1982. We had bonded in the worst of circumstances. CC was my closest companion as I dragged along my bottom through the gates of Hell. Deep down I hated to see him leave as he helped me get through tough times, always on my side, ready to help me if he could. In a way he provided me with security. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew with a humor that at times shined on the absurdity of problems I had taken too seriously. His charisma allowed him to offer light-hearted criticism when, for instance, he’d ask why I was ignoring solutions that were in plain sight. He was one of the few people who took the time to know me and shared a view of his life that was often sad especially the custody battle that ate at him.
Our alcoholism formed a connection that allowed us to venture into feelings, secrets and the forces that influenced our personalities. CC and, my wife, Rachael were not good friends. When she abused my love or got on my ass CC stood up against her in an effort to protect me from bullshit while reminding her to appreciate me. I mentally thanked him but those skirmishes forced me to choose sides.
The priorities I found on the bottom of life were not about conventional love but Rachael always came first even though she was not always my first choice. We had been married for a dozen years and she was the mother of our two kids. But this was the beginning of the end of our rocky marriage – a feeling CC sensed or maybe he knew about secrets that were not in my best interest.
Before I left my four year bottom, Carl’s confession that he had scored coke for Rachael and my neighbor caused my over-active imagination to wonder about situations I didn’t understand. Was I so far gone that my wife had a life without me? Was I so preoccupied with my addictions and job pressure that I couldn’t see the forest through the trees? It was possible that using lists to micromanage my life kept my head in the sand or that daily living overwhelmed me to the point that I pushed away things that further complicated my life.
There was a certain baby boomer dysfunction that went with the lifestyle created by two parents living together in a relationship rooted in alcohol and drugs. I was familiar with this family dynamic as I witnessed it in many other couples but assumed we were exempt.
CC left in spring 1982 to marry a woman he met while traveling on business, so we parted after spending three years beneath the fabric of society. We buoyed each other’s struggle to tread water in the chaotic world of self-destruction. “You’ve been the best friend I have ever had,” CC told me the day he left. It was as though he could feel my pain, knowing my life would continue to get worse. He knew we’d die alone and wondered how long we could keep swimming against the tide.
To most, his alcoholism was his identity but to me he was a lost soul who was attracted to my lonely life sharing the little he had to join my lifestyle. At times we were the family he yearned for, just a meat and potatoes household in a middleclass neighborhood.
In the mirror I was noticeably aging from a steady diet of alcohol and drugs. My disappointments and failures isolated me from people and trapped me in a manner of living that was routinely self-destructive. The hopes and dreams I had earlier in life had turned to frown lines from decades of worry, confusion and struggle. I saw sadness in my face and could not stare myself in the eye.
Next: A flight out of hell and off to Singapore. Nobody could steal Shangri-La but it was time for a life change.
The articles published here by babyboomers.com are small excerpts of a 268 page manuscript titled “The Courage to Surrender” that I would like published. Call 678.361.4709 for information on the manuscript.