It was a rather quick day today. Work went smooth, and I got a lot of stuff done. Of course, it helped that the sun was shining and that I went and visited with my counselor, like I do every week. Following that appointment, I headed over to one of my favorite 12-step groups.
Apparently, the theme I was supposed to be getting today was “acceptance.” In my past, acceptance used to mean that people needed to accept ME. I didn’t have any friends because I wasn’t accepted for who I was, or what I stood for. They were in the wrong, because I wasn’t doing anything to make them dislike me!
You know, my wife and I had our differences. More than we probably should have had, but it was only when we were drunk. When we were sober, which had become increasingly less often throughout our marriage, we were best friends — WHEN we were sober. There was no one more that I wanted to talk to than her. She was kind, sweet, loving. She had a great smile, a gentle butt-pinch, and a warm hug. But that was only when she was sober. When she was drunk, she was cold and hard, her inner demon was no longer “inner,” and it made itself known. I won’t go on today about those horrifying times. I’ll just reiterate that, sadly, we drank more and more as our marriage grew into the toxic, vile mess she left me from.
By definition, alone and lonely are not exactly the same.
To be alone is simply to have no others around oneself, to be exclusive of anyone or anything else.
To be lonely is to be emotionally and spiritually disconnected from others; sad, and desolate.
This is an important distinction for me to make, because although I wanted (many times) to be alone, I never wanted to go back to how I felt as a child; disconnected from the world and everyone around. I needed her. I needed her to need me, because if she needed me, we’d be together, and therefore, I wouldn’t be lonely. But that’s not how it worked. I became lonely long before I became alone. We had disconnected much, much faster than we had ever connected. But in my desperation (again), I held onto a belief that i could somehow fix what wasn’t mine to fix to begin with.
It was after I gave up that I became an alcoholic. I had simply lost all hope that she would ever change by anything I could ever do, so I vowed to join her. I had determined that if I couldn’t make her stop through my love and care, and my begging and pleading, that surely, if only she could see how horrible it was to take care of another drunk, she’d quit. Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, she drank more to keep up with me.
For ten years I dealt with it. I didn’t leave her because I felt I would be breaking a promise I made, “through thick or thin, rich or poor…” I would be showing the kids that their mother was unlovable, and I didn’t want them to believe that. I wanted them to know that a husband can stick by his wife’s side no matter what. And so I did.
But - I wasn’t ready for her to die. When I had secretly said to myself, “I would be better off without you, and you were gone,” I didn’t really mean that. I didn’t want her to die! Not yet! The doctors and nurses and hospice caregivers were all wrong! She could still turn around, right?! Right?!?!
It is a hard pill to swallow.
I still feel it sometimes. The guilt. The responsibility. Like I destroyed her, as though it was my fault because I let her sneak the money out of my wallet to hide for her liquor, or I brought it home. And if I could have somehow just been a better person, someone she could believe in (and not drink myself), maybe she would have quit. If only I could have been the one that could have somehow stopped her from herself.
Alas, the demon won; it had successfully removed the children’s mother from the face of the earth.
And she let it happen! I get so angry sometimes, that I hate her all over again! The hurt! Why didn’t she just STOP?!
I know today why she didn’t. I understand that now. And i accept the fact that she has passed on. She is no longer SUFFERING the mental turmoil, the helplessness, the angst, and the self inflicting pain that is so uncontrollable; I understand that today, and I accept that.
But that leaves a huge, empty hole I don’t know how to fill - and that’s the loneliness.
And it is there, right there, that I have had my recent struggle. I am alone, and I must accept that. And all too often, aloneness and loneliness go hand in hand, so I must accept that as well. Furthermore, I must embrace that I am lonely. I must hold onto my loneliness, recognize it, accept it, process it, and let it move through my heart and soul. It will only be then that I can release what has been holding me back. It is only then that I can find the serenity, peace, and freedom that I've longed so much for all my life.
But that terrifies me, because it has been that very thing that has defined my being from such an early age. At least it is something, albeit lonely. The problem is, by hanging onto this mass of hollow pain, I cannot replace it with what is surely out there. And the only way to release it, is to accept it for what it is — and let it go.
I guess maybe it’s time for a new definition of me; a new acceptance of me and those who surround me. It is time to move forward, accepting that the past is the past, and it cannot be changed. Accepting the courage to change what I can, and accepting the wisdom to know the difference.