A prelude: I wrote this a couple days ago for me, fell asleep and left this on my computer. Brody, my daughter, woke up and read this when she went to do her school work on my personal computer. We hide nothing in our house. So, I wasn’t mad or even concerned when she digested this; it just gave us something to talk about. I wasn’t sure I’d share this one; but once she absorbed it, it didn’t really matter anymore. It is truth.
And truth is the only reason to write.
“I get lost in the light, so high don’t wanna’ come down
To face the loss of the good thing that I have found.”
“Revelry,” Kings of Leon (2009)
The thing you need to know about recovery is that it is not linear.
In no way, shape or form.
It is messy – oftentimes ugly – racked with self-doubt, depression and sleepless nights of self-loathing.
These nights and the days are filled with constantly lingering questions: “How did I get myself here? How did I let myself get this like this?”
“How did I get so weak?”
And these thoughts build upon each other.
They’re a seed.
You plant them.
And they grow.
Self-doubt. Lack of worth.
With each waking day, the sunlight lets them take root.
There’s no moment, specifically, where you’re a shit show.
But one day, your blood pressure is 180 over 120. You don’t want to get out of bed and you’re overweight, depressed and unwilling to face the next day.
It happens just like that.
If you choose to medicate with alcohol and drugs, you cement your status.
Spouses and family and friends can say nice things; but mostly – you’re on your own.
* * *
I’ve been up and down this road too many times.
I’ve ridden the giddy rails of optimism and sobriety.
And I’ve labored through the drudgery of alcoholism and borderline depression.
Some of these things, I didn’t put upon myself.
I didn’t ask for a child who would test me; didn’t ask for a rare neurological disorder that would defy modern science – paralyze him, leave me fighting the medical establishment – but I got it.
There’s no handbook for the recovery from that – not once, but twice.
So, we blaze our own path.
Bills must get paid. Jobs must get done well – for Heidi and I both.
Life must move on.
That’s no fucking joke.
The medical insurance: that’s the lifeline between a potentially dead kid; and one that can get better again.
These treatments are expensive.
Hold the line my brutha’ (me); keep yourself irreplaceable; get that boy through another bout.
This is what you say, until you can finally breathe.
Until you can finally turn your attention to you.
And then you drink.
And go numb.
Because, fuck, you got the one you’re responsible for through another episode.
And you’re so, so tired.
There’s brighter days.
* * *
And there are.
But they’re so, so far away.
And then one day, you realize you’re in the brighter days.
Suddenly, waking up is gift.
You look forward to coffee.
And you think about the sun. And the cold winter air.
You think about walks. And sunrises.
You do these things if you’re me.
One day they matter again.
And you feel healthy.
You stop drinking at a stupid rate.
And you say, “I’m back again.”
And you realize you’re saying this to the world: here I am.
But you’re only a step away from the shit show; from nature’s plan. From the universe throwing you back to a year ago.
Next time, I’ll respond differently, you say.
But will you?
The evidence points to ‘no.’
* * *
But here we are, nonetheless.
It’s been almost a year since Guillain-Barre 2.0 and I’m doing better. We’re doing better.
Most nights, we go to bed at the same time: 9:30 p.m.
Most nights, my sister doesn’t have to chastise me for 1:30 a.m. blog posts.
I’ve only touched alcohol four times in the last month. I’ve exercised a lot more. My blood pressure is a wonderful 118 over 71.
I know these things because I know – I know I was killing me. And I know that the people that cared and paid attention were asking important questions about what was going on.
* * *
But here’s what I know, too.
And here’s what you know.
I’m not alone.
You’re in the same boat. You, kids, spouses, mom, dads, grandmas and grandpas.
You’re all in the shit show.
And if you’re not yet … you will be. Or you might be.
Your vice may not be my vice.
But you have a coping mechanism.
And you will give into it.
Or … maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ve been down this road; lived it enough times to finally end the cycle.
I hope you have.
* * *
So now we’re back to the present.
All optimism and the such.
How can I be in such a good place, you might ask, and write with such ominous tones?
It requires discipline.
Respect for brain chemistry.
There’s too much failure on all sides of my genetics.
So, I drift.
Slide, slide, slide.
Get to bed early. Lay off the juice. And have faith that sobriety can lead me towards happiness.
I’m not afraid to talk about this; about my weaknesses.
Yes, I can be an alcoholic. Yes, I can be sober.
Yes, I can straddle a fine line between both.
Yes, I can be the regular guy you see in all the places you see me.
But this is who I really am.
Trying to make sense of it all.