I had a dream about Michelle last night. We were sitting out in the yard listening to music and reading. It was a really nice day. I noticed in my peripheral vision these orbs. They were these balls of smoke or mist that were clearly moving of their own volition. I raised my hand to one and it moved away. I hit one and my hand went through it as you would expect, it dispersed and quickly coalesced again. I laughed when I noticed there were three of these things. Michelle asked me what they were and what I was doing. That was the entire dream. I guess it was a dream with Michelle in it more than a dream about Michelle. I’m not sure what the orbs or balls of mist/smoke represent and what breaking them up with my hands only to have them reform means. I want to think it is a good thing because I woke up after the dream with a nice, contented feeling.
Dennis and Brad are both doing really well. They are both getting really good grades (4.0 and 3.75 GPA’s respectively), their teachers all enjoy them in class, they are active with sports and exercise, they have active social lives with good friends, and the three of us spend a lot of time together. I love them so much. They make me so happy and proud. I have, maybe, 3 good years with Dennis before college. Add 2 years to that with Brad. That makes me sad…and kind of lonely.
I have thought about that recently, being lonely. I have never been lonely before. Before I married Collette I loved being single. After our divorce I didn’t mind it at all but now that Michelle and I are no longer together I hate being alone. My initial thought is because I don’t have Michelle…that’s why I hate it. That could be it, but it could also be as simple as I’m not drinking anymore as a way to pass the time so I’m bored…all the time. Sunday I was home all day doing laundry, working out, and reading…I kept thinking about going to the Interlude and just watching Golf and chatting with the bartender. I didn’t of course but it was in my head. I have read so many books since I quit getting drunk. I even thought about Michelle on Sunday…I miss sitting in her office reading while she was doing homework. That was so nice to be near each other like that.
“Missing Michelle” is just a place holder for missing someone to be connected with. Seeing the end of having the boys out there on the horizon is making being alone loom large. I ran into my (across the street) neighbor at the grocery store and ended up chatting with her for a while. When we finished she smiled and said, “David, you’ll find the right girl…just be patient.” It was random, off topic, and really sweet of her to say that. She’s right. I will find the right woman. Michelle wasn’t it. She and I would have been well suited for each other in 10 years when she is older, has more life experience, and maturity. She has been reduced to a symbol of what the boys and I are hoping for.
I felt sad yesterday. I was too tired and crappy feeling to exercise so I read most of the night. I ended up having a recurring dream but I can’t think of what it was this morning. The sense I have is it was a pleasant dream. Drinking on Sunday left me in/with a funk, a general sense of sadness. Instead of beating myself up over this like I was yesterday I thinking more of this is a learning experience. A reinforcement of why I quit drinking. I’ve disappointed myself and my kids. Last night I didn’t feel a desire to drink. All I could feel was sad and longing. I wanted to reach out to Michelle and talk to her about what happened on Sunday. She’s the only person I have felt comfortable being completely open and vulnerable with (exempting my therapist). I miss that connection with another person…the vulnerability, acceptance, and love of a woman.
Enough about that…sobriety…I need to put that back on the front burner and re-focus on the habits I have formed the last 6 months. No more casual (1 or 2) glasses of wine. Those are going to lead to my falling into old habits again. I can see it now. So tonight it is exercise and maybe a movie then home for bed and a book.
I’ve been putting off the second meeting w/ the match maker. I’ve rescheduled it 2 times now. I’m just feeling a general indifference to the idea of dating (all indications to the contrary with my opening paragraph to this journal entry right?). I guess what I don’t like about dating is the idea of getting from meeting a stranger to the part where we are a couple who has settled into a life together…the getting there is awful and I’m tired of having to do it.
I want to think about something my friend Jill said (2 weeks ago) when we were talking about my drinking. She said if I was happy in my relationship, that she doesn’t think I would have been drinking like I was. I didn’t agree with her when she said it (and I told her as much). I didn’t/don’t want to think Michelle and I shouldn’t be together…that we aren’t great together. Since then, I’ve thought about Michelle’s rage and anger issues…especially since she sent me that letter on the other day. I don’t know why but I’m reluctant to talk about Michelle’s rage and anger issues and how they made me feel. They happened all the time and I’ve lied to everyone about that. I tried to minimize how often it happened and how scared it made me. Here are the some of the greatest hits:
- The reaction she had the night Dad was in town over a woman being rude to her about a friend of Brad getting hurt and needing a bandage…she was upstairs screaming into her hands and a pillow. She was out of control. We actually took a break from each other for a week. I was really freaked out then…it was the first time that happened.
- The time she lost her shit over my ex-wife and the custody issue (I was considering suing for full custody and decided it would be too traumatic on my kids…she disagreed with me). I had to call her mother because I was scared and didn’t know what she was going to do or how to help calm her down.
- When she lost it (over how terrible she thought a friend of mine was to her husband) driving in an Uber from one pub to meet different friends. She was so out of control, screaming and ranting in the car, the driver tried to kick us out of the care in -10 degree weather. I had to beg him to help me get her home. She raged on for hours and into the next morning. I had to sleep in Brad’s bedroom that night.
- The time we had an argument (I forget what happened but I’m sure I was on the wrong end of the argument) and she demanded I apologize. She was literally jumping up and down (at the bottom of the stairs) screaming at the top of her lungs over and over again, “apologize, apologize, apologize!!” I had to leave (my own home) because I was scared of what she was going to do and just couldn’t handle it.
- Another episode where she was so far gone screaming and yelling that I was scared and had to call her mother. She came over, sat with her, and calmed her down while her Dad and I sat out back.
- Her hate filled rant on Facebook about her brother that ended up getting us uninvited to Boston. She was upset and raging about something he posted and ended up calling him a racist amongst other things…it was pretty awful. I asked her to take down the post and she wouldn’t for about 30 minutes. Once her family started calling and texting she did. She ended up completely broken down and tears with me holding her for an hour.
- Arizona this past summer. I sent her away instead of helping her. I didn’t know what to do and I was drunk.
I talked to her about getting help and she just took some pills and said she was fine. My mistake was internalizing all of my anxiety. These events were so stressful. Each new one helped crystalize this was life with Michelle. They weren’t “one-offs”. If I was going to be with her I was going to have to accept that Michelle’s rage, on occasion, would be uncontrollable and scary. I was lying (to myself?) about how it made me feel. She scared me sometimes. I wasn’t afraid of her physically (I’m 6’5” and she’s 5’4”)…it was just fear of how terrible and out of control she was. She would say the most horrible things to me during these “episodes”. Not addressing it compounded my anxiety, increased my need to be controlling (if I control the outcomes I limit my anxiety…right? Bullshit!!!), and increased my desire to drink (to mute the anxiety).
I’m not going to sit here and blame Michelle for this! I am a 40+ year old grown man of above average intelligence. My anxiety, my controlling behavior, and my drinking problem are all on me. They were my reaction to stress and anxiety. Michelle wasn’t the only source of anxiety. On occasion she was the largest…but not the only.
I can say this. My stress/anxiety is always going to be there. I needed to and have learned to handle it in a healthy, productive way (exercise, reading, writing, being with my boys, talking with friends). Fuck drinking…fuck controlling every outcome…fuck me for being so obtuse and stupid for so long!!!
I want to think about my sobriety this morning. I can’t remember if I have talked about it this way before. When I decided I had a drinking problem I was afraid. I was afraid what that meant for my life, my children, my relationship with Michelle, and my friendships. Drinking is a part of every social interaction I had. For the most part, it still is. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to not drink. For years now I have thought I needed to cut back, not drink as much. It was always in my head. I felt a lot of shame over the years because of my drinking.
When Michelle left me I realized I needed to change. I didn’t know if I had the strength to do it. I had to go to a logical place in my mind. I told myself, millions of people have had a problem drinking and they were able to quit. I quit smoking…I can stop abusing alcohol and be a better man for my boys.
I have tomorrow off from work. I am going to the movies, get my X-mas cards mailed out, exercise, read, and work on my journal. Normally, I would hit the bars with Michelle and/or some friends tonight, have a few cocktails, wake up tomorrow a bit worse for wear, and get on with the day. I’d definitely get the movie watched and work out but the rest of it would be iffy. A few months ago I would be nervous I wasn’t going to be able to not drink. It would feel weird/wrong to not be “out and about” tonight. I feel like I have flipped the script. I don’t feel anxious about drinking (or not drinking) at all. It’s not what I do anymore.
I did have a glass of wine at dinner in Chicago for Thanksgiving. I had a glass of wine with the Leslie’s when we got the tree up and decorated. I will have a glass of wine with Christmas dinner, I’m sure. Those don’t seem to be a problem. With all the similarities with when I quit smoking I do worry that this random glass of wine after 20 weeks of sobriety is a way of me to back slide into abusing alcohol. I don’t think it is. Maybe I should just refrain all together for now. Maybe not have any alcohol until I hit the 1 year mark of sobriety. That way I can know for certain.
I didn’t write in my journal yesterday. I was way too busy with work. In spite of my best efforts the last few months (said tongue in cheek) I am more productive at work. When you’re sober (aka not hung over), the mornings are quite pleasant. I think the exercise and being in way better physical shape is adding to that. Topping those two things off is my weight loss and extremely good nutrition. If you think about it, I really don’t have a choice but to be productive.
Yesterday was a fucking rough day with respect to Michelle. She had her big 30th Murder Mystery Birthday Party over the weekend and she posted a bunch of pics to Facebook. It was photos of so many people I care about who are no longer a part of my life. She looked so beautiful and happy. I was a mess all day at work. I got home and immediately changed and ran for 30 minutes. I had to go and pick up Dennis from swim practice right after that. I stepped outside, paused to enjoy the cool air on my skin, and thought to myself, “I feel better.” I did. The vigorous exercise calmed my brain. I still had thoughts about Michelle but the obsessive, unhealthy stuff was gone. I love that I can turn my brain off without using alcohol or marijuana. This method has absolutely no negative consequences. Weed wastes an entire day and I eat like 4000 calories. Booze I’m hung over and feel terrible about myself.
At work, I felt like my mind was out of control. I ran it all out on the treadmill and I was able to get the reins back.
Driving into work, I was listening to Story Core on NPR. It was a conversation between a woman who received a life-saving kidney and pancreas transplant and the mother of the young man who died and donated the organs. Both the recipient and donor were addicts. The young man died of a heroin overdose. The recipient said what motivates her to stay clean is her family and legacy of the donor. She said she needs to stay clean to honor his death and her life. I know I’ve said this before but it helps to put it down on paper. I will stay sober for my children. Dennis and Brad deserve a father who is the best version of himself. I deserve a life where I am the best version of myself. I will stay sober.
I can’t escape the obvious benefits of doing so. Every aspect of my life (exempting my relationship with Michelle) is better: the boys and I are closer than we have ever been, it feels like I have a handle on my control issues and anxiety, I am more productive at work, I have read 7 books since I quit, so far I filled 190 pages of a journal, I sleep better, my complexion looks better, I have lost 33lbs, clothes fit better, I can run further and faster than I ever have, I am physically stronger than I have been since my 20’s, I am sharper mentally, generally speaking I am more attractive (physically and emotionally), the list just goes on and on. So the verdict remains the same, sober David is a better David.
I was talking with a friend over drinks last night (mine were the non-alcoholic variety) about Michelle and I. She is of the same opinion of all of my friends who spent a lot of time with Michelle and I. She thinks we should not get back together. She said Michelle hasn’t dealt with any of her issues. She feels like Michelle is in the “look everyone at how great I am doing” space. I know Michelle has run up credit card debt because she has started getting offers to help her refinance high credit card balances sent to my house. She said Michelle will eventually have her anger and rage subside and I will be getting a phone call from her wanting to talk about us getting back together. I doubt that. She doesn’t know just how deep Michelle’s anger issues run. Michelle was promised $500 from a past employer over 3 years ago (he never paid) and when it comes up in conversation she still has the same level of anger/resentment she did back then. If she can’t let go of a promised $500 that never materialized, what are the chances of her letting go of her anger with me?
I feel great today. So much so, Brad told me it was annoying what a good mood I was in. So I played up the annoying because…you know…that’s what Dads do and also…screw him for finding my joy annoying…LOL!!
I feel healthy, ambitious, content (with life), physically strong/able, just all around great. I like this, this consistency in my mood. I was talking with an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a while on Friday. She was asking me about my sobriety and what I have noticed the most since I quit drinking. I told her it was the clear head every day. She laughed and said, “You mean you’re not hung-over?” It’s true. I haven’t had a hang-over since I quit drinking (obviously). The only time I have had a headache waking up is when I had a particularly sweaty work out the night before and didn’t drink enough water.
I keep coming back to sobriety. Well that’s not entirely true. I keep coming back to Michelle, our relationship, and then sobriety. I should have addressed my drinking years ago. When I say years ago, I mean 10+ years ago. Better late than never, I guess. I think being open and honest with the boys about my drinking is a net positive thing. They get to see and understand the dangers of drinking. Until now a drinking problem was the homeless guy on the street or the man in jail for driving drunk. Now, it’s their father (with: a successful career, a big house, a nice vehicle, who exercises 4 days a week, etc) who has the drinking problem. My life didn’t fall apart (aside from losing Michelle) but I was still unhealthy. Now that I quit drinking, they get to see the incremental improvements not drinking has added to our lives and take those into adulthood. This has improved their chances of breaking the cycle I was stuck in. They won’t have to wait until they are 42 years old to start (hopefully).
I have been writing in my journal less lately, just once a day. It hasn’t been intentional. I just have less on my mind to get out on paper. I talked with my therapist about this. She thinks it’s good sign. It means the inner turmoil, depression, and conflict are subsiding. I feel it. I feel like I’m on “this” side of my depression. I still feel sad sometimes. I miss Michelle and how we were together. I miss thinking about our future together. Putting that down on paper makes me sad, the past tense of the verb. It’s the way things are. Even now it feels so wrong and surreal. It’s like I’m in Sliding Doors. I wish there was a version of me that still had Michelle in my life to love. I miss hearing her voice. I miss telling her about my day. I miss reading while she does her homework. She used to do this stupid thing Saturday mornings while she was getting ready for work. She would turn on the ceiling fan light (which is super bright) and right before she did it would yell out, “PREPARE, PREPARE!!!” so I could cover my eyes with a pillow. I miss it…the day-to-day minutia of our relationship. I like the idea of there being a Sliding Doors (alternate) universe where Michelle and I figured things out and were back together living life towards our future. I wish there was an “our future”. There isn’t. She wants something else. I don’t even know what she wants because we don’t talk anymore. The last time we communicated was almost 2 weeks ago and she was screaming and hysterical about not being able to see the boys.
So I’m alone. I used to like being alone. Unfortunately, these days alone means being without Michelle. I don’t like that at all. Maybe, someday, I will.
I will never drink.
this sobriety is what
remains of our love
death is renewal.
her love dying gave birth to
I really like the way I feel in the mornings. I feel rested, clear headed, and lite. I like the calm in my brain. I don’t feel embarrassed I’m hung over on a weekday, again. I don’t have the scared, little voice in my head whispering, “You have a problem man.” That voice scared me. Every, time I woke up tired, foggy, thirsty, and pretending I was none of those things I would hear it in my head. “Dude, it’s Tuesday and you’re hung over again? You can’t keep doing this.” I wish I had quit drinking sooner. Brad and I have so much fun driving to middle school in the mornings. I feel like I short changed Dennis the last 2 years.
I know my sobriety required a crisis. I needed to be faced with a horrible consequence before I would make a change. Michelle was the consequence. I lost Michelle because I drank. She doesn’t see it but I do. The-glass-is-half- full way to look at losing Michelle is to think about all the things I could have lost had I kept drinking: my career, my home, my money, solid/healthy friendships, and a loving relationship with my children. Last week my therapist commented on the guilt I feel about being a drunk. She asked me if I saw anything good about not drinking. I do. I am modeling the right behavior around alcohol for my boys. There are alcoholics on both sides of my family (maternal grandmother, and paternal grandfather). All 3 of us are pre-disposed to being drunks. Being honest and open with the boys about my issues with alcohol and modelling the right behavior is going to help them do the same. It is just like smoking. It is kind of a I-will-not-have-lost-the-love-of-my-life-in-vain sort of thing. I will honor the love and relationship Michelle and I had (and lost) by being a better man and father to my boys. At this point, it is all I have left of her.
I despise how I
was. I wish I would have told
myself not to drink
Last night the boys and I met some friends for dinnerOn the drive home, Brad said, “Dad, I am so glad you don’t drink anymore…like really glad.” It was emphatic the way he said it. Dennis chimed in echoing the same feelings. I asked them why they were bringing it up.
Dennis said, “You were kind of a douche when you drank too much…sorry.” I could hear the trepidation in his voice as he said it. I asked him why he was sorry. “I don’t know, I feel bad saying that.” I told him he didn’t need to feel bad. Brad talked about driving home one night (Michelle was driving) where I kept throwing my flip-flop at Dennis in a joking way that just got annoying. I guess that’s a weak example…but they are 12 and 15…it’s what comes to mind for them. There are plenty of moments of me being short, impatient, etc.
I told them how sorry I am I behaved like that. They both said it was totally fine, especially now. They know we are all in a better place now that I don’t drink any more. I think we can see it because of its absence. Kind of a forest for the trees type scenario…we are out of the forest, now we can all look back and reflect on a drinking Dad and see what an asshole he could be. I’m not happy I was like that. Saying I feel guilty and embarrassed doesn’t do justice to how horrible I feel.
I should focus on the positive…I am so happy I don’t drink. I am not that drunken shithead. I hope everyone still in my life realizes that.