Sometimes, a man’s life ends and starts all at once. Birth is such a time.
2 years ago today, my wife and firstborn son gave me the gift of fatherhood. My old life ended; my new life began. I was born again (I detest the phrase “born again”, but there you have it). After the arrival of Jonah, all my prior experiences seem to have happened to a different man during a different lifetime.
At the time of his birth- no, actually, it was prior to his conception- I had two histories, two versions of myself, to confront. One was my recent history of using large volumes of alcohol as a social lubricant. The other was my natural, more reserved state of sobriety. I didn’t start drinking until the summer I turned 22, so I had years of adult experience with both realities.
Above all, I wanted to seek what is healthiest for my family and myself.
From summer 2011 to summer 2013, I tried to split the difference between my former selves. I drank occasionally, and usually moderately. But in summer 2012, I had way too much during a friend’s going-away party. I ended my night watching my son in his crib, tears welling in my eyes because I knew that I couldn’t safely hold him, nor could I be useful to my family if they needed me.
Over the course of the following year, I drank very rarely and usually aimed to keep my intake to a drink or two. Sometimes, I missed my goal. But, even when I did keep it to a couple drinks, I would end up feeling depressed and grouchy for days afterward. This moodiness sucked the fun out of family time.
On July 14, 2013, I ran into an old straight edge friend at a concert. I told him I was ready to throw the X’s back on my hands. I felt a surge of joy and energy when I considered another try at living chemical-free.
Quitting drinking hasn’t solved all my problems. It hasn’t made me the world’s most patient, most competent father. But, as my truly amazing spiritual counselor told me after I made the choice to go clean, now I will be confronting myself head-on without any easy diversions or bottles to help me hide.
As I carry this project forward, I’ll get into some of the issues that I’ve been confronting. I’d wager that my issues are the same issues most parents, and most non-parents struggle with too: spirituality/religion; money and budget; finding supportive community; stress; sleep; fun; children’s health; diet; home-duties; time for self; feeding important relationships.
I’ll do this all from the point of view of a dad committed to seeing life without a chemical veil. And if I get self-righteous about it, feel free to remind me that I had a solid decade of risky living, stupid choices, and enough dumb luck to get me to this point. In fact, I’ll end with a song from that July 2013 concert that I may need to break out in case of holier-than-thou emergency.