Past, present, perfect… tense

“What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.”

Burnt Norton – TS Eliot

On the path to recovery, one is supposed to forget the shame of the past. Leave behind the embarrassment of bad choices, accept their consequences, and move on.

Here I find myself splitting hairs. Because I wonder now if the choice to place my son for adoption was made while I was under the influence. It really does not matter, because what is done is done. But if-or-when the day comes that he asks, it would be nice to be able to say that it was a carefully considered, sober choice. There is no denying that I was flying in the stratosphere when I signed the official documents, but I would like to be able to say that the actual decision was made with all my faculties fully functional. I often wonder what might have been, had that decision gone the other way.

Funny how living in the present is so hard. The mind keeps jumping back to little scenes that occurred months or years ago, creating that sinking feeling of “Oh God. Did I…?” I find myself trying desperately to fill in blank spots in my memory, while the people involved in those memories mercilessly string me along, telling me I did terrible things which, while certainly a possibility, surely I did not do? Other, kinder people tell me that I really did not do those things, but paranoia sets in and I wonder if they are just placating the invalid while secretly deriding the awful person in their midst.

Then, the traitorous mind jumps to the future. It screams “You never, ever get to get high again. You will never, ever drink another tequila slammer.” And the little devil inside screams for release, because tequila slammers are good, even if you do get so drunk you miss your mouth and damn it stings when you get tequila in your eye.

So I try to conjure a more serene picture of the future. Because, you know… clean and serene. I picture an idyllic beach, white sand, blue ocean. But whaddya know… I have a drink in my hand and I am ogling women in bikinis. Hmm, OK nope… start again. So I end up being this old wrinkly guy sitting by a fireplace reading. And then… *pop*! A glass of port appears in his hand. And it occurs to me that alcohol actually is my downfall. All my pictures of serenity include alcohol.

The little voice inside thinks maybe I can get away with it. Alcohol not being my drug of choice, and all. None of my pictures of serenity include a syringe. Surely it is safe to have a little drink?

History shows that “a drink” generally leads me to a syringe or several. I am an addict and I have no control once I start.

But damn, how do I find that serenity?


6 Responses to “Past, present, perfect… tense”

  1. Can you think of it as doing something FOR yourself, taking care of yourself, rather than a rigid set of guidelines that you HAVE to do?

    Just a thought. It’s how I deal with my laziness, sometimes… when I don’t want to clean, I think “it’s not a matter of HAVING to clean… really, I don’t HAVE to do anything. It’s a matter of knowing I’ll feel better if I do clean the house. I’ll appreciate having a clean house, not tripping over crap, having clean clothes.”

    Maybe totally irrelevant. Did not mean to make it sound like my hatred of cleaning and fighting addiction is in the same league, either–it’s not. So if this is totally irrelevant, um, just ignore.

  2. Right now you don’t. You can’t. Not far enough through the Rabbit Hole, Alice.

    BTW sobriety is not stodgy. Life is a helluva lot of fun sober too. You party without it. You go to concerts, we have a blast. We do not bake (he kills cookies) or read by the fire in a smoking jacket. We don’t do macrame or pottery. It’s not all Zen Grasshopper New Age stuff. It’s just a different normal.

    There is life after. Promise. And it’s a helluva party too.


  3. Not irrelevant at all Nicole. I guess the thing is, metaphorically speaking, I am not convinced I feel better having a clean house. To take the metaphor farther, I have discovered that when I live in clutter I know where everything is, but as soon as I clean up I can never find anything I am looking for again. The clutter has a familiarity which allows me to just keep cruising. I know the day will come when I will drown in a sea of assorted junk, but until that day arrives, I care not a whit.

    Still not sure on the party thing Regina. I went to a party sober some months ago. It was a housewarming. I watched everyone around me get wasted, although the party died somewhat after the host performed a spectacular technicolor yawn all over his brand new bathroom. He also fell down and cracked his head on the tiles more times than I care to count. And while part of me was pretty happy to not be that guy, hell part of me even pitied him… part of me is envious of his ability to do that once every few months and not have it rule his life. Part of me longs for that total abandon, the total lack of accountability. Everything I do in life now, I am held accountable to myself, and of course I am my own worst critic. I no longer have the ability to let go of my own accord.

  4. That’s the problem, you have to find new friends, too. Ones who don’t embibe at all. It’s really hard to find them, but it’s not impossible. Maneuvering around the potholes…and fissures.

  5. Hate to say it but I agree with Larisa. Finding a new crowd helps a lot. Steve’s got two friends left from his stoner crowd, both have also since abandoned the smoke. While he was cleaning up and they weren’t, he was completely absent. Had to be, the temptation to go back to ‘good times’ was too great.

    They have a blast ‘reminiscing’ while at the same time look at their old crowd mostly bored. Steve’s like ‘man playing basketball with these guys is stupid.’ These were his best and closest friends. So now he hangs with one when we go to Tucson and they go 4-wheeling in the desert and have an absolute blast – straight. The other heck lived with us during his divorce. They just hang and laugh. He’s my son’s godfather. He’s the one that said, yanno, after a while numb does get old.

    No such thing as total lack of accountability, BTW. Even when you don’t feel accountable, you are.

    As for abandon, what makes you think you can’t get that sense without the stuff? Oh yeah, that’s the stuff talking. Nevermind.


  6. Perhaps I should have phrased it as a total lack of CARING about accountability.

    I think y’all are maligning my crowd. They are not a bunch of no-hoper dopers. Most times we go out to dinner and a movie and nobody even has a beer. We only ever get ripped as a group on the standard occasions – birthdays, new years, housewarming, that kind of thing. I said goodbye to the dope crowd some years ago. Using has been a mostly solitary experience for me recently, getting caught in the act being around the same level as getting caught masturbating. It had gotten to the point where it was something I mostly did to feel OK, only rarely to get high.

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