Nov 16, 2021
8 mins read
What is it, you may wonder, is this all about? Its a long distant memory for me at the moment, almost 6 months ago. I was on, what they call, "The pink cloud."After many dive bars, thousands of dollars spent, forgettable conversations, and mornings throwing up before a cold shower, getting ready to supervise the 100+ people that looked up to me.
It's all there, sentence after sentence, a ruminating thought for years. Not knowing if it's the right place, right time, what events yet to come. But that picture up there, is in June, 2021. I had slayed a dragon, one which, I thought, would bask me in fire, no matter the chivalrous nature of my willpower. But here I stood proud, with my jalapenos I had nurtured all winter, germinating between an icy window, and the warmth of the living room; yearning for the spring sun, just as I was, after a long miserable winter. One year anniversary, clean and sober, for the first time in a couple decades. Astonishing feat, admired by friends and family, hated on, by those still under the dragons wing. I wrote a social media post, which you can read above. It was quite a hit, no drafts, no plans. I was proud, sat down on that familiar futon, the same that nestled my ass every night, plowing an 18 pack of Miller light. Bleary eyed, jovial Santa exterior, but on the inside, a guilt drenched soul of self loathing.
In my high school years, I clamored for a spot with the cool kids. The class clown, the guy that loved the spotlight, and the seizure of the opportunity for the perfectly timed wisecrack. My pinnacle goal, to make the teacher laugh, in unison with my peers, it filled the void of the emptiness inside me. The boy that grew up being beaten, punched, kicked, moonshine spat in his eyes. The boy that reaching back to the beginning, his first memory, sitting on the counter in pampers; screaming in horror as his brother's hand was held on a cutting board, a butcher knife on his fingers. My fathers jet black slicked hair, the undulating wrinkles and eyebrows to the darkness of his rage filled pupils. The saxophone solo, of, Gerry Raffertys, Baker street on the hifi, a moment emblazoned in my head forever. My greatest fear, as foolish in retrospect my mature mind now acknowledges, I didn't want these kids to have any inkling of my hell at home, as trailer park jokes most certainly ensue. Also, that I had a decent head on my shoulders, all thanks to my deep affection for books. The smell of aged paper, and the solace the turning of pages provided. Petrified, by pop culture, fearing, that I would be cast down to the, "Poindexter", table in the commons at lunch. Jeered as a bookworm nerd, just as that faceless nobody, that you've had as a social media friend since 2003. No clue he was in your class til 2015. God forbid these people knew, but, the teachers did, another fear, I danced for 4 years. Slowly drifting over the next four years, to a classic under achievers. Looking back, I wish I had sat at that Poindexter table, more sustenance, than my pretentious facade.
Yes, a bookworm, picked it up a few months before kindergarten. Our Columbian nanny, (My father, owning a business that required frequent travel.) Somehow, in barely understood, broken english, "The night before Christmas"as my template she taught me. For the entire week, her patient kindness, opened the flood gates of literary curiosity. My escape, away from this reality of fear, tear stained eyes, drying moments after sleep, nearly every evening. The screams and cries of my mom, the frightened involuntary jolts, hearing the strikes and slaps, the crashing of furniture, and the drunken, repetitive, verbal rage. I woke at 4am most every morning, thumbing my way through book after book. Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, A Cricket in times square. The Hardy Boys, and even Nancy Drew. An entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica, Greek mythology, geography, to the classics of Tom Sawyer, Last of the Mohicans, Treasure Island. Trips to the library every 2 weeks, as we lived in a rural area, on a small farm. My early reading joy, after feeding pigs and chickens for a good 90 minutes before the bus ride. And, like many other days, years later, after the bus ride home; a freshman, stepped off the bus, the familiar sense of dread as I walked home nice and slow, anxious to get into, now, Stephen King.....Why, why so slow? Was I afraid of the rage beast, the nightmare of my reality? No, he had been buried for years, in a town a few hours north. No, I walked slow, to prolong the moment, the transition back to my new misery,from the laughter of peers, and disappointed teachers; to the English Leather soaked, redneck prison guard, that my mother had married a few years later. The machismo, chain smoking mother fucker, that despised me. Whom seized every opportunity, to degrade, minimize and physically attack with rage. Yes, God had played me, for the first time I had ever prayed in my life, was the few years before. A cardiac arrest, the first rage beast, came slumbering on all fours, into the living room, his face a gaunt hue of purple,had propped himself on the couch, as his heart clenched and imploded in searing pain. The first tears I had ever seen from his head, coming down his cheeks. I broke from the, Peters Volcano, (Today, I'm a Freshman), episode ,of the Brady Bunch, with excited and happy zeal. Planted knees against the couch, and prayed for God to take him now, please, it was the last words my father heard in his last breath. I was 8 years old. And now, he was making me pay.
So there I sat, 6 months ago, a single social post, putting myself out there. My proudest moment ,many accolades and attaboys , it had surprised my friends, and coworkers. The next day, I was approached by many , asking, where did such talent come from? As a brash, bearded, tattooed raspy voiced, fowl mouthed bossman, it had surely surprised them. I started to write the book that evening. I had thought over the last few months, after coming out of the haze of alcoholism and drugs, that there are others, others still in the shit. Others racked with guilt, the neglect, of their own kids, the kids they promised themselves , they would never hurt. They were unfortunate souls, caught in the wake of abuse, and unfortunately hurt in a different way. I can do something, something to contribute, to help break other cycles, and maybe, save some down the family tree of the future. And maybe some day, my kids would forgive me, and their pain could subside as well.
That is why, why I am here. After a few months, a few hours a night, typing away, oblivious, to the beasts that lay dormant, deep down inside. The mix of angry patrons at work, the incessant demands of management; hundreds of text messages, scheduling my managers, no lunches for 5 years, (and not getting paid for those 30 minutes). The constant bickering of my associates, crazy immature drama, everyone getting high in the parking lot, and the encroaching repression, from delving into the book, had culminated to a singular moment. On the way home, in the road rage filled melee, of pandemic pandemonium, all the anger and stress finally manifested. Baker Street on the fucking radio.... My chest tightened, my hands wet, I pulled my car to the shoulder, panic took over, a drowning sensation. A bit later, I came to. A highway patrolman,was shaking me, back to reality. Felt like I was asleep for a long time. Drove home after awhile, telling the HP, no way in hell was I going to a hospital. He understood, he was concerned about me wrecking, but I assured him I was ok. Luckily he was really cool, I had no idea what he looked like, covered with that ubiquitous face mask.....
The last few months of that pink cloud, there were moments, where massive amounts of seratonin were released and it was very foreign. It was the first time I had felt real joy. My estranged sons were back on a static talking level, my main motivation all summer. For putting up with all the, "new normal, horseshit" was the fact I was taking my son, my middle child, that as a baby, thought the whole world of me; to San Francisco, for a week of adventures, and some father son reconstruction.
He ended up, after I had payed for everything, deciding, to not go. It was a difficult pill to swallow. It hurt more than anything, I dropped off the earth that day. Now, here I am, in a cocktail of deep depression, and constant state of panic. Agoraphobia; something I scoffed at previously, as psychosamatic bullshit, is now the world I live in.
Repression, stress, fear. I can make it to the post office box, as now, my only form of income is selling things to strangers online. I force myself to sleep, I dont sleep long, the panic attacks fucking crippling, I feel I'm going to die every time. I am still sober, estranged, again from all 3 of my kids, afraid an attempt to make things better, will only make things worse. I will be 47, on Sunday the 21st, and my only real goal, to finish this book. I feel deep down, this is all happening for a reason, and perhaps it will let me move on as a cathartic passage, and for the closure, that my subconscious obviously needs.
Pray for me. With zeal.