It's been a month since my dad died and I'm now 8 months sober.
When I first learned what happened, one of my very first thoughts was: you can drink now. This is a big enough thing. This is the reason. No one would fault you. This is too hard to manage sober.
And that is probably true.
But I didn't do it.
Instead I just let myself be. I retreated into my own world and took comfort in memories with my family. We got together and divided pictures and watched home movies and read his old letters and cried. He was a really sweet, loving man. He called me bean head and quizzed me every time a song came on the radio. "Who sings this Colleen?" "Mott the Hoople, dad." And then he would look at me with pride.
Seeing his image young and beautiful and healthy is heartbreaking. He was barefoot and jean shorts. He was summertime. But the running theme in the photos and the videos, was the ever present beer in his hand. It was the foreshadowing of the future.
When we cleaned out his room, there were hundreds of empty beer boxes stacked in folded piles. Empty cans tucked in nooks. A corner in his room full of empty 30 packs that hadn't been broken down yet that almost hit the ceiling. He was sleeping on a mattress with the sheets barely on one corner. There were pots filled with vomit hidden around his room, even vomit on the floor. He was really sick.
I don't need to know why he killed himself. I don't question it. He was suffering. Truly truly suffering.
But I still can't stop wondering what life would be like if he had ever tried to get sober. I can't stop wishing he was healthy and that I could have had another 30 years with him. It crushes me into oblivion when I think about how sad and lost and about how huge his pain was that he couldn't bear it anymore. And I wish I could have done something about it.
So what do I do with that. I get out of bed everyday and I don't drink. That's the only goal of my day. I feel all of my own pain, and I pretend my way through the day at work so no one has to be uncomfortable by the grief stricken girl, but I feel it all the same. Sometimes I laugh and I forget for second, and then it all washes over me again and I have to sit with it. That's grief. It's every flavor of emotion all at the same time and it just hangs with you like an uninvited hitchhiker that won't get the fuck out of your car. It's a poltergeist that follows you from house to house. Grief feels a lot like guilt, all of the time.
But here's where I get to my point. I'm ok. I really am. I've been ok sober. People are made of really strong stuff. Even the ultra sensitive canaries in the coal mine. I'm writing this to say, don't live your life waiting for the big excuse to drink again. I think I sort of was. Also, don't live your life for just now either. Living in the day to day is what destroyed my father. We HAVE to know that what we do to our bodies produces consequences and that whole "I can quit tomorrow" philosophy is bullshit. What you do to your body today is what matters. Don't poison it. The poison of alcohol WILL destroy your body from the inside out. Every part of it. Even if the thing you drink is "just beer". That's all my dad drank.
Anyway there are so many layers to peel in this, so many things that are being revealed now, so many things I want to say that aren't fully formed, but I just wanted to check in. I'm doing better. I'm ok. I'm paying attention. Like, really paying attention now.