Sunday, April 10, 2005

Life happens. Like it or not.

Wow. The last few months have been one eye opening experience after another.

To start things out, my wife and I of nearly five years have separated. The divorce papers are on their way, and I for one am happy they are. It isn't easy to explain, or understand, but I know that she and I are not compatible in any way. There are many reasons for this, none of which are going to be posted here. I will only say this; Our relationship was formed while I was an active alcoholic, and that is the person she seems to want me to be. I am incapable of being that person now, because he was nothing. A smoke screen to cover my fears. I was everything to all people, and nothing to myself, and I never even realized it.

Today I am someone.

I haven't touched alcohol in what will be four years come June. For the first one year, ten months or so, I was fairly happy, and reasonably successful. I had a job I loved, I attended AA meetings regularly, and I felt a close relationship with a God of my understanding.
That all sounds great, until you realize that I made the number one fundamental error in recovery. I wasn't completely honest. I tried, I really did, but something inside of me could not face the things I had done, or the fact that I was nothing more than a social, emotional chameleon. So I half-assed my way throught the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and felt pretty good.

Until something went wrong.

In May of 2003, I started having these episodes of syncope. Syncope is the technical term for falling unconcious. I would pass out, causing injury to myself, and limiting my ability to perform any meaningful tasks without the fear of the next attack. I can't drive, I can't carry or lift anything, and I feared doing anything without companionship.
When this started, all the chinks in my armor were not only exposed, but I was stabbed repeatedly by life. Doctor after doctor, after expert, after expert could not explain what was wrong with me. My medical bills got to the point where we were forced to file bankruptcy. I was forced to not only ask for help from everyone, but to truly rely on people for things most of you take for granted. This led me down a very dark path in my life. I have always suffered from bi-polar disorder, but this sent me into a depression unlike anything I had ever experienced from the day after it started, until just this February, when I was asked to move out by my soon to be ex-wife. I pray that I never have to feel that way again.

At first I didn't recognize the signs of my addiction picking at my weakness. I was convinced that going to meetings would do NOTHING for me. I just knew that God was to blame for my problems, and so I turned away from God. It was subtle at first, but my entire spiritual existence faded into nothing. It was so easy for that to happen, because I had built my spiritual existence in half-measures, and self-loathing. I was sure that as soon as someone figured out what was wrong with me, that I would be fine again. That last part at least was true.

Being a good alcoholic, I started to blame everything around me for my misery. The reality though, was that I had nothing inside of me. No desire to feel better, no self-respect, or self-esteem. I felt that only by pushing everything away from me could I be ok. I don't know my reasoning on this at the time, but I could hazard a guess today. I would guess that inside my twisted from of reality, if I kept everything at bay, I couldn't be hurt by anything or anyone.

My wife, who I truly love, was the closest person to me. I found ways to make her distance herself from me. I didn't realize it at the time of course, but in hindsight, it's easy to see my side of things. Remember however, that there are two people involved in a relationship, and while I take full responsibility for my bullshit, I do not take full responsibility for the divorce. Having said that, I can only wonder why it is that up until the last time we spoke (which, if I have anything to do with it will be the last time), my soon-to-be ex-wife, was trying to convince me of her superheroics in trying to keep us together. Well, that's not completely true, but I don't want to be a mind reader....what the hell....I think that by trying to convince me of how hard she tried, she is in turn absolving herself of any guilt she may be feeling over her side of things.
But it doesn't even matter. I couldn't be with her again at this point in my life, even if she wanted to be. So if it wasn't her asking for the divorce, it would be me.

I am running on and on here, because this mostly just free-form expression. Most of that was about where I was, now, let me share the good parts.

I am officially eating my words about God. ( Stupid serenity )
I am regularly attending meetings. ( Yay team )
I have reworked the first nine steps of AA to the very best of my ability, and have been as fearless, honest, and thorough as I can possibly be. ( Thank you to those of you who have given me the much needed kick in my ass, and shoulder to cry on)
I still love my wife, but not in any sort of romantic way. Yes, I get angry at her, and yes I feel hurt and lonely at times, but I truly wish her nothing but good-fortune, success, and hope she finds some way to be as happy as she deserves to be.
I am at peace with myself 90% of the time. I don't feel the need to impress, show-up, or put down anyone. I am happy to be discovering who I really am, and Ithink he is going to be a pretty ok kind of guy.

I want to end this with a message to anyone out there who happens upon this, and has recently started attending AA or NA or whateverA meetings. It is a simple, spiritual program that is laid out before you, opportunities for the sunshine of the spirit await you. Do not cheat yourself like I did for so long. There is no better advice I can give you than this; Be honest. Be open-minded. Be willing to do whatever is necessary to relieve yourself of your misery.
If you want it back later, it is always there waiting for you.

LJ

8 Comments:

At 10/4/05 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gald to see you're back Joe! I was starting to get concerned about you. I'm really sorry for what you have been through. I really admire your strenght through all of this. But most of all, I'm really glad to see you change your mind about God. I know this is easy to say and it may be a bit cliche, but it's when we are at our lowest point that God is the closest to us.
Welcome back Bud.

- Cheepdogg

 
At 11/4/05 7:38 AM, Blogger Contagion said...

Welcome back. If your e-mail changed I need it.

And I thought you told me last week your divorce was my fault?! You can't give me credit for it, then take it away! It lessons my asshole status that Grau has been building up!

Seriously, I'm glad your doing better and things are working out for you.

 
At 11/4/05 4:59 PM, Blogger KTreva said...

So glad you are back and in a better space than previously.

 
At 11/4/05 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anathematized1 said...

Yay, Joe! You're well on the path to becoming the real you and for that I, at least, am very, very glad.

(Hopefully, this real you has not completely given up on our "jam sessions" *impish grin*)

See you at MACKTOWWWWWWN!

 
At 11/4/05 11:29 PM, Anonymous Harvey said...

Gutsy post.

Looking forward to meeting the author someday soon :-)

 
At 12/4/05 12:19 PM, Blogger VW said...

Welcome back.

 
At 13/10/05 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a friend who also experienced similar divorce problems regarding no fault divorce which is why we made our own web site for no fault divorce and other divorce and separation issues. Great blog - keep it going.

 
At 22/10/05 7:59 AM, Blogger Steve Westphal said...

This is pretty good stuff. You can contribute articles and info at my site about domain drug rehab search.org
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