Good-bye alcohol. It’s just time to let you go. You’ve been a loyal friend for all these years, but our relationship is getting way too toxic. You were awesome in the beginning, steady in the middle, and unpredictable towards the end. But damn, in the last 8 months, you’ve been brutal. You’ve turned on me, or maybe I’ve turned on you. Either way, it’s time. Time to move on.
I’m not gonna say good-bye without a thank you. I appreciate all the confidence you gave me, especially during those college years. You took away tons of stress and even gave me some pretty cool dance moves. If I had a shitty day, you were the one thing I looked forward to. You were so loyal to me. Always there…ready to help me relax.
I’m gonna really miss our steak dinners together. Our Mexican restaurant fiestas. You were awesome as a margarita. I’ll never forget our days on the lake…at the reservoir. Our late nights with old friends. I’m gonna really miss you when I fire up the grill. I mean let’s be serious, water on the rocks ain’t the same. Not even close.
I have no idea how I’m ever gonna eat crawfish again. The beach may have lost its luster too. I went without you this year, and it sucked, especially since you were cheating on me with everyone else. You were definitely putting on a show at the beach, and if you can remember, you finally won me over. Yep, you joined me for the drive home. Of course, that was sorta scary. Over 200 miles of you and me on the road together. We seemed to have a lot of those kinda moments, especially towards the end.
This brings me to all those bad times. Too many to count. I mean, damn, I can barely remember all those late night documentaries we watched on Netflix. And you gave me a short fuse at my temper. Yep, you ignited that on way too many occasions. My wife and friends tell me about how intense I got, and the horrible things I said. It’s a disgusting feeling knowing I did those things and not being able to remember. Yep, these are some of those not-good moments we had together. Lots and lots of those.
Did you notice towards the end, how much we cried together. All those sad midnights looking in the mirror. I was totally ashamed of you. Embarrassed. We had become such closet companions towards the end. I became way too dependent on you. I seemed to need you for damn near everything. I take the blame for that. I totally abused our relationship.
To be honest, when it’s all said and done, I’m probably the one at fault here. I took advantage of you. I really think you just wanted to be my buddy in the beginning. My weekend friend with with the fellas. I’m the one that dragged you along into my adult days. You’re a loyal dude, so you had no problem with that.
I will say this though. When I tried to say good-bye a few months ago, you kept teasing me. You showed up every where. So please, don’t make this so damn hard. It’s just time to move on. I deserve a little separation. Let’s move on from this toxic relationship. We both need that.
Not to mention, one of the last memories of you was one of the worst. You were there with me when I pushed my father through a door, as he fell to the floor, while my son begged for me to stop. All this while my wife and mother screamed in the background. The sights and sounds of this will never be forgotten. Never.
So good-bye to you, Alcohol. Thank you for the good memories and I’ll try to forget the bad. It’s time for me to grow up. It’s time for me to focus on my family. It’s time for me to make things right. They deserve all of me. They deserve me without you tagging along. Again, thanks for the fun times. There were tons of those. I’m just sorry I abused our relationship. I’ll take the blame for that. And who knows, if I’m ever old and alone, we may meet again. Until then though, it’s time to move on. So this is it. Good-bye.
My dad doesn’t remember me.
My sister is one of his caretakers while he slips away in the confining abyss of Alzheimer’s disease. Last month she composed a very brave email to my brother and me to let us know the rate at which his disease is progressing. Her stoicism included the fact that one of the gloomiest particulars about the advancement of this god damn disease, is that he no longer knows who I am:
“One of the very saddest parts is that he doesn’t remember who Kellie is. He opened your Father’s Day card and didn’t know who it was from or who you are. Jan had to explain it to him. As close as Kellie and Dad had been in the past, its been stolen from his memory.”
For three days, I cried.
For three days, I prayed.
Then, I started to grieve for my Dad who is still physically in this unchanged realm of my own existence. Because of this insidious disease, I will be grieving him twice.
Let me now introduce you to the irony of this misfortune.
My alcoholism is also insidious. While the progression of my disease was slow, and there is a cure available as long as I am willing to work my program, it also has the power to rid me of my own remembrances. During the last four years of my active drinking, I was lured into a form of wine soaked senility.
I went away, emotionally and cognitively, for about 10 years. TEN YEARS. That is more than half of my youngest daughter’s life. It includes geographic relocations to Utah and Montana. It consists of seeing both of my girls graduate 5th grade and move on to their middle and high school years. One divorce. Two job changes. Self employment. Six different homes. Did I mention TEN YEARS?
Eighth grade is when I took my first drink. I just never stopped. The disease didn’t turn on me until around the time of my divorce, nearly eight years ago. My afternoons were drenched in red wine. Weekend mornings were always met with mimosas, and on football Sundays, the party started as soon as my feet hit the ground. In the back of my mind, I always thought MAYBE I was drinking too much, like a “heavy drinker,” not an alcoholic. Eventually, those same worrisome, yet neglected thoughts, morphed into “maybe I should cut back a little bit, because what if I ever have to stop drinking completely?”
I couldn’t let THAT happen.
Meanwhile, life around me was evolving. Family was moving, aging, living, and dying. I was in a cocoon of isolation. I avoided contact with just about everyone I love, except those that drank like me, or worse than me. Sharing the camaraderie of this habit. Seeking solace in finding others that had a problem worse than my own. Then I didn’t have to hide, like I chose to do from the rest of my world.
So here I sit, wondering, as I am instructed not to do. Avoid getting hung up in the what if’s, should of’s, and would of’s. Live now. In the moment. Take it like this… life on life’s terms.
I can’t change how my alcoholism progressed. Or my lack of acknowledging it until I hit bottom. All of that past was necessary for progress I make today:
*“I will not regret the past nor do I wish to shut the door on it.”
Yet, I can’t always push the thought away. What if I had been present for my Dad, and everyone else alike? Would he remember me now? The far away memories like holding my hand and running so fast up the driveway that my feet left the ground. Strolling the beach at dusk with his arm resting on my head as we walked; I was so short. This was a perfect armrest. The night he left our family home and came in to kiss me good night and good bye. Trying to have the “sex talk” with me when I was a teen. It was awkward, but he did his best to warn me about boys. Walking me down the aisle. Holding my babies when he was scared he would drop them.
My memories go on for infinity it seems.
His no longer do.
I am realizing that even though he may never again recognize that I am his “peanut” or his “baby,” I am blessed with beautiful memories of an amazing father. I am grateful that he is still here for me, even though he started to disappear…
…while I was gone.
*AA Promises; Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I’m an alcoholic. Okay, so that probably didn’t really get your attention since this is a blog about that very subject. Let me say that another way, and note that I will use the past tense. I LOVED alcohol. I loved the way it made me feel. I loved to hold it. I loved to buy it. I loved to smell it. I Loved to talk about it. I LOVED alcohol.
I also liked to hide it. I liked to drink it late at night, when everyone was asleep. I liked wine that was concealed in a box. I liked to have a few beers while I got ready for a party. I drank before I drank, you could say. Yeah, that was fun.
I was okay with all of that. I was okay with justifying anything that revolved around alcohol. I was okay that I ran for the bar at every party. I was okay that I had to have wine with steak, beer with burgers, and margaritas with Mexican. I was okay with all that.
With that said, I hated waking up in the morning and not remembering the last hour of the previous night. I hated looking in the mirror, that same morning, and seeing a pale face with bags under my eyes. On some mornings, those eyes might be extra puffy because I cried in that same mirror about 6 hours earlier. I hated that damn mirror.
So there you have it. I loved it. I liked it. I was okay with it. I hated it. That was my ride with alcohol. I say “was” with hopes that I can run from that ride. If it catches up with me, that ride will ruin my life. There’s no doubt about that. None.
I am blessed that I can run from this problem with people who love me. I am blessed that I can go to meetings with people that can relate to me. I am blessed to look in that mirror and see color in my skin. White in my eyes. And I’m so blessed to not have cried at that very face the night before.
I am thankful that I can write for this blog and tell you this. I am thankful that I stopped alcohol at the age of 41. I am thankful that I have a family that loves me so much. I am thankful for my memory. You see, I have awesome things that go on around me, and it’s nice to keep those awesome things from being blacked out.
I’m not sure if alcohol is a disease, a mental disorder, or what. All I know is that I, Robert Stedman, have an allergy to it. I refuse to be ashamed of that. It is what it is. I will say this. I will no longer dance with my addiction. Let me rephrase that. I HOPE AND PRAY that I will no longer dance with my addiction. I’m worth it.