My back fence is falling over. It is a bit disturbing because I had the fence done only about 8 years ago and the fence itself is in great shape (as it should be), but the posts are rotten and the anchor cement is broken up.

Yesterday, with the dual purpose of fixing the fence and doing some father/son bonding with my 15 year old, I started the project. I am not a construction type guy by trade, but I do ok, remodeled a bathroom a few years ago, plumbing, shower, walls, tile and all. My son and I came up with a plan for a fix without destroying the whole fence, bought the repair items and cement, and got started. Turned out getting the old posts out was tougher than expected, especially when my Dad’s old air compressor finally died, as we were using an air hammer to chip out the old cement. As we dug in, we also discovered that the posts were in much worse shape than we had thought, I became doubtful that the metal braces we had planned to use, even with new cement, would be adequate.  Plan B did not go any better. Looked at detaching the fence panels from the posts so we could replace the entire post. It’s a somewhat fancy fence and I decided I couldn’t do it without destroying the good parts of the fence. So what now? Lance surrendered. Temporarily anchored the fence, returned the items to Home Depot, and make plans to call a fence guy.

Why is this a sobriety/recovery story you ask?

The Lance I knew a year ago would have never surrendered. Surrendering was weak and real men do not surrender. Through a haze of Budweiser fueled anger, I would have doggedly continued, likely alienating my son and the rest of my family in the process. I would have bought a new compressor, tools, sparing no expense to salvage my pride. My ENTIRE SELF-WORTH would have been wrapped up  in successfully completing the fence project. Oh, and don’t you know I would be expecting effusive accolades, praise, and gratitude for such an amazing feat of determination and skill; if I didn’t get it there would be hell to pay for those who withheld.

So Lance 2013 just gave up, and was quite ok with that. My son said “Dad, that was an adequate attempt at a project” and we had a good laugh, kid is hilarious. I used up a half day and enjoyed the rest, without beer, without anger, and without a repaired fence. This year my emotional fence is not leaning quite so much, a willingness to surrender and ask for help has shored up a couple of my rotten fenceposts. Life is better.

About A Beast Within

Trying to find myself, battling alcoholism, and other personal demons. Sharing the journey. View all posts by A Beast Within

3 responses to “Fenceposts

  • sswl

    Great to recognize that contrast, isn’t it? The urge to be right about everything when I was drinking seemed to come from feeling so wrong inside and the need to hide it. Nice to be able to laugh at your mistakes.

    Sounds like sobriety has made a big difference to your relationship with your son.

  • carrythemessage

    Great story and analogy! I too had my self-worth wrapped up in things, long past their due date, and past the point of anyone else caring except me. I had to somehow show everyone that I could do it, even if it killed me. And many times, it nearly did – proving I could drive when I couldn’t, proving that I could care for my son when I couldn’t. It was either shoot for and grab that golden ring or feel the self-flagellation of failure. Either way, alcohol fueled each.

    You’re right – we as men have somehow learned that failure is weak and weak men don’t survive. What a sham.

    Wonderful post. Really enjoying your writing.

  • michelle

    Great analogy! I laughed quite a bit at your story, since – surprise, surprise! – I can relate. Especially to the whole ‘get down on your knees and worship me for accomplishing such an amazing feat, even if I’ve been a miserable bitch the whole damn time’. Giggle. Thank goodness those days are over…

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