Merry Christmas to all. Tis the season and I myself relish in it every year. Giving with a "Chapter 5" badge in my pocket. Sharing to all "how it works" as an authentic chip carrying AA Big Book 12 Step member..This year was no different. I had the honor of speaking at a small Big Book meeting Christmas evening. The day went well for me actually. Plenty of family smiles from those who were at one time afraid to be in the same room with me sober or not. Good stuff really. Then the ability to put together a big pile of stuffed animals for the Dementia unit at Catholic Memorial. Huge blast of gratitude there. I got a few nice presents for those close to me also. Very grateful for that too. Big brunch and good grace at the table before we all dug into a great meal. Yep. It was a good celebration. A great way for those of us who believe and those who don't to share our good graces in the name of the Christ.
The next day? Not so great. The emotional hangover hit hard. I was visited by the ghost of Christmas past as soon as I opened my eyes. It was "my" past. Mine alone. My self centered life of denial, of unresolved issues that made up the fabric of my existence. It came over me as if it was there waiting for me to wake. Staring at me as I sleep. Waiting to spring. As if in the shape of nothing. I was visited by the ghost of myself, I was the nothing. I was empty, small and inferior. Insignificant to those that mattered yet large enough for the rest of the world to see. As if once again caught. Busted for a crime I was unaware of. Trapped in the fear.
MY EX-WIFE was there first. The one I never think about actually. I usually need to think for a moment to remember her name. She looked good, happy. Proud of herself as she made a few smart financial decisions. I was there too. Looking into her eyes I offered her no support. Nothing. I was her husband, yet was never her friend, never her confidant, never a partner. So selfish, I only saw what she had that I didn't. Her new additions to my life. She did this before me, without me and I was afraid. Insecure. Jealous. Was she in charge? Did she have control? I wanted my piece of whatever she had. What was hers was mine and what was mine was mine. Soon enough she left me and took my sick insecure self with her. It was a horrific time. I was all alone again. Left searching for someone to steal some security from. Anyone new? Maybe some old girlfriend that loved me? There was no one.
Oh well, one bad memory. I can deal with this. Time to get up. It wasn't too difficult to let her go this morning. Let myself off the hook. Chalk it up to a time when I too was a victim of circumstance.
I SAT UPRIGHT on the bed as if that would surely make it all go away. I just needed some new stimulus. Get up and start moving. I knew that much. I could shock myself out of my negative head.
No. As I looked at myself sitting upright in the stand up mirror? I saw my grandfather again. I saw him as he was the time many years ago shortly before he died. I saw him in my reflection. Scary really? Same body, same face and hair. He was back. It's a reoccurring vision with me that I blame on the mirror by the bed.. I saw him sitting upright on his bed staring at the floor as if shut down, turned off yet upright. My grandmother behind me saying leave him be right now. Bill isn't feeling well. The tattooed memory wasn't of him now. It was me. I wasn't feeling well and was surely near death just as he was. The end is near. Whatever..I don't care today. I'm just going to move through this right now. My head can be complete mush and still I can move about. I wanted to. I tried. But it wouldn't stop and cut deeper and deeper. It cut my legs out from under me. It cut my vocal chords and I couldn't call for help.
MY SON? My beautiful young blond haired blue eyed son is here? No...Stop. Leave him out of this please. How I failed him. The love in my heart he never felt that simply rotted away over the years. My heart had rotted away long ago with the ink on his last fathers day card. I could no longer feel. I truly was the failure. Ok, I am convinced, can this stop now? Please? I give up. Don't beat me with my son, not now.. Not today after Christmas. I get it! Yes I am the loser who gimped along, broken, stunted into their fragmented manhood. I gave it my best. I tried my hardest. I couldn't even take care of myself. Fine! It's no secret.
MY OWN FATHER was right about me. Everyone must know by now. He told me I was a nothing and a mistake so everything I do is a mistake too. Makes perfect sense. No, not this memory again. Had I never been born he at least would have married the one he would eventually love dearly that never had a chance because of me.. But no. It is all my fault. All his failures are on me. How he sacrificed his career because of me. His words resonated in and through me. I hated him for that. I hated myself because I believed him, his words were more important than mine. Everybody's were. I hated the power he had over me. Hurt on top of hurt. But that was old news. I was used to this pain really. Maybe this was over now. I sat there for a minute and everything seemed to calm down. Good. Take a break Daddy. Go away. Stay away.
Now I'm mad.. really mad. But it's just raw anger directed at anything. I hate everything. I hate myself, my life and everybody in it!
OK THEN. I stood up and was planning a short trip to the smell of the waiting coffee pot. I'll just keep my mouth shut and avoid people until this all blows over. This rage thing going nowhere for no reason. WOW.. That wake up call is over, an obvious wrong number. So let the day begin with a new me! I'm up and going for it! I need to get away from myself. Away from this room, this bed. On to something new. Get up and out. Get some air!
My knee hurt terribly as I put the weight on it. My shoulder too as I strained with my robe. I saw myself pulled back into my life, it hadn't gone far. My age, my labor trade. The many warnings that came and went as I continued in desperation to make the days pay. Week to week. Getting ahead seemingly by default. Having material things I could hardly afford that would somehow make me normal. At least look normal. Prove others wrong. Prove I'm not a loser. A failure. But my failing body was leaving too soon. I was broke. The mortgage, truck repairs, the financial insecurity fell like an iron curtain. Reality. I am failing here in spite of my will to keep going.. I can't support my partner. I have no nest egg to fall back on and she must be disappointed in me, in herself for choosing me. She could do better. She should do better. Look at all my failures, all those who moved on to better than me. I shouldn't deny her. I should just pack a few things and leave. Go away, far away.
NO... I need to believe her when she says she loves me. When she says everything is going to be alright. Yes, I must believe her. I've got to believe her when she says I'm a good man.. I can't trust my own thinking. I will always end up hating myself. It's what I do, I hate. Making myself pay for being the loser I am by first blaming others and when that doesn't work? I blame myself, punish myself with hate..Just plain hate. I hate everything equally. The hate comes and the hate goes just as fast.
I am really losing it today. Gone man.
THE COFFEE IS STRONG and I'm back to the bedroom for a break in my madness. A bit relieved really. I may have beat the horrors for now anyway .The coffee will make things right. Wake me up! Any minute now I'll be on my way into a productive day. Damn man, it's cold out today. My daughters comes to mind in a brief wave. Is she warm? It sure is cold outside today. Sure she is. Shure they are. Oh no.. Another ex-wife. Stop thinking right now! No not her, not today. I treated her like crap. I am crippled with guilt and shame. How could a man be so immature at 20 years old. I was probably the worst thing to ever happen to her. I know I was the worst thing. She said I could have been anybody that morning after my last chance. She knew. She was a smart woman, I needed her smarts and took them as my own. Look at me! I'm married to a smart girl! Does my father like me now? Am I still a failure to him? No, I was an idiot, a hopeless loser still. The same old failure at life. The emotionally stunted 15 year old man with no coping skills whatsoever only now 5 years later. I knew how to go to work and I didn't even know why or what to do with the money. I just went to work as if everything would be ok. As if a ten year old with a paper route could be a husband and a father.. How to love? Show any compassion or support? No. Another failure that this time, took hostages. These poor people. Victims really. I wish I would just die. Why am I still alive? I just don't know...
Enough! That's enough! This needs to stop! Right now.
JUST STOP this racing mind. This negative garbage whirling around in my head. I don't want to hurt anybody, I just want to live. I know.. I'll drive up to New Hampshire to the grocery store in Franconia. I'll fill the family pantry basket in the window. People there are grateful. It will rub off on me. Then I'll feel better as if I'm finally doing something right. That's it then. I'll give back! I won't tell anyone. I'll get a tank of gas, be there in three hours and turn around and come home. Yeah. Nobody will know. This will be my thing.
Well, maybe go check on my property while I'm up there. My trusted AA friend Warren bought the parcel next door. My Step 10 buddy. Warren died. Warren is dead. I don't even know where he's buried. Some friend I am. And my best friend George. He's dead. I don't know where he is either. My best friend. My drinking pal Steve is dead. My mother and father are dead. My Uncle who treated me good, shot himself in the head. Dale's gone. Everybody's dead..Why am I still here? I've never done anything worth living for. Why me! Why did George die.. He was by far a better man than me. God I hate myself and my pathetic self pity. I am a nothing going nowhere.
I've got to get dressed and get out of here now!
The TV is making commercial noise. I have no idea what I was watching yet I welcome it anyway. It's company. I don't want to do anything today. I can't do anything today. Maybe just hang with my friend the TV. I am hopelessly alone in my head. If I could just get rid of my head? Yeah! But I can't. I tried my whole life. Isolating as a young kid. When I was finally old enough? Drinking it away, I passed out every night for years hoping it would be gone the next day. All the high powered drugs, morphine especially. Shut me down, make me go away for just a few hours please. Let the addiction take me away for days, months, years. Running away from myself. My failures. I can't do it. I can't make it go away. I'm a drunk and then I wake up a failure again. I always wake up. I can't stay drunk around the clock. I hate myself just as much as everyone hates me. As if I don't matter. All that matters is what others think as if I only live in what I think they think.. I just can't care enough for myself to care for myself. I am a hopeless alcoholic. I'm an alcoholic.
ALCOHOLIC. Hey..I'm an alcoholic. I go to AA. I'm supposed to be waking up to my Step 11. The Big Book 12 Steps. Yeah right, page eighty something. The directions for alcoholics to live sober. Eighty five? six? Forget it, it's too late for any of that spiritual mumbo jumbo to work today, I'm too far gone. I'm not worth it. Maybe if I was into it an hour ago? Yeah but not now. I can't even think now. My head is racing uncontrollably around and around from horror show to horror show. I just want to lay here in bed and watch TV. Wait for some movie to distract me , make my mind go away. Make the world go away. Why should I even care, I don't matter. I am a nothing going nowhere. Just like my father called me. He nailed it. I am truly a failure to society. I'm a failure at everything. Oh, c'mon.. Not the daddy garbage again!
Maybe I'd be better off if I found some bar somewhere and drank. I could hide there and drink. Park my truck out back like the old days. Get hammered till I was asked to leave. Drink until they said I'd had enough. Then just go out back and sleep in the truck and open the place up the next morning. Drink with the old guys from the war who appear out of no where and sit quietly at the bar staring at the TV. If needed I can go get sick in the men's room and come back to the bar holding the first few down. Nobody minds at that early hour. Yeah. That's where I belong, seated among the wasted. My people. Those who are just hanging on for dear life until it's over.
What am I nuts? What am I thinking? I can't do that! I'd run out of money in a week! Then what? Get lucky with a lonely bar maid who doesn't mind sharing her tips? Her apartment? Her car after I have to sell my truck for drinking cash? Eh.. I'm too old for that. The bar maid would need to be a real caregiver to support me the way I tend to drink and drug. Plus, at some point I'd probably need to get back to AA before I, like my favorite Uncle, shot myself in the head. Twice.
THE AA THING may be the answer for today anyway. This is bad. I can't get out of myself. I'm in trouble, trapped in my head.
Ok, half Big Book 12 Steps and half me. It's a start.I'll get on my knees in the bed. I'm not getting on the floor. It's freezing and well? I'm not sure if I'm shaking from the cold or anxiety, either way I'm not all that desperate or convinced it's going to help at this point to get off the bed. I'll stuff my head in the pillow and pray. That's as far as I'm going. My ears are ringing pretty loud. I guess it's better than hearing voices. I wonder which is worse. Hearing voices or seeing people. I see people, lots and lots of people. Maybe that's worse. So I cover myself completely with the blanket and pray. A grown man acting like I'm a child in the warm safety of my blanket fort. It's dark and safe, I am secure now yet not ashamed. I am completely alone. Even my head can't find me. God please direct me to what you would have me be. I can see the words written in my brain. Hear it echo in my emptiness. Nothing. Ok again. God please direct me to what you would have me be.. Again. God please direct me to what you would have me be.
The Book says relax, take it easy, don't struggle. I'm trying. I'm willing. I've done this many times before but it's as if this is a first. Man, I feel far away from my God. Just relax, yeah. Focus on my Higher Power. Surrender myself. Offer myself.
STRANGE.. I think I am starting to relax. I think I am actually calming down. My mind. My mind is calming down, slowing down. Again. God please direct me to what you would have me be.
Is it ok to think good thoughts now? I want to be a good man. I want to provide emotional security to my partner. I want to be what I think a man should be. I don't want to be needy, high maintenance. I pray to take care of myself properly so I can care for others. Giving, understanding, loving. I really want to be this man. God. I am willing. I think about my daughter just to see if the pain is really gone? Nothing is happening as bad as it was before. No negative distraction. I'm going to keep praying. Please show me the way today as I go out from here.
Holy crap! I'm catching a break! This morning I let my selfishness and fear control me and already this morning I wanted to kill myself.. I pray to start over. They say in AA I can start over any time of the day. Right now? I want to. I am willing to let your will in. Let me start over. Let me grow in your understanding. Let me become a free man today and I will give this freedom away to anyone in need or not. No conditions. I'll just be willing to give freely. I'll give and not concern myself with who takes it. I just want to be kind, I pray that I can be kind today. That's all. No more pain today for me or anyone.
WHELP? I need to go to the grocery first. I have the day off so I'll make a decent dinner for us tonight. She will appreciate that. A good healthy dinner when she gets back tonight. I should pick this place up a bit also. Shave and shower. My Mother always said I look better when I shave. I'll take that memory. Thanks Ma. Oops? I forgot to fix my wife's glasses yesterday, I'll do it now. Drive all the way down to the hardware just for some glue? Sure, why not? There's still wrapping paper and other stuff everywhere around here. May as well give the kitchen the once over too. Yeah. Get the house and my head in order with a bit of help from the Higher Power. Feel good enough about myself to care for myself. Be grateful for what I have in life. That psychic change the Book talks about. I go from being afraid of it to being willing to share it.
Man, I got this alcoholic thing bad. A real adult dose. Why do I think there are still times that taking control will be different and somehow It's ok to ease God out? It never works yet I get blindsided and give it a try once again. Too much stimulus. Too much emotion? No coping skills as if I am hardwired to hate myself, familiar with failure as an acceptable option for coping with life on life's terms. Man. The self reliance can fail quick. I was damaged at a very young age. The self hate is deep..
Family stuff, history, emotional issues brought back to the surface. Hey Holiday's can be rough for some of us. I'm find myself looking for a reason to feel bad about myself. It's as if there's security there. My role, where I best fit. I'm a little lost kid and my only hope is the support of my fathers big negative noise and there is none here today so I can't feel anything. So that's what I need. If I'm a screw up and everyone hates me, yelling at me, blaming me? Then I can feel. Then I can survive. I know how to survive. That's sad as much as it is sick, or just plain sick yet this is how I feel? I find security in pain as if that's where I belong? That's who I am? I am pain?
NO.. Not today. Not anymore this morning. I don't need hate to feel, no anger, nothing extreme. I am worth something today. I have purpose today. I'm a man today. A real man. A man with courage and strength offered by his God. I will treat others as the man I am. I will pray for guidance in every situation, every thought. Or like the Book says? All my affairs. I feel different. I feel completely different now.
I have chosen the suggested way out. This time? As bad as it was with the self will I woke up with dominating my mind? Well yeah, It had a pretty good hold but it didn't last. There is power out there that is greater than my fear, greater than my selfishness and my need to survive. It is suggested that I do my best to become willing to surrender. When I do? I live. When I don't? I die. Oh maybe not physically die no, but emotionally? I'm dead. Left to wallow in the corners of my mind in hopes of new endings to validate my life of failures. It's much too late for that. I must remember that for me? I didn't just happen to find AA no, I was rescued by AA. Nothing's changed really, I'm still alcoholic. I still must follow the directions suggested for living one day at a time on the spiritual path.
There is no ticket tape parade. Life doesn't come to me or carry me because I demand special needs. It's not about me and my need to single handedly control my racing mind. There may still be rough days ahead as life well, life comes at you fast. I am simply a willing participant. I have courage and strength to meet life in the middle. See both sides. Be a part of it all.
I'M READY NOW. I am spiritually fit. It's a great feeling really. I pray to be a part of it all? I am willing to be a part of life and I am just that. No more no less, just a part of it all. What a break. My life is good when just a few hours ago I was a mess. I got up in a bad way and ran with it. I had forgot about the Higher Power, the God of my understanding. I forgot I could start the day over at any time. It's never too late for me to surrender. Bypass the broken hardwire.