Sorrow

One day I’ll write about where I’ve been the past 3 years.

But for now it’s about how quickly the unthinkable and horrible can become the every day. Like how I can wake up at 5:30am on a Saturday wishing I could go back and spend more time with my cold, dead father.

On September 15, 20116 my dad took his life. The manner of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but the cause of death was alcoholism. Anyone who knows him says, “I can’t believe John would do that.” Except me. I can’t believe he’s completely gone, but I know that suicide is a real possibility for many alcoholics who find they are, for whatever reason, unable to live sober.

Must have been a few years back that he mentioned his rendezvous with terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair. I have had my own mild encounter with the four horsemen towards the end of my drinking. I remember relating to him. I wanted the conversation to say, “Yes. I get it. We have this in common. Isn’t it great we’re going to share this sobriety thing? Everything can get better now.” But I knew somewhere deep that I couldn’t possibly understand his suffering. It was so much bigger than anything I’ve known. And no human can help with that kind of pain.

Over the last 4 years there has been a growing, reluctant realization that he wasn’t ever going to get better. I wasn’t able to accept him just as he was. I pulled further and further away.

So here it is. This is alcoholism. And it wasn’t his fault. My greatest heartbreak is that he didn’t know he was forgiven, that he didn’t know how to be loved, that he never heard the good news sing inside his heart, that he couldn’t see that anything can be mended, and that I can’t do anything about it.

I love you, Dad. And I am so, so sorry.

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This Is Not My Beautiful House

Last night my almost 4 year old wanted me to rock him to sleep.  He’s not much of a cuddler these days, so I jumped at the opportunity.  I was sitting there holding him in the dark, trying to stay present and grateful, but my mind was fixating on a headline I saw come up in my Facebook feed days ago.  I didn’t click it at the time, but the beast was thirsty and I found myself there in the dark reading this article on my iPhone.  I first thought that sounded like a fun time, but they describe it as a “nightclub on wheels.”  I remembered that I hate clubs and the douchebags inside them.  Pretty sure this will be a train full of alcoholics and douchebags.  Anyway, my brain instead went off on a fantasy where I abandon my family to get drunk by myself in some seedy off-strip Vegas motel.  It’s especially strange because I’ve never even stayed off the strip.  I’d usually end a night in Vegas by vomiting in a bathroom with a plasma TV.

Just before I went off on this imaginary nightmare of a relapse, I was thinking, “How the fuck did I get here?”  How did I end up in this house with this husband and these two amazing kids?  I suddenly felt like I didn’t choose any of it.  I don’t remember how I got here.  I got kind of pissed off.  I’m an alcoholic and there is a part of me that wants to slowly kill myself in Vegas, but here I am in charge of raising these two little ones instead.  It’s often said that alcoholism is an elevator heading down and you decide what floor to get off on.  In early sobriety, I honestly felt like I wanted to ride that fucker all the way to the basement just to see what’s down there.  I was actually angry with my kids for interfering with the self-indulgent trip to hell I had planned.

I want to understand what makes me want to drink myself to death in Vegas when I have an enviable life.  I think the easy answer is self-loathing, but when I think on it, that doesn’t sit right.  So I’m sitting here thinking about the fact that right before I fantasized about running away and numbing out, I was feeling like I had been delivered a life that I didn’t choose.  I don’t understand how I got to be holding this sweet little soul in a dark room on a Sunday night in the suburbs.  It’s not what I thought my life would look like; not what I planned.  That means I’m not in control.  Oh crap that means I’m REALLY not in control!  The ego rebels.

My plan was to end the post and put up this Talking Heads song, but I looked up the lyrics and they’re even more apropos than I thought.  Today I actively turn my will and my life over to God.  I wasn’t doing that before, my life is what it is regardless of what I had planned.  In self-will, I fight the currents of the ocean making myself exhausted and miserable in the process.  No matter what I do, I’ll eventually find myself on the shore asking, “How did I get here?”  When I surrender to the currents, let the water hold me down if it needs to, I might not have to arrive tired and bewildered.

I’m Eating Chocolate Right Now

Pretty sure my keyboard is getting chocolate smudges.  I’m having a sweet attack and am just going to go with it.  I’m worried about my husband’s family in NY.  Sandy is approaching and each time we get on the phone they sound more and more scared.  My father-in-law said it is the worst storm he has ever seen and it hasn’t even touched down yet.

My dog has something wrong with her nose.  I’ve been trying to treat it for weeks and it’s getting worse.  I’m taking her to the vet in an hour and am already pissed off by the bill.  Whatever it is, and it’s always a lot, there isn’t room in the budget.

I got socked with a major drinking craving on Saturday that left me in tears.  We had an extremely rare date night planned, and I got upset that I couldn’t drink.  I played out the fantasy to then end, and even though it ended in me trying to drunkenly add up the babysitter’s money and then overpaying due to literal fuzzy math, I couldn’t shake it.  My 1st step is annoyingly solid sometimes.  Surprisingly what made me feel better was my sponsor telling me that at 16 years sober she gets craving every now and then.  She said that our natural state is to want a drink, and that made me feel like less of a freak.

So what do these three different things have in common?  Weather, illness, alcoholism?  Three things that I’m totally powerless over.  I’ve started reading Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  She was talking about control being an illusion.  The big things like natural disasters, sicknesses and oh yes, addictions smash that illusion to pieces.  It throws our powerlessness in our face, and that is quite uncomfortable.  I’ve managed to stop at 4 pieces and feel pretty satisfied.  A little chocolate and reflection goes a long way.