Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Angels I Don't See PART XV

Part's I-XIV here

In the fall of 2007 I put pen to paper and listed all my greatest fears. Known as a fear inventory, this exercise in sobriety was meant to reveal, in plain sight, what in my overactive imagination I feared most and how exactly those fears were impeding my recovery.

The first four fears on the list were 1) Losing Ric 2) Becoming homeless and destitute 3) Being accused of a crime I didn’t commit and 4) Ric or me contracting an incurable disease.

As I discussed my fears with my mentor at the time, I could hardly imagine what utter hell it would be like to live through any of them. As I conjured up scenarios in my mind, each fantasy ended with either suicide or drinking myself to death. I did not have the emotional fortitude to withstand any situation that included any of those four things.

But staying alone at my friends house allowed me time to reflect. On the night of January 3rd, after yet another plea on the phone with Ric to do as Dr. M instructed and go back to the hospital, it hit me that each of those four fears were no longer imaginary. Instead, they were as real as the air I breathed.

I was in the throes of such unspeakable agony and yet I had not acted as I presumed I would. There was nary a thought of suicide and the thought of a drink repulsed me in ways it never had before. Instead something remarkable was happening.

Life on life’s terms was no longer a slogan cooked up in a smoke filled basement of some church by a bunch of drunks in need of a drink. Rather, it was a possible new way forward. Whereas in my past I managed to shirk life’s reality in a gadarene rush to the margins, I no longer had such a luxury. In fact, there were only two options left.

I could face my fears, bundled as they were, and risk defeat.

Or I could declare defeat without a fight, ensuring a future that was wholly controlled by my circumstances, thereby ceding my fate to everyone and everything except me. This option would also hasten Ric’s death.

If I chose the former, I would be navigating uncharted waters. Up to that point my decisions were always made by determining what would bring optimum comfort and minimum pain (an MO, by the way, that ironically almost always brought about the opposite). Steering my life instead of my life steering me was a foreign concept and the possibility that I might fail to meet those challenges was more incentive to just do nothing.

If I chose the latter, I could simply allow the situation to dictate the outcome like a rudderless boat adrift at sea, praying that one day by some miracle I would make it back to land. Though this option would be painful, it would also be easiest. And when it was all said and done, I could wallow in my defeat and bemoan the uncontrollable winds of life. Besides, there was already a drumbeat of doomsayers in my life that were whispering from the safety of the shore to put Ric in a state run home and secure my belongings at the apartment, chirping from their broken lighthouses words like eviction and death.

“He’s just jumped out of the car! It was moving and he just jumped out! He...”

“Where are you, sir?”


“What is your location, sir?”

Behold, the power of the wind.

Part XVI here

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