The game is played like this: A series of wooden, rectangular blocks are built into a stacked, wooden castle. Three blocks are on each level of the tower. Each player, when it is his or her turn, must pull one of the blocks and place it on top of the structure without knocking the tower down. My father knocked my stronghold over. His drunken footsteps destroyed my Jenga games at the age of seven. When he was sober, we could play for hours. You could tell he was concentrating from the way his sweat glistened, dripping down his forehead. But the days of sobriety were nearly lost by the time I turned twelve. I don’t know how he became the way he was, or why, and every other day of alcoholism included no strategy and no thought of consequence. He stepped on my Jenga fortress. Like the pieces in Jenga, when we stand alone we all come crashing down. I believe that is what I did. I crashed. I saw my father falling, tripping, stumbling, slurring, drinking, dying and when he would fall, I fell twice as hard. Through my teenage years I grew colder, darker, in deeper depression. My sophomore year of high school I lost control of myself and spiraled out of control. I dated an abusive control freak, did illegal things, and ditched my passion for dance. My boyfriend at the time was the epitome of everything I hated. Drugs, alcohol, and somewhat like my father. When you are exposed to something like alcoholism for so long, I guess you start to fall into the cycle. Everyone looked at me differently, including myself. I lost best friends, I gained enemies, and I was the monster I swore I would never become. My Jenga skyscraper was now looking more like the leaning tower of Pisa. I hit rock bottom and then had an epiphany about the game of Jenga, the game of life. I realized you pick the loose bits away and try to build on them so the whole thing can be taller and more magnificent, but there are certain blocks that will not come loose no matter how bad you want them to. The more you try to stubbornly pick these blocks away the more unstable the tower becomes and in the end your world crumbles just like the Jenga tower. My father was a certain block that would not come loose, but I was stubbornly picking at him. I was angry with him for the way he was. I hated him for not wanting to play with me anymore. It hit me that no matter where his life took him that it did not mean I must follow in his footsteps. I am a better person than him. I have more to work for. My father and I will never be able to go back and change the things that went wrong in our relationship, but we still can try and fix today. I believe in togetherness. I believe in change. I believe in difference, but most of all, I believe in the game of Jenga.
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