Monday, March 07, 2005

All Too Familiar

I spent another day with my son yesterday. We had a wonderful time together. I'm so grateful he is doing well, a happy, cheerful boy. He really is a pleasure to be around. He is growing and changing so fast. He loves to count, loves to read, loves to climb all over Daddy, LOVES to run. Yesterday he climbed all the way to the top of the McDonald's playground tower for the first time. And he started learning to identify the colors of the dots on his blanket.

I'm grateful to have a clear enough head, and the beginning of willingness to set aside my self-absorption, to be able to focus on and enjoy my son. He really is very engaging, and I seem to be open enough for him to engage with me. I love him so much! :)


My resentments and distrust of my wife are still going quite strong. Even as I was enjoying my boy playing, the "McDonalds-on-weekends-dad" image was not lost on me. My wife and I didn't have a fight or anything -- I think mostly because I responded to her with silence when I didn't have a response she wanted to hear. Walking around her rather scruffy neighborhood, I was incredulous, once again, that she chose this environment for herself and our son, as preferable to working together to rebuild a good family and home in a safe and friendly neighborhood. She complained a lot about how early she has to get up to get the boy to day care and get to work on time, and how uneasy she is taking our son to the car (wherever she found a spot on the street the night before) in the morning with all the weirdos hanging around.

In some ways the day was all too familiar. My wife had said she was going to go out grocery shopping and running errands while I was with our son at her apartment. She ended up sleeping all day, getting out of her pajamas long enough in the late afternoon for me to go to the grocery store with her.

How many weekends were spent like that when we were together?? A typical Saturday and Sunday routine was that we would have plans to go to the beach, or the park, or some other activity. I would get up at 7:00 am (with a low-grade hangover and far too little sleep, of course) with our son, and be with him by myself until noon or one or two when my wife finally woke up to drag herself around the house the rest of the day.

Weekday mornings I got up (hungover and unrested) with our son, got him dressed and started on breakfast until the fulltime nanny/housekeeper arrived and I took off to work. My wife seldom stirred, let alone woke up or got out of bed, before I went to work. I really have no idea what my wife did all day. Supervised the nanny/housekeeper, I guess. Sat on the patio telephoning her friends about how wealthy and successful she's going to be, any day now.

So I don't really have a lot of sympathy with how tough my wife's life is now. She decided she would have a better life on her own. She decided to move to another city to make a living, without considering the consequences, without considering the obstacle it created to my ability to help.

I just hope she holds it together for a few more weeks until I can move to LA, find work and get settled a bit, and be better prepared to be the primary caregiver for our son -- then she can go ahead and come unglued and indulge herself in the nervous breakdown I see coming.


When I was out in my wife's neighborhood, I wanted to run away from it. I don't want to live in a dirty, crowded, alienated, scary urban neighborhood. I had enough of that growing up -- it, too, is all too familiar. Some of the oldtimers in AA think I'm making a big mistake moving to LA, even though those who know me best think I'm doing the right thing.

Yet, staying sober and building a life in LA come down to the same things I need to stay sober and build a life here.
  • Avoiding isolation -- engaging in the community, and being open to being engaged by the people in the community.
  • Trusting in God -- even though I'm moving to a place and circumstance I never imagined myself in, a type of environment I consciously moved out of years ago, where I can't readily see God's purpose for me, I have to believe that God's purpose will be revealed.
  • Putting first things first -- my son deserves a father who is the best father he can possibly be, and I will not be happy and serene if I am not the best father I can be. The first priority is showing up. Where he is, that's where I must be.


At 3/07/2005 11:31:00 AM, Blogger recoveryroad said...

Hi Phil! I was thinking of over the weekend. I'm pleased you saw your boy.

You know, your post really struck start off both of the first paragraphs with your gratitude, and that is such an incredible thing for one alcoholic to write so another alcoholic can read about it. Thank you. :-)

PHIL WROTE - "I spent another day with my son yesterday. We had a wonderful time together. I'm so grateful he is doing well, a happy, cheerful boy......
I'm grateful to have a clear enough head, and the beginning of willingness to set aside my self-absorption...I love him so much!"

Your gratitude is humbling to read. And you know what? The line about "..a clear enough head..." hit me. I was thinking exactly the same thing on my way to a meeting this morning. It was an early start in a town in England that don't know too well. I asked myself how the hell did I manage to do this stuff when I had a hangover (or was shaking)????

Goodness. Looking back I can see now how agonising it was to keep poisoning myself physically as well as mentally. It was exhausting.

I've never been married before and I don't have kids of my own, but I reckon if you hang on to the enormous, wonderful and beautiful gratitude you wrote about (viz; your boy) and deal some tolerance and serenity towards your Ex, you're gonna have a hell of a good recovery.

You yourself have written about how grateful you are, and I know you won't let her (or anyone else) piss on your parade (pardon my British expression).

warm wishes in Fellowship


At 3/07/2005 04:31:00 PM, Blogger K said...

Wow, your ability to persevere in such tough times is amazing. I can really see God working in your life.

I can completely understand your struggle with having to be a "weekend dad" and things that go on with your son's mother. I don't think there is anyway to completely avoid those frustrations but if it helps remember; this is an enormous change taking place in your life and its all happening relatively quick. Your goal of being a stronger and sober Christian father is actually done, your just working hard at keeping and perfecting it - hopefully your giving your self the pat on the back you deserve. Stay strong, keep your prayers up and don't let others get you down. However frustrated or down you get you have God, AA, and an incredible ability to change and be flexible. And the will you have to change and be flexible is a RARE asset in the human race from what I've seen in my little life. Your story is a privilege and an inspiration to read and although you will have to start over in a new city in not the best of circumstances, its only up from here. You have so much going for you especially with all the tools you have. Try to focus each day on the steps you've taken the day before toward your overall goal and what step however small you can take today. Its similar to crossing things off a list as you take care of them - for most people including me it gets a big positive flow going.

Maybe it will help to contact the AA group in the part of L.A. you will be in along with contacting a few different churches in the general area you'll be apartment hunting in. Getting a relationship going with them ahead of time might really help. You may like one minister's style better than the other, one church may have a better youth program for you son to grow into. I really just want to be helpful and supportive so whether these ideas are helpful or not you shall remain in my families prayers

Stay strong brother

At 3/07/2005 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Thanks, Kenny and Lady Bossco, your encouragement helps a lot. I've found myself in the slough of self-pity today (seems my typical frame of mind the day after visits with my wife). When that happens, I start losing my grip on the second step -- hopeless, fearful, it won't get better, I give up, etc., etc.

And when step two gets shaky, step three becomes incomprehensible to me. That's a really nasty place to be. I've come far enough that losing touch with my higher power gets me panicky.

Lady Bossco, I admire so much the strong relationship you have with God, it seems such an easy and natural foundation of your everyday life. I know that is because you have committed your life to Christ, joyfully and without reservation. I've made the decision, I keep sticking my toe in the water, but I haven't let go and just jumped in.

And Kenny, you point out, once again, that my wife is not my enemy, but my resentments toward her are, those resentments I so fervently cherish and nurture.

So I've had a day of anger, self-loathing, atheistic prayers and the urge to give up. But I made two important decisions:

First, even though I wanted to say to hell with it, I prepared for and will attend my step workshop tonight. Third week on step four, so it's just possible I may get some benefit. :)

Second, I decided not to have a drink today.

BTW, Lady Bossco, thanks for your advice about finding a church and AA meetings before moving. I actually intended to do that yesterday (mapquested and everything), but my schedule didn't permit it. So I'm encouraged I'm on the right track since you suggested it independently.

At 3/07/2005 07:59:00 PM, Blogger Redhead Gal said...

Hi Phil: Congrats on 51 days! What a great thing you are doing for your son (and of course yourself) by staying sober. He deserves a sober, attentive parent.

At 3/08/2005 02:33:00 AM, Blogger bikipatra said...

Congrats on your sobriety!


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