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Tori Taff talks about her journey with Russ, alcoholism, and the movie, I STILL BELIEVE

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
October 21, 2018 10:19 pm

Tori Taff talks about her journey with Russ, alcoholism, and the movie, I STILL BELIEVE

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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October 21, 2018 10:19 pm 

Tori Taff's journey with Gospel Music icon, Russ Taff, started more than forty-two years ago. Behind the music and songs that garnered Russ six GRAMMY’s and 18 Dove Awards, a terrible struggle waged in Russ’ life.   As Tori relates, Russ was a sitting duck for alcoholism. Growing up in home filled with violence and alcohol ...all kept secret...Russ’ journey into the darkness had deep roots.   Alcoholism is a chronic disease. There’s no cure, but there is a recovery. Where there’s a chronic disease, there’s a caregiver.   Tori shares her story of coming to grips with the reality of alcoholism...and with grace and strength, she clearly points others to a place of safety.     The new documentary of their life is titled I STILL BELIEVE

In theaters:  OCTOBER 30 2018:  I STILL BELIEVE

“I would encourage someone to NOT waste time beating themselves up. to not waste energy on trying to figure out a way to make the addict to stop using …because that is not your job.  And it is crazy making. You do have to take care of yourself first and foremost. And that’s not in a silly ‘go to a day-spa way.’  That is survival."

And surrounding yourself with people who understand …and SAFE people. People that you can say, ‘this is going on in my life’ …and they’re not going to running to five other people that have coffee with them and share the latest.  That’s why the program [Al-Anon] …the ‘anonymous’ programs take that very seriously …and there’s a very good reason.” -Tori Taff


Peter Rosenberger hosts a radio program for family caregivers broadcast weekly from Nashville on more than 200 stations. He has served as a caregiver for his wife Gracie, who has lived with severe disabilities for more than 30 years. His new book, “7 Caregiver Landmines and How You Can Avoid Them” releases nationally Fall 2018. @hope4caregiver

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Welcome back to the show For Caregivers About Caregivers hosted by caregiver I am Peter Rosenberger and yes I still believe and I am glad that you're with us 800-688-9522 if you want to be on the show. That was the unparalleled voice of Russ Taft and he's formed the soundtrack for so many people for just decades including mine. I've loved everything he's ever sung if he just sang road signs I'd be okay with it. And his wife Tori is joining us on the phone because they have a new movie coming out on October 30th.

It's a limited release but I think it's going to be kind of all over the place. It's called I Still Believe. They're very frank about their journey through some difficult difficult issues including Russ's alcoholism. I've maintained on this show that alcoholism is a disease it is a chronic disease and when you have a chronic disease you have a caregiver. And the principles that apply across the board whether you're taking care of somebody with diabetes, taking care of somebody with Alzheimer's, whatever caregivers that person is an at-risk individual and so Tori's here to talk about this particular issue and this movie their journey together and things she's learned along the way. So Tori thank you for being a part of the show. Welcome. You're so welcome. Thank you for asking me.

I appreciate it. Well I love when I ask you this John I got to tell you this with Tori. I said Tori it's Sunday afternoon and she you know so you just call it you don't have to come to the studio you just call it and she wrote back she said you had me at afternoon. Nice yeah. I thought that was pretty funny Tori.

Absolutely. Well listen. I know it's been a lot of years since we were on the road non-stop that I still keep rock and roll hours. Deep rock and roll hours.

Ah I'm stealing that one. Thank you again for taking the time to call in. This movie is it's going to be everywhere right? Yeah I can't remember the final count it's something it's 700 and plus theaters across the country. Fathom Events which is putting it on is owned by AMC and Regal and Cinemark.

Those type of theaters close to you and there's a a place let's see Fathom Events has theater locations as well as also has theater locations. All right well we're gonna we're gonna put all that out there and I put it up with the podcast and so forth. This is a this is a big step for you guys. I mean you're you're kind of letting people in to see everything behind the curtain aren't you? Well not everything but yeah yeah we took out those you know naked pictures of us.

You can thank me later. You know the thing is we we have not Russ's battle with addiction I guess was an open secret to the people closest to us in our lives and so and that means family as well as friends and support groups and so it in some ways people it's news to a lot of people but it's not it's very very old news to us. He was diagnosed when he was about 30 I think and so there were periods of sobriety that lasted up to 10 years at a time but then there would be a relapse and and subsequent treatment and so it it feels it sounds I think a lot more daring than it is. We're well into another decade past of recovery and so it doesn't feel as scary as maybe it should be. Ask me October 31st.

Well let me let me ask you a couple of questions. When did this become uh when did it change from just being an issue that Russ has to struggle with to an issue that you and then your family had to struggle with? Was there a defining moment for that when you realized okay this is not just Russ this is us. Right um well one thing you have to understand is that Russ learned literally at his father's knee how to hide. Russ's father was a Pentecostal minister small small church mostly family and farmer still California and he was also an alcoholic. He never received treatment.

He never had any extended period of sobriety. He would sort of I guess white knuckle it until something would tip him over and and and he would drink and and so Russ grew up with that and because it was such a small church there was a lot of hiding and a lot of covering up. When Russ started drinking and he really didn't even didn't even have any alcohol until I think he was like 26 years old as soon as he started drinking interestingly enough he as soon as alcohol was introduced into his life he started drinking alcoholically and hiding it. So um the first big uh realization was well before we had children.

It was um I keep thinking it was around when he was 30. I guess I'm I'm still a little fuzzy. One of the things trauma does to you is that you lose kind of some sense of time sometimes but as soon as as he was hiding and sneaking and hiding and so by the time I realized wait a minute there's something going on here and a family another family member had confronted him it was it became it involved me as soon as I knew we had a problem. Well one of the things I've I've come to understand that the alcoholic has to work a recovery program but so does the family member so does the person in relationship with that individual. When did that become apparent that okay no matter what Russ does no matter if he drinks or doesn't drink I've got to be healthy I've got to be in a good place I've got to have some other place where I can go and start on my own path of of sanity and emotional sobriety I guess if you will and when did that occur to you? Pretty much simultaneously and I was maybe a little ahead of the curve because I have a brilliant older brother. I'm the youngest of six kids and the oldest boy is um is Dr. Matt Pim here in Nashville and he was um psychologist you know we knew we'd need him so we grew our own and he he was uh he had been married to an addict and he they subsequently divorced and he he raised his son but um he one time Matt was that kind of person that he was he's so wise and he doesn't um there's not a lot of unnecessary verbiage and yet we're still from the same family go figure but he said um I'm going to only say this to you one time and I immediately leaned in and he said I think Al-Anon would be good for you and so I that I went and at the time I thought I was dealing with alcoholic tendencies from an alcoholic from an adult child of an alcoholic and alcoholic behavior patterns I had never seen Russ impaired or drunk so I didn't I thought we were dealing with behavioral issues that also stemmed from his depression which was also diagnosed right around the same time so there was a kind of a little hazy smokescreen there around it because a he knew how to hide really really well and b there was a lot of um behavior that you could attribute to depression and um coming to terms he had a very violent uh childhood there was there was a lot of physical violence in the home and um we weren't throwing around words like trauma then but um we certainly did later so I started going to Al-Anon before Russ was officially diagnosed and I also went to this is weird when I think of it now but I called Cumberland Heights which is a treatment center in Nashville and I knew they had a family program except and I knew it was for people whose families who had a person in in their treatment program so I called and asked and asked if I could go through the program even though I didn't have anyone in treatment and they lovingly uh in retrospect agreed to let me do that and so I went through a family program and was already in Al-Anon before we had an official diagnosis. Well that that's a tremendous blessing for you it put it did put you way ahead of the curve uh you know you guys were you know charter members almost of the the contemporary Christian and the gospel music wave that started hitting in the 70s and 80s and 90s and you know your faith is has been central to your life but what changed in the way you looked at God and more importantly the way you saw that God looked at you and through this journey of recovery and walking through this as you had to watch Russ back and forth with all these things what changed with you and your understanding your how did your theology change through this? Well it's it's an interesting question um I have to admit I would love to say that I was like Mother Teresa and nothing wavered and I was just this shiny beacon of sanity and and unconditional love but that's not the truth I was confused and angry and scared most of the time and my relation I think the the farthest away I ever got from God I never was angry at him it's it's interesting because Russ was the first treatment center Russ went to he talks about he told me afterwards and it made absolutely no sense to me then it does more now but he was furious with God and of course I was furious with Russ so I'm thinking hey you know God wasn't prying your mouth open and pouring something down your throat but he what he kept saying is this was not ever supposed to happen this was not all I ever wanted to do was sing for you all I ever wanted to do and so it wasn't so much as not taking responsibility for it on his part it was more like this this can't be happening and again he was genetically a sitting duck for the first time he introduced alcohol but a lot at the worst of times my relationship with God I was just numb and it felt like I was slogging through you know the baton death march and it was put one foot in front of the other try to do the next right thing and before children it was just about staying sane and trying to function and and after children we had had long period of sobriety before the first relapse after children and then it was a whole nother ball game I never saw God as somebody who was withholding anything good from me like he you could fix Russ why haven't you I kind of put that at the treatment center's door but it was it was it was it was it was it was well I'm sending him off to you for 30 days send it back when he's fixed um but my relationship with God changed in the sense that it it took on a very in immediacy that I maybe didn't have before and because there was a lot of times it was you know they talk about one day at a time there were times when we were in 10 minute increments there at the worst of it and and I will say this there were times I don't believe that there's a demon called alcoholism that jumps on you when you're not looking I believe that I absolutely know that it is a chronic disease I know that heredity and an environment play a huge role and what we came to understand is that trauma plays a giant role in it but it also is a spiritual battle and again our story is not one that I prayed put my hands on him and prayed and he was instantly healed or anybody else did that either we we were the go to therapy go to meetings go you know we were that couple you work at it's work it absolutely is work it is a process but I will say there were times and at the very end before he went to be treated specifically for trauma and that was when it was he was most out of control and it was the first time ironically I had ever seen him actually drunk and it was frightening he was never frightening he was never violent or but it was I was watching somebody I love self-destruct but there were times right at the end before he went to trauma treatment where I literally was next to him in bed and he was found asleep and or passed out and I had my hand on his shoulder and I was I was saying you're not going to get him you're not going to get him you've got his father you've got his brother you're not going to get him and whatever that force is that is behind destruction and and that comes to steal and kill and destroy that's who out there was a point in which it was very clear to me that that's who the enemy was and that's what I was fighting the alcoholism the disease of alcoholism was a symptom of a lot of trauma and a lot of things yeah that's that's the medication to the problem and uh and it becomes a problem but it's not the core problem it never is and you got to think if that's if that's what if that's what they're thinking is the is the solution just imagine how bad the problem is well Russ never danced on a table with a lampshade on his head his he didn't party his drinking was solitary and he wanted to get as numb as possible as quickly as possible it was to shut the voices down and so um there wasn't it was it was secretive and and alone and um dark it it was not he wasn't like a frat boy he um he was suffering and he was trying to quiet the voices well listen we got to take a break can you hang on through the break absolutely all right this is tory taff she's talking about the new movie i still believe with she and russ and their whole life uh is put on display for you to get stronger and healthier as you're dealing with this maybe in a loved one that you have with alcoholism this is hope for the caregiver this is your lifeline to a place where you can get calmer healthier and dare i say it even more joyful while dealing with some very harsh realities like alcoholism we'll be right back don't go away don't go away have you ever struggled to trust god when lousy things happen to you i'm gracie rosenberger and in 1983 i experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated i questioned why god allowed something so brutal to happen to me but over time my questions changed and i discovered courage to trust god that understanding along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs led me to establish standing with hope for more than a dozen years we've been working with the government of gana and west africa equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people on a regular basis we purchase and ship equipment and supplies and with the help of inmates in a tennessee prison we also recycle parts from donated limbs all of this is to point others to christ the source of my hope and strength please visit to learn more and participate in lifting others up that's i'm gracie and i am standing with hope welcome back to the show for caregivers about caregivers hosted by a caregiver this is peter rosenberger bringing you three decades of experience to help you stay strong and healthy as you take care of someone who is not we're talking with tori taff uh she and her husband russ have a new movie coming out called i still believe it'll be on october 30th uh one night only right tori yeah that's kind of how these fathom events do it if we have a big giant turnout they might do an encore performance maybe the next month or something but i don't know this is all new to me well let's let's try to let's try to make that happen by the way uh i was trying to get i'm forgiven queued up and we couldn't get it in time here we had a little technical difficulty so john went with the next best thing to russ which was joe cocker and uh so that's that's the closest we could find uh but this uh let's try to get the turnout because it's important that we support movies like this these russ and tori are putting their their journey out for everyone to see with the hopes of pointing you to christ and to walking in a place of health and sobriety as a family you don't just have one individual affected by alcoholism or anything else or chronic pain or anything else it's a family issue uh tori let me ask you a question if you were if you were just sitting down right now with somebody over a cup of coffee who just found this out about their loved one they're just in shell shock or whatever um what would you say to them um now remember you had a brother you had a brother who's a psychologist you you grew up in a strong christian home there are a lot of people that don't get that and they're isolated they're listening to the show right now somebody out here is listening to this right now maybe several somebodies and they don't have those kinds of things and so that's i think that's the responsibility you and i have is as people have just been through weathered a lot of storms okay now it's our turn to turn around and point the path so just share your heart with them over a cup of coffee what would you say well i can the first thing i would say is i i feel you and and i haven't walked in your shoes but i have been in my shoes in a similar situation and um and i can hold space for you and i can listen to you the second thing i would say is that for me and and my journey our journey is the only one i can reference uh with any authenticity because it's the one i walked um knowledge was power for me because russ drank secretly i felt like i was shadowboxing i could see behavior changes i could see a desperately unhappy man but i didn't have anything dependent on i couldn't say oh that's it um except depression but but it was beyond that and so finding out about the disease of addiction was really important was really important for me um i needed to know what i was up against and third um i got it you know every time i start talking about 12 step and and al-anon it's that's not a club any of us really want to join um they have a saying in al-anon that nobody gets here on a good day but the reality is no one is going to understand it no one is going to get it more than people who are walking through it and i can honestly say in however geez 30 plus years of of being in al-anon meetings i have never left a meeting i think i think i can say this without um a doubt i've never left a meeting without laughing hard at least one time and there were times when i was in al-anon meetings when i desperately needed a laugh and i could because those walls were safe um and those people understood um i wouldn't waste i would i would encourage someone to not waste time beating themselves up to not waste energy on trying to figure out a way to make the addict stop using because that is not your job and it is it's it's crazy making um you do have to take care of yourself first and foremost and that's not in a silly you know go to a day spa way that is it's survival and surrounding yourself with people who understand and safe people people that you can say this is going on in my life and they're not going to go running to five other people and have coffee with them and share the latest that's that's why the program the anonymous programs uh they take that very seriously and there's a good reason listen tori we're at the top of the hour here we may have to do this again you may have to come back here with us again sorry i was speaking in paragraphs that's all right listen i want to hear more about this the movie is called i still believe it's in theaters across the country this is russ and tori taff's story their journey this and you've just been listening to tori sharing her heart on this please support this film please support this work and if this is something you're struggling with right now tori is giving you the path if this is something that's in your life with a loved one tori has pointed you the way to it please take advantage of this today there's no need to wait today's a great day to start being a healthy caregiver today is a great day to start a recovery program tori thank you so much you're so welcome all right we'll see you next week this is hope for the caregiver hope for the you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-21 20:44:53 / 2024-01-21 20:53:02 / 8

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