I don’t know why I seem to always take a trip back down memory lane to my early sobriety days. Well I know why, it’s just something I try not to talk about too much even though there is a lot I have learned from it. It is also probably my subconscious screaming at me to get back into a normal routine with meetings. Anyways, the reason I wanted to talk about my sobriety for just a moment is because of a few things I have heard and learned, especially early on.
I was told over and over again that sobriety is very selfish. If you want to “keep the plug in the jug,” you have to be selfish. You have to put your sobriety before everything. That means if you have to disassociate with people, avoid certain social/family situations, see friends less, then that’s what you do. You can’t put your sobriety second to anything. A big part of selfish behavior with sobriety is taking time away from your loved ones to attend meetings or support groups. I would say for me that was the most selfish aspect of my sobriety. Another important piece of early sobriety is becoming far more risk averse when it comes to taking your sobriety out for a test-drive. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people predict the fact they can handle being at a party with a bunch of drunks because they just have to be around their friends. Taken one step further, there are also those in sobriety who believe that the only way to prove you are free from the desire to drink is to put yourself in situations where you have the choice. Well as the old saying goes, “If you hang around the barber shop long enough, you’re gonna get a haircut.” Yes, that saying is definitely far older than I am. But the point of it is true.
When Ava died, Leah and I didn’t know it at the time, but we were about to turn into very selfish people. There is no other way to put it but bluntly. It isn’t that we want to be selfish. But we have to be. So much of what I have learned in sobriety as it relates to the points I mentioned above also relates to us losing our daughter. Ava was and still is our pride and joy. She isn’t here because she died, and that really f—ing sucks. Because she isn’t here, we are stuck in this God-awful twisted reality where there is nothing that can just magically pull us out of it. This isn’t some disease we get cured of. It’s not some rehab where you go and get better. It goes on forever. It will change in time, but it will go on forever.
We are selfish because of the giant gaping holes in our hearts. We are selfish because the one thing– the one person — we want more than anything can’t be here and there is not a force on the planet or in this solar system that will give us what we want. The pain can be unbearable at times. Even when it’s manageable, there is still no pain like it. We have to protect ourselves so that we can heal and grieve on our own terms in whatever amount of time necessary. This means (like I said from a prior post) that whether its with friends or family, we may not always be in a position to take part in every event where there may be cause for celebration or happiness, or what have you. That happiness, especially if it relates to other children, can be extremely difficult to deal with. Sadly, this often comes off as though we don’t care, or we don’t love, or maybe if we are seriously misunderstood, we hate. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, it is a choice whether or not we partake in what would normally be happy occasions in life. Absolutely. But if we elect to sit something out, it’s because we are thinking about Ava. Our daughter. It’s not because of anyone else. It simply causes our grief to kick in full force. That’s where I say I sometimes will choose not to take my ability to withstand the worst pain on earth out for a real-life test-drive. I shouldn’t. There isn’t a single person we have heard in any support group who has ever said I should do anything that is going to put me in a place that I can’t handle, especially this early on. Yes, I’m selfish because of it and if I am judged for it, so be it. But I lost the person on this earth whose life was more valuable than my own. Not only that, I only got to be with her for a few days. I never heard her talk, I never figured out what her dreams were, I never got to figure a whole lot of things out. If that comes off as rudeness or some other adjective to better describe me, I can’t say that I am sorry and it isn’t necessarily because I don’t care. I met my daughter for the first time ever 48 days ago and she died 46 days ago. That’s very hard for me to deal with.
If I seem a little frustrated it’s because I am. That’s the isolating nature of losing a child. For those of you out there traveling along the path of grief because you also lost a child, I am sorry that you are going through what you are. I’m sure many of you can understand what I am saying. As Leah said, this all ebbs and flows and this is only how I feel at a point in time.
So to make sure I end this on a slightly positive note, we were trying to find financial assistance for Ava’s gravestone. That financial assistance finally came through. It didn’t pay for it, but it definitely helped. Without the financial support we have received from friends, family and complete strangers, I cannot imagine the place we would be in. It gives me this glimmer of hope that there are still people in this violent world that still have compassionate souls.
And of course Ava, I love you and I sure do miss you.