Journal Entry 4: Counting Days 

It has taken me 47 days to write this. Mostly two days of writing, many days in between of feeling nothing, other days crying, and a few feeling anxiety at the thought of finishing it, of putting myself through finishing it, of acknowledging my feelings, of sharing them. Sharing my life experiences is how I get through them; writing is how I reflect, learn, grow, move on – sharing it is how I come to peace with my experiences, bond, and reflect more. It is by far my favorite thing to do.

Therefore, I leave you with this disclaimer: This post may hit you hard. I have yet to post anywhere about this matter in my life for the past month and a half because I don’t want or need anyone’s sympathy, pity, attention… but as I said, my writing is my passion, my soul, my strength. And I hope that from my posts, you can feel and connect with something extraordinary.

Here’s the reality: my life is insanely eventful, and not always in a good way.

Reality #2 – Maybe I will never be a good blogger because of it.

Reality #3 – I’m sitting here explaining to you yet again that I am a bad blogger because of my dramatic life, like I have for every journal entry.

Reality #4 (the saddest reality of all) – My hectic life makes for good content. But this post, in particular, took me a lot of courage and anxiety attacks to get to you.

So, per usual, here goes nothing…

Why is it that we designate or expect so much from certain people just because of their titles in our life? “Mom”, “Dad”, “Aunt”, “Uncle”…

Why do we let them give us emotional/personal problems because of their lack of fulfillment within those roles?

Why do we typically look at them as that role and only that, rather than a human being going through whatever it is that they may be experiencing?

Why do we shun them for not being able to fulfill that role without considering their own problems?

I sat for countless hours and I flipped. And flipped and flipped. Two large 5 subject notebooks filled to the brims – 873 people’s names (and counting) scribbled along the lines. I had found my fathers notebooks buried in the bottom of the bookshelf in his room from his time in rehab (while in rehab from drugs/alcohol you go through the 12 steps). 873 people, 322 pages, one mans entire life spilled and separated into sections of analytical reconciliation. These were his deepest feelings, his fears, his anger, regrets. I was getting inside his head.

15 years.
It has been 15 years since my dad had gotten into a motorcycle accident and sat in a coma, soon to wake up with minor brain damage, but still able to once again live a high functioning life.
“Rhode Motorcycle & Bike,” he wrote, in one of his lists (in one of the steps, you write about the places & things you did, and the negative actions you took)…
“No helmet. No pads.”
“Accident,” he wrote…
“Lost house, job, fiance, money, relationships, hope, faith, God.”
“Another motorcycle,” he wrote…
“Made people worry about me.”

47 days.
It has been 47 days since my dad tossed his leg around his motorcycle for the first time in years and decided to take it for a spin.
47 days since that night when he pulled it into a bar parking lot to meet a friend.

47 days now that my dad has been in a coma.
47 days of tubes. Of nothingness. Of sleep. Of stability with no signs of change. Of sadness. Of confusion. Of numbness.

9 days I sat there next to him in the hospital wondering where he was. A body there but a soul wandering. Some days sitting there watching him I felt so alone. He wasn’t with me. Other days I could see his lids flickering, his fingers twitching and lips rumbling. I wanted to believe then that he was there with me, somehow.

I was always embarrassed of my father. Writing that sentence alone hurts my soul. I was embarrassed. Cheer competitions, graduations, even out to dinner – I was embarrassed to be with him, because I knew (the sum) of his past, his life, his mistakes. I knew about the drugs and the alcohol. I didn’t want to be in pictures with him or let him take pictures of me in fear he would post them online.
13 years since I’ve owned my own camera. 13 years with the ability to take my own pictures. 13 years of memories piled in boxes in my bedroom – none with my dad.

But since I’ve become a young adult, I started calling him 3 times a week and speaking to him for hours on end about life, about mine, about his, my relationships, his, his jobs (or lack-thereof), his substance abuse.
I called him when I was upset and I would cry.
I called him when I was in one of my depressive funks and he would make me laugh.
I called him when I needed help and he was always surprisingly there. When I was stranded at a gas station alone in the middle of a snow storm somewhere in Maryland. When I needed a car. When I needed a phone, even though the bill wasn’t always paid. The first time my ex and I broke up and I needed a flight home. The second time, too. When I called him crying and needed a flight to California.

He always wanted to give to me, even when he didn’t have much for himself.

It took me a long time to learn about and understand substance abuse.
It took me a long time to learn who my dad really was.
It took me a long time to grow the courage to look past the addict and see the human, to stop hurting when he fell back into it again, to stop trying to be his reason for change and to simply just enjoy him when I had him sober. For so long I wanted to be his reason to not pick up the bottle. I thought that maybe I could change him, but I couldn’t. No one could.

Rarely, even after my love for him grew, did I have the courage to admit that to anyone – that he was human, that I cared about him even though he couldn’t always care about me, that I wasn’t enough for him to change. It was my kept secret because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want the judgement or ridicule for caring so much about someone who could only care about me while they were sober – who could care more about his addictions than me. And I know that that’s not true; being an abuser is a mental illness, but that’s how it felt. The only way that I can understand it is by comparing it to depression – sometimes, when suffering from depression, one is horrifically sad for no reason at all, or for reasons that are no longer relevant to their daily life just because their brain is making them sad, telling them to be sad – so sad that they think that life isn’t worth living and that they should die. Imagine that? Wanting to die? Your brain is tricking you into thinking that your life should end, and for some, it does. When I think about addiction I think the same thing – your brain is tricking you into thinking you need that bottle, that puff.
My dad suffered from depression. He wanted to die multiple times and even tried to kill himself. Growing up he was bulimic and had severe insecurity issues and still did till this year.
I’m not making excuses for him. He chose to get on that bike and ride it to a bar. He chose to leave his last rehab (and countless ones before that).
Really, the point I’m trying to make is going back to what I was saying at the beginning of all of this… Do we ever really see the human, or just the title?

I suppose we see the title because we, as their children, are supposed to be that exception – us, the mini blobs of them that they chose to bring into this world. Keyword: chose.

But even then, still, I question it.
I’m not saying that any mistakes are okay just because someone might be going through something personally that they can’t get control of – but overall, in any relationship we have with someone in our life, all I can say is think about them, too. Think about if it was you. And for those dealing with loved ones with addiction: that it’s okay.
It’s okay to give up, to not be strong enough to deal with their issues, to think about yourself and your feelings first.
It’s okay to bury your hurt and their issues just to keep a relationship with them when they’re sober.
It’s okay to hurt and then not hurt at all.
It’s okay to be too forgiving – you are not weak.
But it’s okay to not always stay strong.
It’s okay to hurt for them and still not be able to help.
It’s okay to still love and care even after they may have hurt you for the drugs and alcohol.
And that it has nothing to do with you – you are enough.
And being there at all can mean the world to someone in need, even if they aren’t showing you or you can’t give them what it is they’re needing.

Stay loving.
Stay compassionate.
It’s all okay.

-alex

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