Posts Tagged ‘alcoholism’

Road to Daddyhood (and Recovery)

2016-05-01

What a difference a year and three months makes. It’s been a long time since I blogged and it’s an entirely different world I live in today.

The Boy now over two years old.
My job dangling by the thinnest of threads after 20 years with the company.
Closing on our first home.
My running coming to a slow stumbling stop.

And me back in recovery.

I haven’t had a drink in over 24 years but I’m back to attending meetings several times a week and reworking the steps over again with a sponsor.

I realized in October that I was on a cliché stereotypical dry drunk. Acting the same way I did when I was drinking minus the booze. Cut that. Acting worse than I did when I was drinking. I was always a pretty relaxed fun guy when I was drinking. It was (and is) always when I am not drinking that I become dangerously anti-social and a threat to myself and others.

I used to pride myself that my wife and son had never seen me drink. Big deal. So what. You mean they’ve never seen me relaxed, playful, and social? Nope. They’ve seen me stressed, cranky, pouty, enraged, paranoid, driven to extreme measures by fear, and wholly consumed by own self centeredness? Oh yeah. Almost every day. That’s the way I am when I don’t drink and don’t move outside of myself and attend meetings.

If you’ve never been an alcoholic and never experienced a dry drunk and want to know what it’s like go watch The Shining. If you subtract the supernatural side of things it’s the most accurate portrayal of a dry drunk that has ever been. From the opening line by Jack Nicholson you smell the rage and the insanity smoldering just underneath a phony facade. You smell that something is off with this cat before he takes the first axe swing. He says all the right words but you know he would just as soon take your head off. He’s faking it to fit in but just hiding behind the forced smile is an thermonuclear explosion gearing up. That my friend is a dry drunk. My dry drunk.

That is why I’m back at meetings, working the steps with my sponsor, and doing everything I can not to have a “Jack” moment.

My Father’s Legacy

2013-06-22

We are 230 days and counting. It’s amazing how quickly the time is passing by. A little anxiety here trying to speculate all the things we need to do. Everything from converting the guest bedroom to a nursery, buying all the needed cribs, strollers, etc. I was thinking about working on a to-do list today but got suckered into watching Battlestar Galactica today. Yes, I’m a nerd. No apologies here. My wife’s morning sickness is still going strong but she’s learning better how to eat around it. She’s now eating whenever she’s not feeling sick just so she can keep something down. Her big cravings now are beef (of course well done) and carbs. The only off key cravings she’s had so far were yesterday when she wanted Indian samosas so bad she was ready to run to the nearest Indian restaurant.

This week I’ve been mulling over the question, what kind of father will I be? I have such mixed feelings about this. Will I be Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver, or Darth Vader? I don’t know. I look at my father and grandfather and I’m a little concerned. Both were alcoholics, as am I. I don’t mean the kind of raging abusive alcoholic father they often show on TV. I mean the scared insecure need a constant buzz to interact with people and the world alcoholics. Rarely falling down drunk but perpetually having to finish off a beer before leaving the house and avoiding any social functions without alcohol. Not mean or intentionally abusive. I just mean neglectful in that fearful self absorbed way. My father to this day is as two dimensional as Ward Cleaver. Everything is fine, we don’t talk about bad things, or any real emotions. We never confront, ever. Then there is the narcism. Year before last I to,d him “Dad, we had a miscarriage.” His response? “I’m sorry. That’s terrible. Did you hear my new answering machine message? It’s really funny.”

I’m just trying to be open here and put my thoughts into words. I don’t hate either of them. I love them and all their faults. I truly believe they were both the best fathers they knew how to be. In my heart of hearts I truly believe that if they knew better or if they weren’t so scared of the world they would have they would have done the things other fathers do. They’re only human. They did (and do) the best they know how.

I gave up my resentment of my father and his failings many years ago. I had a lot of rage towards him because I felt he didn’t care enough about me to teach me to be a real man. He didn’t teach me to how to have freinds, talk to girls, be confident, play sports or (what i though all real men do) work on cars. That’s a big deal to a 19 year old boy who is in the Marines to cover his own fear and inadequacy. When I was 22 (still in the Marines in Japan) I got sober. With that came the shocking realization that my father was indeed actually only human. With it, the knowledge that in his own alcoholic, narcissistic, inadequate, and fearful way he tried his best to be a father. He may not have been the father I wanted him to be but he was the only father he could be. Today, I love him despite his failings because I recognize them for what they are. They are proof of his mortality and humanity. They make him beautiful.

Do I wish my own father had been more involved with me, more confident, less fearful of new things and people? Yes. But not as much for my sake as his. I think of the decades of life he’s missed out on because of his fear, alcoholism, and inadequacies. He’s missed out on the richness and fullness of life. I tried to share that with him. I tried to give him insight into my world and my inner peace. The year before last his drinking got worse and I convinced him to go to 90 AA meetings with me in 90 days. We did. Two days after that I went to a meeting I knew he would be attending. He was there. Drunk. Drunk at an AA meeting. He’s only human. As an alcoholic myself I understand him better than he knows. I don’t resent him for it. I pity him. I pity him because I desperately wanted to show him there’s another way of life. A wanted to give a piece of my serenity. He just wasn’t ready.

So based on my family history what kind of father will I be? A perfect father? No. A “better” father? I don’t know. Like my father and my father’s father I will only be the best father I know how to be, I only hope that one day my son or daughter looks at me and knows that despite all my own personal failings I really did try.

Planning on my long run tomorrow. After my botched long run last week I will be taking my training plan more seriously and alternating extending my distance and cutting back my distance on my long runs each week. Tomorrow will be a cut back long run. I ran a short three miles yesterday just so I can still feel that all this slower longer distance running isn’t mucking up my speed. It went well and I was within a minute of my 3 mile PR which is excellent since I run on a very hilly course meaning my next organized 5k should result in a new PR because organized runs are often on flatter courses. The problem is there is a lack of organized 5k’s here over the summer because it gets so hot. I’m still keeping my eyes open.