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Life After Death

Life After Death
July 13
07:41 2019

I remember this one time when I was drunk, and pissed off over something, and I picked up a baseball bat and beat my kids. Okay NO. That never happened. I’m pretty sure my nine readers read that line twice in shock. In all my years of drinking, I never put a hand on my kids, or on my ex-wife. I guess if there is something to give thanks for, it is that alcohol didn’t turn me into an abusive husband and father. At least physically abusive. But maybe it was even worse than that.

I remember, vaguely, a few times at Christmas when I worked hard to get money together to spend on things at home – gifts, food, sweets and all the usual stuff. And then I spent it all on liquor. Yeah, that did happen. I think the life of an alcoholic will, to some extent, always be about regrets. On my long, long list of things I regret, those Christmas times I will never forget.

And that is what it comes down to. In the end. I may never have beaten my kids, even when I am sure they deserved it, but if you are an alcoholic in a family setting, the abuse is real. It may not be intentional. It may not be malicious. You may not even realize that it’s happening. But the abuse is very real. This is hard to write. And maybe if you are in the same boat I was, it is hard to read. I am telling you. Take it from me. If there was a prize for most loving father, I would have won. I was like this giant, cuddly teddy bear to my kids. I thought I was always there for them. I thought it was enough that they knew I loved them and would kill or die for them. But if you are an alcoholic, and you are drinking in your home, or come home drunk, you are hurting your kids, terribly.

There was a time when I thought I was juggling the kids and drinking well. I needed to spend time with them, right. But I needed to drink too. So let’s have a movie night at home – me, the kids, popcorn and rum. I thought it worked splendidly. What on earth was I thinking? The movie played on, but after an hour the only thing that I was focused on was finishing the drink and mixing another one. World-class dad. I also went through my BBQ phase, where every Saturday I’d bbq with the kids around me. Now that was a keeper. Quality family time. Me, the kids, BBQ and a litre of Caribbean rum. At one point I was inducted into the Burnt Chicken Hall of Fame, because I was great at starting a BBQ, but after a few drinks I neglected those poor chickens. And I am ashamed. Those chickens deserved better. So did my kids. But at the time I thought it was a wonderful arrangement.

I know a lot of you fathers, and even mothers out there know what I’m saying. You may not want to say it, or even think it out loud, but you recognize you in me. Just like I recognize me in you when I see you out socializing.

I can’t take back the past. I am hoping that when my kids see me now, they will see a different person. It won’t happen overnight. But at some point, maybe when they think of me, it won’t be me with a drink in hand, or me sleeping off a drunk, or me puking up my guts in the bathroom, or fighting with their mom (I swear she beat me every time. I never lay a hand on her). I want, and this may be just a foolish dream – but I want them to think of me as somebody who had the courage to stop drinking, and somebody who turned his life around and became a better person and a good father. A REAL father. I want to replace all the bad with good, even if it takes me the rest of my life – whatever is left of it.

I want to leave you with something. Forty-five days ago I was looking at the ruin behind, and contemplating the ruin ahead. I didn’t have a clue where I’d be in a month, or six months, or a year – still drinking, screwing up everything, juggling between drinking and kids, sad all the time, getting a little love now and then but nothing to talk about, just living day by day, bottle by bottle. That’s no kinda life. I was a dead man walking. If you think I’m being dramatic you’d need to spend an hour in my head. It would scare the crap out of you.

I am 44 days sober today, Tuesday as I write this. I am rebuilding my relationship with my kids, and with my family. Can you imagine the relief of family members who are slowly realizing – slowly, slowly and still warily – that they don’t have to wonder if I’ll be drunk when I get back home, or worse, that they’ll get a call saying that I won’t be coming home – ever? My relationship with God is better than it has ever been. I am fixing, little by little, some of the mess I left in my wake. I have a rock solid group of friends supporting me. I have love – like real love. I am regaining my confidence, and even my self-respect. I am clear-headed. I am eating healthy, and even exercising a little. You know what it would take to destroy all that? ONE DRINK. That’s it. Think about that.

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