It's the holiday season. I sobered up on September 21, 2013, so I've already spent holidays sober for three years, each one becoming gradually better each year. Yet, I find it increasingly more difficult to deal with, truthfully.
When I hit my first Thanksgiving and Christmas in '13, I was still so sick and in a fog that nothing really registered for me. I was only roughly two and three months in, so I had barely hit my three months just prior to Christmas -- not surprising that I was still out of it. Truthfully, I was still pretty ungrateful for being alive, I had just figured at this point that I couldn't die, so I was attempting to "live."
Spring rolled by, and eventually summer was in full swing, and I still felt crappy. It wouldn't be until summer was nearly over before the fog began to lift. To put it into perspective, nearly the end of August. This would put me just past the anniversary of my wife's last breath mid July, 2009. I still had no idea how to cope with people, nor how to cope with being alone. Left Side and Right Side continued to argue that there was only one way to peace, and many times, they really sounded like they knew what they were talking about.
Holiday '14s rolled around. By this time, I had tried to hide my self-inflicted suffering by diving back into videos. I did try, truly I did -- but... something was still just... not "right." I don't know how else to say it, honestly.
The season came, the season left, and eventually, I was faced with the anniversary of my late wife's death again. And I was still entirely emotionless.
"You're broken." Left Side and Right Side would argue. "Broken beyond repair."
I pushed them away, but they didn't leave.
"Who doesn't cry for their spouse?!" they would ask harshly, "YOU! You're broken."
I hated that I could see others tear up when they listened to or watched heartbreaking stories, that they spoke of crying like it was as simple and as useful as laughing. That was an impossibility for me. When my heart shattered many years ago there was nothing left to hold my soul, so I became empty. A true-life, walking dead.
But in time, Left Side and Right Side began to realize they needed a new tactic to get me to accomplish the peace they demanded; begging for the drink was of no use, because I had vowed that if I was going to try and live, I would do it without the drink. I'm a determined son-of-a-bitch. I may not get my way, but I'll try until I prove I did it, I can't do it, or that it isn't worth the effort, but I rarely just give in... unless I just don't care.
As the summer passed, I'd made some friends and found a purpose to live. So I worked it. I found a small amount of solace that year, just enough to help me trudge on. I began to work on my self-image some and creating a challenge that only I participated in. It was my way of reaching out, and two people started to help me with as much as they could. It was good.
But, something was still amiss.
Then holiday season '15 crept up on me. By now, I had a friend that had "forced" me to a dance, something I had never done previously in my entire life. It was... uncomfortable, but I smiled. Numerous times, too.
Thanksgiving came and went. Christmas floated in and I found myself "caroling" with these new friends. It was fun. But I was still alone, and I pushed my heart down as Left Side and Right Side reminded me that I was broken and that I had no right to pull garbage out of the trash, so I was left in there... and I bled.
But I wasn't dead yet.
The holidays came and went and this very website was officially launched that New Year, 2016. It helped to keep busy, perhaps too busy, but it numbed the raw feelings my thawing, busted up heart was going through.
Spring jumped, summer rushed in, and soon, the leaves were dying again. I'd made it through yet another anniversary of my late wife's death by working hard to not acknowledge it. By now, Left Side and Right Side were too worn out to say much -- they were tired of being alive, but I prodded on. If I was going to be forced to be here, I was going to push Left Side and Right Side to come along with me as hard as I could, as fast as I could.
And so Thanksgiving '16 has passed, and Christmas '16 is on its way, by mere days. I took a friend to a memorial service just a few weeks ago. I sat next to a gentleman that I call a friend, and he wept.
And I sat by, stone cold, asking the Twins, "What is this? Where is this? How is this?" But by now, they knew if they spoke up I'd only beat them down with absolute refusal to listen to the answers they were going to give me. Fuck them. I wanted nothing to do with them. So I sat, un-comforting to my friend, seemingly uncaring and cold.
I sat down tonight to check my website, and a terrifying realization occurred to me. Christmas is coming. A damn good friend of mine mentioned something about a gift for me. Even better, a homemade gift, which means it is from the heart.
From the heart.
I know she's making these things for other people, too, I get that, but then I realized that, for just over seven years, hadn't given anyone anything for any celebration or holiday, and my broken heart... shook.
It shook. My nose began to tingle and thoughts of my late wife filled my eyes. They were mixed memories. Moments of being not alone, mixed with being unable to please her. Seconds of tender touches jumbled with drunken song and being left to do all the wrapping on my own, again. Flashbacks of thoughtful gifts intended to spur the "awww" moment only to be quashed by her distaste in the heartfelt, thoughtful offer. This pulled up old, old memories from when I was a child, and on only a couple of occasions had my heart been beaten like this. I had vowed it wouldn't happen again, yet it had...
I gave up that day, many years ago.
I swore I would never try again, and I didn't. That was the last time I'd given anyone a gift of any kind for a celebration or any kind of seasonal giving. She and I would drink more and more, right up to her death four or five years later.
So I sit here tonight, an old feeling rumbling my torn up heart, Left Side and Right Side telling me I'm worthless and broken, terrified that I will, once again, screw up this season of giving like I had in the past... yet I find the tiniest sliver of warmth in my heart -- mixed with fear, of course: A desire to find the courage to present something from my heart to another person.
But I shutter.
And yet, I know one thing is for sure: I can move past this mountain. I can make it through this. If there is one thing I have learned in my recovery it is that for every low there is a high; for every set back, there is step forward - even if I must side-step first; and that for every bad memory... there is either a good one, or an opportunity to create one. All I have to do is hang on for one more day. Make it through one more moment. Grasp onto the golden slivers of Hope peaking over the horizon.
The light is coming. I just have to move towards it.