Dinner, Drinks and Superman

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Just remember that phrase; It may never be clear. The truth is there simply isn’t a rule book or a list of directions out there for anyone to follow when they’ve chosen and in some cases been forced to become sober. The only clarity you may have is that this time, may very well be your last chance to get clean. Like any addict, I always felt like I had the upper hand in my addiction. I absolutely knew how to play the game. Well I thought I knew how to play the game. It’s a mix of sad and funny to think back on my drinking. I was never going to be my dad, a shameless and broken drunk that scared his kids and had stinky feet. Turns out I may have been worse. At least my dad played it straight. He was exactly the drunk he showed his kids and his wife. He never hid his drunken rages and certainly never stowed himself away in a spare bedroom or one of his kids beds to “innocently drift off”. Gary showed each of his colors to us. Proud as a peacock. I on the other hand…I created a character. A make believe cast member in a make believe 1950’s TV show. We all have swords to fall on, mine will be losing time. Losing precious experiences and clouding priceless memories with my son and bruised husband. I have managed in a very small period of time to almost completely alienate the dream that I had for myself. For better or for worse…it’s my story my non-fiction. And sharing it with you is my gift. I hope in some small way I can help you see through your shadows.

I was a classy drunk. I drank white wine with fish and poultry, when I was alone I drank it straight from the bottle…classy for sure. Red wine was my best friend for several years, she and I had plenty of laughs together. It just so happened that she was weak sauce and eventually what started as two glasses in a matter of about a year became three bottles a night. But I was classy. Vodka martinis had a certain allure…”filthy dirty” was how I ordered them. “Three ice cubes and three olives please, blue cheese if you’ve got them”. Beer was reserved for football games, camp fires and garage parties and only the best German beer for me, you see I was classy. Behind closed doors what you didn’t see was that if I started with a glass of wine at a party or a restaurant, I finished with a bottle of wine at home behind closed doors. If I started with a martini, I finished with a bottle of cheap grape vodka in the basement…and hid the remnants deep in the cushions of the couch. Classy. Every night before 5pm, I would finish “taking my tylenol” which consisted of a bottle of wine or two glasses of water (code for straight vodka) which was just enough to take the pain away. If I had some extra unexpected time before the husband got home, I would literally stand in the back office window, staring at the garage waiting for it to open while drinking without looking at the bottle or the glass. The more I could swallow before he arrived, the better. I would always manage to get dinner ready and have the house all shiny and clean you see, thats what sober people do they clean and keep things tidy, drunks are slobs and slovenly. Candles were lit, Food was on the table and eaten in short order, the sooner we could eat the better to cover up the smell on my breath. Bedtime for my son was always my looking glass moment. One of many times in my day to day that my conscience caught up with me. In retrospect it was never so hard that I stopped, just hard enough to remind me how big of a piece of shit I was. You see, the drink always followed me into the bathroom for my boys shower time. While he was safely showering away, I was taking the time to “drink in private” on the other side of the shower curtain. Anything I could do to keep the glass of wine or booze out of sight from my husband. It was after the shower that the heavy, hidden guzzles would sink in which was always the perfect time to usher my sweet boy to bed. That way if I passed out it wasn’t because of the booze, it was because I was warm and cozy with my sweet guy. Here’s something shitty, I devised a plan early on just how I wouldn’t let my kid smell my drunk breath. I would tuck him in making sure he was facing the wall and then I would prop myself up in just a way so that once again…my drunk breath wasn’t going in his face. It occured to me later that the main reason I always had a fan going in his room wasn’t to keep him cool or to provide him with white noise it was because doing so would blow my drunk breath away from him. More on my drunken “patterns” later but, inevitably I would in fact fall asleep. Over time, my husband stopped waking me and let me sleep. It was better for him to let me sleep in there that way, my snoring wouldn’t wake him and he could get a good nights sleep. What I regret most about that pattern are a few things. 1. In the last 6 years, my son never got the real Dadda at bedtime. I always imagined I was that parent that read Superman stories and talked till my boy would drift off and I’m now left to wonder how many times I drifted off snoring, leaving him to fear me or wonder why I wouldn’t wake up when he tried to stir me. 2. Though it takes a team to create co-dependant behavior and my husband is responsible for himself…how far did I push him away to make it okay with him that falling asleep (passing out) with our son, was a better alternative than waking me and asking me to bed. 3. How did I manage to make dinner DRUNK every night without serving something charred or raw? Drunks will do everything in their power to keep up appearances and NOT give themselves away. Noone is the exception. More to come…

Negative Space

Saying good bye, it hits differently these days. Specifically day 746 has made saying goodbye forever to someone I love a flood of so many feelings. This isn’t a simple goodbye. Not that any goodbye in death is only ever just nuanced in pastel and soft music, or only ever an end of drive way send off…this one hurts me deep into my soul. It’s pulling tears out by my shoulders, stopping time. Along with my wish for less regret, this moment is steeped in absolutes because you see this isn’t just the loss of a magical and trusted second mother of which Debi was to me at one time in my life….I absolutely could have had more time with her to say my goodbyes and I didn’t. I absolutely could have prevented my wish for less regret with her…but here I am, schedule cleared, dripping nose and broken heart wishing I had less regret. About 6 years ago..and truly the time frame is foggy, Debi’s daughter and I had a falling out. Her daughter, was one of my deepest and closest friends. In my heart she was a sister friend. She truly knew every detail about my life and personality. We were free to be absolutely any version of ourselves around each-other that we chose to or needed to be when we were together. Our confidence in each-other knew no bounds. We also fed off of each other’s demons. I always had a smoking and drinking Buddy in her. There’s simply no way of quantifying the number of late nights, cigarettes, beers and tears we shared. We were inseparable. Until we weren’t. I’ve said it before, when you’re a drunk you snip away at the trust and fabric of nearly every relationship you’re in. Most times it’s a tiny, repairable amount of damage. Once in a while it’s a big blow-up where 2/3 of the way through you realize you’re behaving so irrationally you sober up and make repairs immediately, apologizing and explaining what and why you’ve just said and done what you’ve done and conveniently sweep it away. And then there’s the irreparable black out drunk damage. You’ve already been introduced to the parts of my life that brought me to sobriety through black out drunk moments. I wish for few things but I do wish my black out moment with my friend was my sobering moment so that it could have been earlier in my life and so that I could have been introduced to the clarity that brought me back to reality and forced me to apologize the next day. I wish I would have seen the error in my rear view mirror and instead of driving faster fearing my pride lose its luster, that I would have done a U-turn so that I could have stopped the hemorrhaging because what I didn’t know then that I know now, hurts worse than any tarnished pride. I wish this so that I wouldn’t have lost a beloved friend.

Back in 1992 when we met to me she was the coolest chick in high-school, and she smelled good! Second period biology, she was unabashedly unapologetic & rough around the edges. She loved punk music and smoking cigarettes. Behind closed doors she was soft and artistic but scarred. I wanted to be all of what she was plus those other things that we shared…the soft, artistic and scarred stuff. We became hard and fast friends, and I became an arm of her two person family (4 with the cat and the Guinea pig). Now, there were rules. Debi pulled me aside and told them to me sternly and swiftly. Red faced and definitive but with pride she looked me deeply in the eyes;“There will be no hurting my daughter, and there will be no touching. You won’t make her fear anything and you won’t make her cry” followed by a gentle ‘you can still trust me’ dropping of her shoulders at the end with her signature squeaky, bear hug. I stuck to that pact for decades. A friendship and Kinship between Debi and I of honored trust and love. And then I broke that trust. The hardest part for me is that I never got to fess up to it to Debi. I didn’t get the opportunity to ask forgiveness for breaking that pact as her incredible mind was stolen by dementia. I wish I could have been there in the twilight of Debi’s life only to see her off and to hold the hand of her daughter, my sweet sister friend during her “B’s” passing. My heart aches the deepest at the history of their bond lost in my memory, and I fear I won’t be able to share those memories of her mom and their shared moments that I witnessed with her..it shatters me, it’s like I’ve burned a first and last edition book.

Addiction steals from you. It takes what you love and cherish the most and it pushes it to the brink of its limits of strength and you’re either lucky enough to catch it before it gets lost forever, or you lost it long before you figured out that the anchor chain wasn’t attached to the ship. I miss my friend. She has let me go and maybe someday she’ll find my foot prints when she is ready to seek my path.

“May your face shine down upon thee and be gracious unto thee, and give thee peace, and give thee peace.”

Debi, you saved me when I needed saving. My love for you brings me peace. I hope our spirits cross again, I have missed you.

Friend, you saved me when I needed saving. My love for you brings me peace. I hope our paths cross again someday, I have missed you.