Good-Bye Robot

Sunday has become my day to write. I start at the beginning of my week trying to piece together a specific memory pool of my life and try to make enough sense of it to put it on paper. Most of the time, I have an idea of what it is I want to work on but inevitably the prose is too deep or too much for me to enunciate in a way that won’t be triggering to my audience. Last night I made the clear decision that I was going to finally write about something that made me laugh at myself. Levity in what is a very deep and sometimes dark collection of essays. The plan was to talk about a trip abroad that i took when I was a college student, but every time I came up with the opening paragraph I would instantly flash to a word in my head and be too distracted to start. Try as I may I can’t bring myself to write about that trip, but I promise its catalogued for a later chapter. So no levity today…today will be about; Time

Early on in my decision to stop drinking I couldn’t help but recognize how bored I was. I was gifted with time to reflect on my path ahead but more important bemuse the destruction I had left behind. Not now but soon I will tell all of my truth, the whole reason for me to quit drinking..but I’m not ready. In the mean time I will ask each of you to once again trust me with your precious time.

Back in July some time round about the 17th or so nearly a week after I started on this journey, I had a flash of me…once again losing my temper with my sweet boy. It wasn’t the first time in that week that I had a fleeting moment of clarity that revolved around my kid. After all, more than anyone in my life he was the one person that was left wondering what was wrong with me. Admittedly it had become routine for him to respond to a sharp tongue lashing from me with “maybe it’s time for a vodka” or “why are you so mad at me, are you out of wine?” This from an 8, 9 or 10 year old…to the person that was responsible for his health and well being, his life. I have had a lot of shame in the last decade that has revolved around plenty of mis-givings and bad decisons but in retrospect with nothing but clarity to torture me, my biggest regret is the reality that I hurt the feelings and neglected to place the most priceless gift ahead of all else. Keeping my sweet son in the shadow of liquor was a conscious decision fueled by greed and desire and the guilt of it stares me up and down and holds me responsible and I own it. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention what I put his other father through. Picking up the pieces of our brokem life on a daily basis also became the norm for him. Sheltering and sheilding our son behind closed doors from the bad guy. As a couple we both played a part in the cat and mouse game of a deteriorating marriage, I know not to take all of the responsibility but I won’t ignore the fact that he was forced to pay most of his attention on our boy and his own mental health. Our marriage naturally became second fiddle. Where else would he have focused his energy? It certainly wasn’t to “talk about last night” when he knew well enough that the converation would be wasted…because you see I had no memory of the night before. His battles were valient, I honor his efforts…I cannot expect him to forgive me so swiftly and I often sit back and whisper my apology without his knowing it because my shame is still raw but I’ll get there.

So time…as a young adult my Mom told me that the older you get the faster time moves but I placed no credence to the statement and find myself brandishing my fists at science angry that I can’t go backwards but mostly wishing for more of it. Time for me these last number of years has been fleeting. When I say I have very little memory of my day to day these last 8 or 10 years I mean it. I would rush through my day, 7 days a week just to get to 5 o’clock. If you recall from my very first blog entry, I was a “classy drunk” so unless it was a weekend with friends or family I never drank before the 5 o’clock whistle. I now know that I was what is referred to as a high functioning alcoholic. In a day I would 1. open my eyes 2. stave off nausea 3. pee 4. shower 5. dress 6. drink coffee 7. wake and dress my kid 8. Walk dogs 9. Catch my hungover reflection in a car window 10. Regret my hangover 11. forget about my feelings 12. see kid was where he needed to be 13. work 14. leave work 15. stop at store for dinner food 16. retrieve kid 17. start dinner 18…pour my first drink. Literally in that order every, single day. I was living in the Groundhog day movie. The part that I keep referring to in my minds eye that dawned on me about 7 days into my sobriety is this. Every waking moment of my day to day, be it a weekend day, a vacation day, in the hopital with another ailment, at a hospital with someone that had an ailment, in the car….every, single solitary moment of my life revolved around when I was going to pour my first drink. Anything in my path that got in the way of my first drink would be annihilated either with threat of anger, raw anger or absolute disregard and that included my son and his other dad. In the moment that I realized my pattern my world shifted a little bit more. It was that moment that I realized I was healing and not just myself and it has been the second most important step in my recovery. The gift of finally receiving that insight remains integral to my journey because you see…It helped lead me to the dissolution of guilt and pain. It afforded me the clarity to check my next move, and respond. It has gifted me the joy of seeing my sons concern when he would make a mistake or interrupt me wash away because my response would be one of patience and care. I am so grateful for time. I now have what I need to look my undoing and destruction in the eye, to say I know I wasn’t perfect but I’m working on it. To be graceful and proud. Time. I feel like I have lost so many moments to my disease, but time is now on my side.

The Fronchroom

A few years back I learned that one summer evening, many many years ago.. while my sisters were visiting our Grandma that my sister Lisa accidentally grabbed my grandmas ‘glass of water’ and quickly learned that it wasn’t water at all but vodka. Knowing what straight vodka tastes like I understand her reaction of quickly spitting it out in the sink to then be berated by Grandma Lucy for making the mistake of snatching and drinking from someone else’s glass. After hearing that story I immediately peppered my mom with questions, not knowing that Grandma liked to drink anything other than Sanka instant coffee early in the morning while listening to Wally Phillips on WGN. You see, I knew very little about anything that my Grandma did as my relationship with her was virtually non-existent. Born to first generation immigrants, Lucille Tomaso Hall was anything but soft to me. I felt her distrust and dislike for me at a very early age. She wasn’t overtly mean or abusive but the opposite; I felt ignored at every turn or noticed her favoring conversation with my sisters over me. For years I wondered whether or not there was a part of the story that I was missing. It wasn’t until round about 1992 long after she had passed that a close family friend told me she didn’t like me because she was sure that I would turn out to be like my dad ie; an abusive drunk that wasn’t worth the time. As an adolescent I carried that around for a good period of time, wondering why she wouldn’t have given me a chance to prove otherwise. Fast forward to present day, and I find myself reflecting once again on my “hereditary obligation” to alcoholism and wedging pieces together was no longer necessary, they slowly started to fit together perfectly. I wished for a long time that there would be a generational gap and that I would be spared. After all, I did everything I could in my power to fend off the ‘demons’ of alcoholism starting very early on. I attended Alateen every Wednesday night for a decade, went on retreats for children of alcoholics and even developed a fear of drinking convincing myself that it would at a minimum make me sick to my stomach. It wasn’t long however, that I became the good time Charlie that had a hollow leg and the cruel misfortune of never waking up with a hangover. Now after digging deeper I learned that I had alcoholism coming from both sides of my family. You can do the math, my paternal grandfather, my Dad and now seemingly my Maternal Grandmother as well. It was this information that sparked the questions in my mind: When does the time bomb start ticking and when if ever, will it go off.

It’s funny, for most of my life I felt a lifetime away from my Dad and Grandma and now I have more in common with both of them than I could have ever imagined. It’s both of them that I find myself turning to in my minds eye, asking for advice. Privately the same goes for other members of my close family that are recovering alcoholics. My inner dialogue always includes them. I whisper to them all…reminding them subconsciously to not be disappointed in me, to give me another chance when a fleeting moment of clarity and sobriety passed without sticking and asking each of them for help and subsequently imagining their supportive responses of encouragement telling me that the time will come and that it’s okay…I’m not a failure.

For too long I let my demons push away my white flag? Take the wind out of my sail when I told myself to try again. My heart break and deception shut down my efforts by dragging me down that long and dark wormhole. It was the true reality I was faced with that I could and will lose everything that means the most to me and possibly prematurely. I looked God or source, spirit….the sky, dead in the eyes and I gave up and it was then that the flag raised. The breath and words of my closest ancestors stoke the fires of my recovery but this time I’m at the helm.

Whatever you need to recover from, do your damnedest to not let it win and take away your grace. You’ll get to the finish line even if you have to start over again every day. I now relate with my Grandma Lucy, my Dad, brother and cousin. I now know that some of the demons in their heads were the same ones that I had in mine. I can no longer wonder if looking too deep in my eyes would have given way to my grandmas truth, that she had something in common with my Dad and that her hatred for him pushed her away from me. I’m here to tell you that Forgiveness is a powerful spirit.

Grandma, I did turn out like my Dad. I also turned out like you. That part of you that maybe you were ashamed of…the good news is I continue to give myself another chance to get it right and I will walk with no shame. Even through the daily reminders and hourly struggles I won’t let go of the wheel. I will always beg to get it right.

Buona notte, Luciana