And Jul, thank you too for coming over. To readers: Jul(funforager) was my first...well, actually second but REALLY important Watcher. (Watcher=Advisor to vampire slayer). You'll be seeing her in the book.

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