How does my dad’s death relate to Clark’s? How am I making connections between them?
My hour-long therapy session this morning was so intense and I cried so hard. I love nothing more, though, than linking up parts of my life to create an entire picture. In my brain it looks like a shoebox I decorated while in high school with (obviously hilarious in retrospect) clippings from magazines. I kept little souveneirs and reminders in it.
Why did I freak out two weeks ago when I ran into a guy I dated for a brief period of time before he blew me off? Well, I had really liked him, and I had trusted him. And then I turned out to be wrong about him. Who else have I trusted only to be disappointed and proved wrong? DING DING DING. In reality, the asshat who didn’t want to date me has no effect on me. His treatment of me says nothing about what kind of person I am. He sucks, and I’m not dating him anymore. I win. But the fact that I was earnestly believed in his goodness and was then wrong about him … that’s some Hunchback of Notre Dame bell-ringing, for sure.
My father’s death was preceded by a weeks-long period of craziness on his part. He and his third wife of 13 years or so were separating. He wanted to tell the family about it, so he told all of us via email. In the emails that followed he asserted that he didn’t have a drinking problem.
The sentences that I find hardest to read, which are in the last email he wrote to us, are these:
“One of the twelve steps in AA tells you that you go back to anyone that you have damaged in your life due to your imperfections and your drinking, re-hashing the past and offering sincere apologies. I never saw any value in such actions. Again, we can’t change the past. I believe it to be much more positive to actively live today and in the future as the best person we can be, totally outside of ourself [sic] and into the well being of others.”
“Let me state that I simply do not believe that I am an alcoholic. Granted, I have always been prone to excess with a number of things in my life. That is just my genetic makeup. There are many times in my life that I embarrassed myself or others with excessive drinking, acting like a college frat boy while inebriated. But, I don’t recall ever being belligerent or mean, just stupid in a stupid state. To satisfy others, I’ve attended many AA meetings over my life. I went into those with a humble and open mind, listening carefully of all that was said, but never got one single thing out of those efforts. I never lasted more than 2 or 3 meetings before I felt it was simply a waste of my time.”
I was never going to be enough here. Nothing I could do would ever be enough to change him, to get him to keep the handfuls of promises he made to a younger me that he would quit drinking. It was completely out of my hands. So was Clark’s disease.
So when my therapist told me that all I need to be – and all I am – is enough for just myself, well. That’s something I can work on believing.