My co worker’s mother died the other day, a few days before Christmas. She was seven years older than me, in her early 60s. She was an addict. About a week before she died, she overdosed, and she told the people at the hospital, “Can’t you see I just want to die?” So then she did, and this time no one found her in time to stop her.
I went to the funeral parlor and there I saw that the dead woman had many of the things I want, that I think would make me happy(er). She was there (dead) in a family funeral parlor. She had a local, large, extended family. She had, I think, five children, and many grandchildren. Two of them were little girls that looked a lot like her. There they were, just after Christmas, at their family funeral parlor at the viewing of their grandmother who killed herself at sixty one.
I understand that I really know nothing of her experience. She had a rougher, less privileged upbringing than I did, I know that for sure. The reason it struck me so and the reason I’m writing about it today is because I so often covet. Maybe because of my age? No, because my adult children say they don’t want children. They are still young enough that they could change their minds but I have to accept that they may not. I have to “count my blessings” and memorize my gratitude list. I am so fortunate and so grateful. And the number one thing has to be gratitude for my sobriety.
I went to a meeting where they read part of the 12 and 12 that asked, “can we accept failure or success without despair or pride?” Lately, for me, well, no, I can’t. I’m still full of despair and fear and all kinds of every other ugly thing because of the election. I’m not giving up and I’m not dropping out but I am just so frequently so sad. How much is normal? Natural? Therapeutic? Acceptable? Not dangerous? None, I think. None.
I see the ideal and I accept the plan. Accept defeat without despair. Any minute now….
At my daughter’s for the holiday, I’m trying to be 100% and grateful and only 2% worried about leaving my dog at my daughter’s house while we go to my daughter’s fiance’s parents’ house for dinner tomorrow. My wife and my son are with me, there’s no snow, and the dog took the car ride here well. Monday we’ll drive home, Tuesday I’ll go to work, it’s all very very good.
I hope anyone reading this now has a sober Christmas. Alcohol doesn’t play a part in mine, except when I worry about the drinking others do. No regrets, no blank spots, nothing to be sorry about except the things I do in cold stone sobriety, which are so much less dreadful than the things I did drunk.
My cousin got married and I got to travel “home” for the wedding. He married a man. I cannot ever stop being grateful for sentences like that no matter what else happens. My mother got sloppy drunk at the wedding. She really ruined it for me with her drinking. She’s old, and her eyesight is terrible, so dealing with her unsteady as well was a nightmare. She passed out with icing on her face. She fought me about using a wheelchair. I threatened to leave her there if we had to call an ambulance, and I pushed her down into the wheelchair to get her back into the hotel.
I’m angry, for sure, and I’m grateful that my children have not experienced this with me. My cousin was gracious and mentioned the many other times my mother got comically drunk at family functions. I wonder if she remembers it.
The despair of the election is still all too real. I talked to my daughter today and she said she’s kind of waiting for something terrible to happen to re-embrace the despair. I’ll try to do that also, knowing I’ll often fail. Last night after our meeting we went out with friends and all of our talk was about how terrible this is. At the meeting, Carole brought up the topic of staying in the moment. I know my moments have been mostly wonderful and at every moment, I’ve had everything I need and much, much more. Right now I am warm and safe and have clean water. If I have an emergency skilled people will respond quickly and try to set things right. I have the awareness that I don’t want to give any more of my life over to despair because of this, and I have the tools to fight despair and I have lots of practice using them. And I probably also have people in my life who can benefit by my example of doing it and doing it well.