I haven’t written in 2.5 months. I haven’t wanted to. Truth is I do not like the Holidays so I just hope to slide through them each year. It’s like I take a deep breath the day of Thanksgiving and don’t let it out until January 2nd. Been that way since my Dad died. And I have no other explanation than that. I slid through these Holidays. It wasn’t bad. It was my first Christmas away from my kids in 18 years. That is not easy. I suppose it never will be. But I saw family and traveled and touched the ocean and that’s good.
When I was 15 and a Freshman in High School my friend came to live with me for a few weeks. Her Dad was entering a rehab facility for addiction and her Mom was under a lot of stress and had a younger child and it was just good to have my friend with me, in a routine, away from the ugly for awhile. She did not talk much about it. I hadn’t yet had my first sip of alcohol and thought “wow why can’t he just stop drinking, what an asshole to do this to his family”. I remember it was the first real encounter I had with addiction. I did not understand it at all. Had no clue really what it meant. And 31 years later there’s not a lot more I know. Except that it still hurts people. Destroys families. Breaks relationships. Causes un-mendable fractures. And kills. It kills.
I partied in High School and in college. And by partied I mean drank on weekends. Drank too much. Got drunk at parties. Tried pot, acid, ecstasy. Didn’t like any of that. So I just stuck to alcohol. Then I got married and had kids and rarely, if ever, drank. And for 20 years I’ve partaken in the occasional girls night out obligatory Cranberry & Vodka. It makes my tummy hurt. Wine gives me a headache. A cold beer is ok once in awhile. But I just don’t care much about it. So when I began dating a recovering addict a year and a half ago it was no problem to give up drinking. He didn’t ask me to. I wanted to. I’ve had a few drinks in the past year but if you told me I could never drink again I wouldn’t give two shits. So I have ABSOLUTELY no fucking idea what it means to be an addict. What it feels like. What it does to your own body and soul and ego and life. I cant possibly understand. But sharing a life with someone who is a recovering alcoholic (with 8 and a half years clean and sober) has exposed me to more than I ever thought I’d be exposed to about addiction.
I cannot write from Dave’s experience. I cannot write from the experience of the MANY amazing recovering addicts I know now. But I can listen and I can learn and I can try to empathize. Dave and I have had MANY talks about addiction. What it did in his life. The effects it had. The damage it did. The fact that after more than 8 years without a drink he knows there is no cure and once an addict, always an addict. Truth is, Dave lived a very different life than I did before we met. Truth is, I judge a little. Truth is, I am human and I cannot help the way I feel about some things. I think the biggest thing I have learned from Dave is that it was a choice to pick up the first. It was never a choice after that. And the shame, guilt, embarrassment, hurt and regret come in big fat wrapped up packages that you cant return.
Two people I knew died in the past few days. I don’t know all of the details about one of them. He was funny. I hadn’t talked to him in 25 years but he was too young to die. The other was my friend. We hadn’t seen each other in years since she lived in Dallas but we talked a LOT over Facebook. She sent funny videos of drums and hilarious memes and cussed a lot and made fun of people and I loved her. Such a dry sense of humor. Quick witted, intelligent, bold, and easy to talk to. But I suppose those are the things she wanted the world to see. It’s not my story to tell. So I wont. She has three wonderful children who I hope know how cool she was.
As I’ve been messaging many mutual friends over the past few days there’s been two sides it seems. Those of us posting and crying and yelling at addiction and pissed and wanting everyone to know how bad it is. And then there’s those who say “shut up, not our business, don’t talk about it”.
If I know you, love you, allow you in my life, then its my fucking business. And if you are sad or struggling or sick…..PLEASE don’t shut up. Please TALK about it. To me, to anyone. Stop the fucking stigma. STOP IT. Stop being polite about it and quiet about it and shameful. Because you can talk and ask for help and live another day to climb a mountain or you can stay quiet and die.
There are 8 million and one opinions and studies and philosophies about addiction. I don’t care right now. Don’t care. Don’t want to hear how YOU think it should be treated. Because right now Im just pissed. And my smile is broken. And I foresee a few more pissed off smile-less days. And that’s ok. After that I’ll listen to the opinions. Im in a funk. I tried to climb it out. I tried to sleep it off. I tried to exercise it away. None of that is working. So Im writing. And Im going to accept the sad and sit in it a few days and then Im going to get my ass up, tell my friends who aren’t strong that Im standing for them, figure out how I can help, and spray paint cuss words on the septic tank on my land….because she was supposed to do that. And now I’ll spend some days deciding the perfect poetic nasty awful curse words I can use.
I will get up tomorrow and the day after that and open messenger to look for her meme of the day. And it wont be there. And I hate that. My heart hurts.