Last night, after a 17.5 hour day which started with a 4 am airport drop-off, I arrived home to a frustrated, overwhelmed and tired wife who was in a full blown conflict with our just turned 5 year old daughter. It was all I could do to not become angry and resentful, after all, MY day was pretty damn long and I needed to go to bed. I kept my serenity and calmly offered to help, thank you AA, that would have never happened before, even if sober. Alas, that is not what this story is about.
As I put my daughter to bed and tucked her in I said, “Tomorrow will be a good day.” She immediately replied “I know Daddy, tomorrow will be better.” I was immediately struck dumb with the realization that she had so easily and naturally exhibited behavior that I am struggling so hard to relearn. The acceptance, forgiveness, faith, gratitude, and hope we alcoholics are struggling with was so automatic for her. I realized that, like her, I had these things once. It was I who had lost them. Actually not lost them, these traits are in the same place they have always been, the same place they are in my 5 year old daughter – It was I who had wandered away. I remember having a similar revelation in my first few weeks of sobriety, during that time when you are thinking you can never have fun again without the drink. I looked at my kids and saw the joy with which they live life, unaided by ethanol. It is possible I thought, and this has helped me get through.
I dont know if we lose our way because of the alcohol, or we are lost first and turn to it as a result. I guess it is probably a bit of both, which means it will feed on itself forever unless the cycle is broken. I did not simply take the wrong path, for that would imply I could easily retrace my steps and take the correct one. Nor am I up the creek without a paddle, for that would imply that if I only had a paddle I could easily return to where I should be. It is more like I have slowly drifted off to sea, without a paddle. Being given the tools is only one part of the solution, I need to use them to get back on course, a course which has long been forgotten. I feel that the 12 step program has given me some tools, and now it is up to me to use them.
At the end of the day, I am ok with being lost. Lost is not dead, lost is not forever, lost means that we can be found, lost means that “tomorrow can be better.”