And So This is Christmas

“And so this is Christmas, and what have we done?”

As I reflect on the changes I’ve made in 2016, I feel that I can truly answer Lennon’s question with, “I’ve bettered myself.”

In March, I was at an all-time lowest low. It had been five years since my wife passed away, and my plan of drinking myself to death wasn’t working, thanks to my mead-swilling ancestors. I swelled up like a woodtick and was nearing 300 pounds. I had pretty much lost everything to booze: my house, friends, family, self-respect, hope. But I still had my three children, and it was my love for them that finally broke the curse, and I believe it when people say that love is the strongest force in the universe, because I know nothing less would have worked. Let me explain.

While I was stuck in non-stop party mode, my oldest child, Aaron, was spiraling out of control himself. With an alcoholic father and a drug addicted mother, the cards were stacked against him from the beginning, but he tried to rise above it, and went to college, got married, and bought a big house. With an anxiety problem, he, too, medicated himself with booze, and soon lost all three. That’s when he moved in with me and we saved each other’s lives —  but not before our drinking almost took his.

I remember waking up and realizing I was laying on a floor. Well, I’d been on more floors than Johnson’s Wax, so it was nothing unusual, until I opened my eyes. I was on the floor at a bar with Aaron lying unconscious next to me. I have a vague recollection of cops and paramedics. I was taken to detox, but Aaron went straight to the ER via ambulance. His blood alcohol level was at the place on the chart where the little guy has exes instead of dots for eyes. But he didn’t die, thanks to his mead-swilling ancestors. And still, we didn’t quit. We tried over and over, but severe alcohol withdrawal is so horrible. It’s like having your anxiety volume control knob tweaked wide open while you feel like you do just before you barf from the flu, and every tortured minute feels like an hour. This can go on for four or five days before you start to feel any relief at all, and the whole time you know you could end the suffering for two dollars.

Only slowly did it dawn on me that to continue drinking with my son was as sure to kill him as a bullet to the head. I had to quit. There was no option B.

So we went through withdrawal together and have been sober since. I’m on a health kick now, and I walk a lot. One week I logged 53 miles. I’ve hiked to every lake, river, and mine pit in the area, and in the Land of 10,000 lakes, that’s a grand tour. It was a wonderful summer, and to date I’ve lost almost 60 pounds. I imagine myself with a ten pound bag of potatoes strapped to each arm and leg along with one on my belly and one on my back. Whew! How did I even move?

My son is doing well too. He has a good job now, and he runs over 5 miles to work, hardly breaking a sweat.

I started my blog in April, writing short shorts and poems and such, but I’m just getting warmed up. I hope to become a real writer someday, and I’m glad that WordPress gives me the opportunity to practice…and better myself. Merry Christmas. And a happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one, without any beer.

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