After a week of sobriety, I thought about doing the fourth step. I can’t, I just can’t. It is too deep of a well to explore. I’ll never get out of it sane. And no fifth step will ever convince me that these regrets will magically disappear.
I know this journey is supposed to produce a better human being. And I know that I’ve been a pretty selfish being; sometimes human (well, half-human). The root of my character defects is that I am selfish. That is the one thing that June W. and I still have in common. It’s probably what attracted us to each other. I know, pretty sad.
I don’t want to be selfish any more. Yet, I have little to give. Everything is gone. I am working on the selfish flaw; I have been for the last five years. June could see that. That first time we got together after I’d been sober for nine months, I could see the feelings inside her. She was envious that I had a break from the rat-race to re-evaluate myself. I think she could see that I’d lost the lust for greed; that was something we had in common. That was a drive that took our careers in so many wrong directions.
But, she saw so many more changes in my character. She at least saw that I’d become a different person, hopefully better. I think I have become a better person over the last five years, although my bank statement would beg to differ.
I can say this for sure: I clearly know right from wrong. I know how I got into this mess. I know the steps it takes to mess up. And I know that sharing those lessons honestly with my next friend, lover, co-worker, or boss; will clearly end that relationship. That’s where the anonymous part comes in.
Remember my first wife, Alison M. She was a known alcoholic, and yet I still married her. I thought I could fix her...silly me. I should say ignorant. Because, when an enabler, like me, marries an addict, he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. What I’m talking about here is I used to be on the other side of the fence. I used to be the one surrounded by addicts. I was the social drinker. I mean I tried several drugs, but none really tripped my trigger.
Then I met Alison. It was a typical pub-crawl night where my brother, Robert J., and I would go to a club that hosted older ladies. It was called The Hop in Huntington Beach, CA, owned by the Righteous Brothers. It was late in the evening when I asked Alison to dance. She responded very suspiciously. “What, you don’t want to dance with those other young blondes?”, she said. I convinced her that I really was attracted to her. I could tell she was in a pissed mood. How much so, I’d only learn later.
That night, Alison was like a mustang I had to break, to tame...and I did. I seduced her. She drove me home. We fell into the pool. Our cloths fell off. We made hot passionate love. And when she woke up, she had a smile on her face. She was a different person than the woman I’d asked to dance the night before.
I never really understood the Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde effect that happens with sever alcoholics; like Alison, and later, me. What I found out later, through deduction, that Alison was in her frenzy stage of drinking that night she went to the bar. When we fell into the pool (okay, I pushed her on purpose), I discovered that she was only wearing a small top and skirt; no underwear (I drew a line, in the water, up her leg to find her panties only to discover there were none; talk about arousal). She was cruising; and acting crazy.
This is what happened: Alison was pissed about something (it really doesn’t matter with us alcoholics; it’s just another excuse to drink). She got home from work, decided that the day was shot, so why not open up the red wine and indulge. She deserved it after the crap the military gave her that day (She worked for McDonald-Douglas). Then against her sober judgment, she split off wearing little, to her favorite dance bar. She probably didn’t even think about changing.
She was attracted to me when she saw me dancing with other ladies. But, at the same time, she was pissed that she wasn’t initially asked to dance. Her anger grew. When I finally got around to asking her to dance, she thought she was last-call. That’s why the angry greeting.
Back then, when I was 25, I knew; I just knew I could kick any habit. I’d already kicked a few (meth and coke). They took a toll on me. I saw in Alison a woman that I could “fix”. Engineers are all about fixing things, right? So, I agreed to fix Alison.
We got married in Las Vegas. We told no one.
As a husband, I learned early that it is very important to get home early (not to work late) to monitor her drinking habits. At that time in my career, I worked late. I worked until the problem was solved; typical engineer stuff. But, if I didn’t get home before Alison started drinking, she would switch into the Mr. Hyde mode. She’d get paranoid, hyper, angry and crazy. It would take all my effort to calm her down enough to feed her dinner. It was a stress: I must get home before she starts drinking.
And the next day, she wouldn’t remember a thing; total black out. She’d be chipper as a bird.
The funniest thing is that I never saw any of this behavior in me. I did everything that Alison did and more before I ever really got A.A. Talk about denial. And I was worse. Even when I talked about denial, I was in denial.
So, I know how people view alcoholism: in stages; stages of denial, really. No one really wants to fall in love with an alcoholic. No one wants to hire an alcoholic. And no one wants to admit that the person they fell in love with is an alcoholic. That’s why they call it anonymous.
What I’m trying to say is that no one above your sanity level will understand the depths of danger below until they’ve experienced it. But, by then, of course, it’s too late.
-- Without Wax
P.S. Has anyone figured out why I sign Without Wax?