Tag Archives: loss

Retro Recovery: Why I Won’t Relapse

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 12/02/2016 at 5:04 p.m. – Day 55 of Treatment
my_recovery

In the 6 weeks I’ve been here at the Boston VA for Alcoholism Treatment in all the groups, therapy sessions, meetings, no one has ever asked us to list the ways that alcohol has negatively impacted our lives, or will impact our lives should we pick up again.

I think this is a missed opportunity.  I think if we as recovering alcoholics/addicts had an exercise where we attempted to list many of the ways in which our disease has reared its ugly head, or how it will affect us if we do pick up again, that it might have some impact.

It might also be a good list to keep handle should I start thinking that I am ok to pick up again.  I am pretty sure it would put me right back on the right path.

So here goes!  This isn’t going to be pretty:

20 Reasons Why I Won’t Ever Drink Alcohol Again:
  1. I become a loud, overbearing, and obnoxious asshole.
  2. I have picked up the phone lots of times and bought other drugs.
  3. I ruined almost every single friendship I’ve ever had since college.
  4. Drunk dialing.
  5. Drunk driving.
  6. Defects of the mind and character.  Suicide attempts.
  7. Financial ruin.  I am homeless and poor.
  8. I will end up back in jail.
  9. Kids out of my life. (mainly an affliction of the exes poison.  Yes, SHE owns that, I NEVER drank in front of the kids).
  10. I got kicked out of the military for an OUI in Germany, then subsequently tested positive for hash (Honorable).
  11. I got 2 USA OUI’s and have 2 years of jail time/probation hanging over my head.
  12. I have had over 60 jobs out of 48 years of eligible employment.  Yeah, that one staggers me when I added them up.
  13. I destroyed, or have been involved in destroying 4 out of 5 of my significant adult relationships (of more than 3 years).
  14. Loss of major income.  I have wasted umpteen thousands of dollars on alcohol and drugs.
  15. I cannot have just one.  I have to close every place I go.
  16. Isolation, loneliness, depression, despair.
  17. High blood pressure, weight gain, physical exhaustion.
  18. Cost of car insurance, and installation of a breathalyzer in my car (which I currently don’t own).
  19. Instability, chaos, loss, depression.
  20. I will end up dead.

So there you have it folks:  it ain’t pretty, but that’s my truth.  And having just finished the list and reading over it, it staggers me and I have to take a moment to regroup.  Not all my life has been that doom and gloom, lol.  But for the most part it has not been pretty.  I think tomorrow or Sunday I will post 20 Great Things I’ve Done In My Life, just so you don’t think I am a complete washout.  I know you don’t think that, just sayin’.

Alcohol is a disease.  Alcohol will swallow you whole, chew you up, and vomit you onto the cold hard pavement.  It will do this over, and over, and over again.  Alcohol got me so I ended up a lonely, isolate–but on the mend!!– poet blogging at a VA Treatment Facility on a Friday afternoon.

But a sober, lonely poet (wink).

Retro Recovery: I Want My Kids

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 03/12/2017 at 8:00 am – Day 145 of Treatment
my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

So hello my dear readers.  I am still resting from writing and blogging.  I am not, however, resting from the purpose many of you are familiar with:  trying to reunite with the children I walked away from 11 years ago.

I am not one for very long blog posts; however, if you are to appreciate this particular post, some background information would be helpful. 

If not, just read my letter to my sons in the scope of a father having had to let them go to be parented only by their mother these last 11 years and that they truly hate my guts.

In the table below, the first link to a post I wrote explaining why I gave up my children in the first place. The second link is the actual letter I wrote to my ex-wife, requesting assistance in reaching my sons and making amends. The third link is her scathing response.

My ChildrenLetter To My ExMy Ex Wrote Back

And now, here is the letter I have drafted to my two sons.  I would love any feedback you have regarding this letter.  It was extremely difficult to write.  I am hoping it is as honest and as loving as it feels to me.  Thanks, and bless all of you.  I hope to be back sometime in April after I get settled into my new place.

THANKS TO ALL WHO HELPED ME AMEND THIS LETTER.  HERE IS THE NEW VERSION I WROTE WITH YOUR HELP, AND ALSO SOME MORE SOUL SEARCHING:

Dear Nick and Matt,

I decided to write this letter to both of you, as the message is the same. I am in a place in my life where I would like to–and am healthy enough–to see you. That has not always been the case. However, I feel it would be doing an injustice to explain everything on a sheet of paper. You deserve more than that.

You may be angry. You may be feeling like I abandoned you. You may be a little sad about the whole thing. You may not actually give a shit. Whatever you are feeling, I certainly do understand it. They are all valid emotions. I consider not keeping you in my life my greatest blunder. It has caused me great sadness. I have missed you terribly.

I am very sorry for any pain I have caused you. I thought I was making the best decision for you and your welfare. I regret making that decision as it has probably caused you tremendous pain. I missed a lot of important activities and events in your lives. I wish we could do it over, but that time has passed. Perhaps we can create new memories together.

I realize that the opportunity to be a dad may have passed. However, I am always willing to be that to you if that is what you wish. I would like to have you consider perhaps having me in your life in a different role if that is not a consideration. If there is a possibility, I would like a chance to show you that I can be someone you can trust and rely upon.

I have battled quite a few demons since we parted. I have PTSD, Bipolar 1 Disorder, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, and am now just 10 months sober from drugs and alcohol. I was in no position to be an effective parent to you. These issues have affected me negatively throughout my life. They also had something to do with me being out of contact with you. But now I am sober, now I am at a healthy place, this is why I am contacting you today.

If you decide you don’t want to see me, my hope is that at least you will be able to try and get past any negative feelings I may have caused you so that you can be free to live in peace. Of course I do hope that you will be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me, and to consider at least talking with me. I might just surprise you! I can’t imagine the entire rest of my life without you in it.

We were Dad and sons once. I know you remember how much fun we used to have. How much time we spent in the woods exploring, hiking. Our trips to the White Mountains. Trying to defeat that damn game Kid Chameleon. Fishing, playing sports, the crazy fireworks, Christmas together, and so much more over your younger years. I’d like to create new memories with you. I have never stopped loving you. I always have, always will. I’m not here to convince you of that. I already know it to be true. I hope that one day I can prove it to you.

Here is my phone number. I hope to hear from you soon. If not, take good care of yourselves, and your mother. My phone number is 222-222-2222. My email is xxxxx@gmail.com. Remember, whatever you decide, I respect and accept.

Love,

Your Father

UPDATE: My sons never responded to the letter. I doubt that they even received it, considering how quite vindictive the ex was towards me. I did finally call my two sons in the Fall of 2018. In those phone calls, I tried my best to explain to them the whys of my ways.

Nick seemed receptive to possible further contact. Matt, my younger son, outright told me he would never have an interest in pursuing a relationship with me. He told me never to contact him again. To this day, neither has contacted me.

Before Recovery: 52 Years In 7 Chapters

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Before Recovery:  Part 5 – Constant Chaos

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma LegacyPart 2: Wandering LostPart 3: Worlds CollidingPart 4: Heavy Burdens
Constant Chaos
Matthew – Nick – 1997

…..

I went outside my marriage many times. It was easier to have those kinds of experiences rather than to devote anything consequential to my marriage and child. I was devoid of emotion. I was a highly functioning man with hell living in his soul. I began to collect Article 15 Discipline Reports for stupid things: For showing up late for formation. For talking back to an NCO, uniforms not up to specifications…I stayed away from my young family for entire weekends isolating and drinking and suffering. Toward the end I was a drunken mess.

As my orders came through for a deployment back to the USA, I rotated my then again pregnant wife back to the States and promptly got myself charged with an OUI in Germany. In August of 1994, after such a brilliant start, my military career was over. They started Separation Proceedings on me for “habitual misconduct;” this, just after I received my Good Conduct Medal!

I was discharged in August of 1994 with a General under Honorable Conditions. Even though it was an Honorable Discharge, it was a crushing blow that I never recovered from. My lovely second son, Matthew was born 5 days later. It didn’t matter; my life would never be the same again.

Filled with sadness and misery, resentment and depression, I spent the majority of my adult life drinking and drugging my life into ruins time and time again. From 1994, until my divorce in 1997, I drank and began doing cocaine on a nightly basis. I used to only drink on extended weekends. However, since joining the car business, my frequency ramped up in a hurry. The automotive industry was an environment full of anything you wanted, when you wanted it. I was extremely successful and worked as many hours as I could, barely present in the home. I couldn’t handle the newfound wealth. I blew most of it and still had money to pay all the bills. I acquired and lost many, many jobs during those 3 years. I alienated nearly all of my friends with my drunken babblings and blackouts.

Nick’s Holy Communion – 1998

My relationship with my wife and her family was irreparably damaged. Eventually I spiraled down to the point that I simply left my family and moved back to NH, hell-bent on regaining my footing before I completely destroyed my family. But I had already told my wife I was leaving her in the Fall of 1997, and she promptly served me with Divorce Papers. I couldn’t blame her one bit.

I was never fully present in that relationship. I didn’t know how to be. Prior to my divorce, until I started getting regular visitation, I never gave fatherhood a chance. I was too distraught and too (seemingly) bent on my self-destruction; fixated on watching my world disappear into an abyss of drinking, drugging, nightmares, and misery. It took a mere three months for me to fail; for me to alienate dealership staff.

I was fired because, though my customers liked me, dealership employees hated me. I always thought it was because I was better at my job than they were. Yeah, boy was I ever wrong. I descended into the black wormhole of my despair and self-loathing, although I had no money to drink or drug. My nightmares, flashbacks resumed with a vengeance and I had panic attacks every time I heard noises outside my door.

I blacked out all the windows in my apartment. I ate toast and drank water. I went into the worst depression I had ever known. I lay on the couch for so many days straight I had to be given morphine for a massive ear infection I contracted for being on one side for so long.

I was not drinking or drugging the entire time I was in NH; perhaps that is why I crashed, I really don’t know. During the last week of January, 1998, I purchased a gun and ammo. I threw out most of my belongings and packed up the rest. Before I decided to kill myself, on my 35th birthday January 27th, I called to say goodbye to my children and my ex-wife promptly called the police who were charging through my apartment door in what seemed like minutes. It scared me so badly I vomited and threw the gun into the kitchen. I voluntarily committed myself to the Portsmouth Pavilion Hospital in Portsmouth, N.H.

Portsmouth Pavilion

After being an inpatient at the hospital for nearly two months and getting medications that turned me into an unfeeling zombi–I left heavily medicated—I left feeling guarded optimism. I secured a new position in the car business and my drinking was curbed to almost nothing. After about 6 months I was offered a better position at the Ira Motor Group, made too many drinking and drugging friends, and quickly fell back into the pattern of being a huge success in the car business and an utter failure personally. Cocaine had contributed significantly to my depression and ever-growing paranoia and panic attacks I experienced. But under its pull, I felt invincible and took the punishments with the highs…to be continued.

Part 6: Balancing Act

Before Recovery:  Part 4 – Heavy Burdens

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma LegacyPart 2: Wandering LostPart 3: Worlds Colliding
Heavy Burdens

….

With my life apparently going nowhere—I was unable to secure a job as a teacher upon graduating from College—I thought it would be great to serve my country and see the world.  I have always been exceptionally patriotic; something my friends during those years used to think was ridiculous. I did not.  I found something to believe in when I had no faith in myself.  My first attempt at joining was in 1990.  While I awaited enlistment far from my home in Trenton, NJ.

I had tried to get a teaching job that had forced my relocation from New Hampshire, and had gotten fired because I lapsed on my car loan and couldn’t transport one of the directors around–I tried to bury my depression, nightmares, loneliness, and self-loathing in a constant haze of booze and then, for the first time, cocaine.  I was told I was denied entry due to acne, but I know my enlistment officer knew I was getting high as I lived with him at the time.

Devastated by the Army’s rejection, I took my enlistment officer’s .357 and put it to my head and was going to kill myself; however, of all things, I let the fact that his kitten was looking at me freeze me in my tracks:  I didn’t like the idea of doing that to the animal.  I managed to save my money from waiting on tables for the mob (who paid quite well) and from selling shoes.  I saved enough to get myself to Massachusetts, where my two closest friends resided.

I managed to stay gainfully employed as a cook at the Mug N’ Muffin, my best friends family chain of restaurants, for nearly a year when the Persian Gulf War erupted;  it was then that I decided I would try to enlist again.  It was around that time that I met my future wife.  Exactly the same day I told her I was enlisting in the Army, in February of 1991, she informed me she was pregnant.  I decided for once that it just wouldn’t be right to leave her hanging with this baby by herself, that I would grow up and take responsibility and try to somehow make it work.

Though Basic Training was tough for me—I was 27 surrounded by much younger kids able to adapt more quickly than me—I was enthralled to be serving my country.  I think that experience somehow forced my hand by having me prematurely propose to my girlfriend on the phone during Basic Training, knowing full well my gut was telling me NO! I would have to hide in the latrine and cry and wretch as my nightmares threatened to collapse my sanity. But I gutted it out. I made it through Basic and completed my Advanced Individual Training in the top 2% of my class.

I married days after graduation.  In that dark and dreary church, with two friends, I knew I was making a terrible mistake.  But, true to form, I simply was incapable of thinking for myself and did it anyway.  I was assigned to Augsburg Germany as a Records Specialist straight out of AIT.  I loved being able to serve my country but I was very unhappy about being assigned to a country that committed the atrocities that it did. 

Before my spouse was allowed to come over, I had to make preparations and finish entering my duty station.  So I went to Germany and was alone from August of 1991 until early October.  Then the worst thing possible happened: my phone woke me up in the dead of night; my wife was screaming into the phone that she had lost our baby; that she had a miscarriage.  I will never forget what sounded to me like my mind literally tearing.  I will never forget telling God that night that I hated his f*&$-ing guts. 

A few years after I exited the Army, and only after many hours and hard drinking, the friend who had driven to South Carolina to be in my “wedding” years later, finally managed to convince me that my ex-wife had made up the story that she was pregnant.  After all, where was the body of my 8 month old dead child?  At what hospital did she have this miscarriage?  How did it all go down? 

After investigating those and other questions through hospital channels in and around Milton, Ma., I discovered the disgusting truth—though she never discussed it or would admit it—it was an impossibility that she “lost” our baby.  It took me a long, long time to forgive her for that.  I knew I had to if I was going to be, and stay, truly recovered.  I hadn’t given it much thought then.  But at the time of our marriage I did wonder why she didn’t show at all in August.  I did wonder at her seemingly calm demeanor through it all, when I was a hot mess.  Anyway, it must have creeped into my unconscious as our relationship eventually unraveled in time over in Germany.

I barely managed to keep things together with such back to back terrible incidents in my early military career.  I excelled at everything military and I quickly racked up military accolades and received a merit promotion with less than two years of service, even passing the Officer Candidate School Exam after two tries. 

However, Rob1, carrying heavy burdens from his youth and the sudden loss of his child, was slowly festering with a deep, unending sadness and depression. My highs and lows got higher and lower. I was slowly beginning to drink more heavily, retreated further into myself and withdrew from my ex who by then was pregnant again. I welcomed opportunities to get extra duty so I didn’t have to manage emotions, just manage the undemanding work of guard duty. Even the birth of my beautiful son Nicholas couldn’t save me…to be continued.

Part 5: Constant Chaos
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