13 September 2020

The Apocalypse May Take a Turn For the Worse -- But I Celebrate 33 Years Sober

Photo by author taken in Berkeley a few days ago at noon.
It’s not only bad but it could get worse.

Covid-19 is alive and well and the fear is that in the coming months it could combine with the flu to cause a Twindemic. So the virus we do not have under control could join forces with the regular flu season to wreck even more havoc.

Wild fires are raging through Washington, Oregon and here in California, costing lives, destroying property, burning forests, devastating wild life and causing unhealthy air quality. This is the fifth day in a row that we’ve had to keep windows closed because of the bad air. We’re not yet into the teeth of fire season so this might only be a preview.

Trump and company continue to defile the country in ways previously thought unimaginable and it’s still not impossible for him to win re-election and if he doesn’t he may not acknowledge defeat and his supporters may take up arms.

I’ve always understood that it is darkest before the dawn but exactly how dark can it get?

My emotional state can’t handle much more of what life has been doling out to everyone these days (today marks six month since I last stood before a classroom) and I am not alone in this respect. It’s difficult to imagine carrying on if things do indeed worsen. I’m sure I will — albeit under great stress — but surely others who are not blessed — as I am — with family, good physical health and sufficient funds, will have a much more difficult time.

As I mentioned it’s been six months since I last taught live and in person. It is also another anniversary. Today marks 33 years that I’ve been clean and sober.

Miracles.

I woke up on September 13, 1987 and realized I was an addict and alcoholic. This thought had never occurred to me before. Virtually everyone — especially psychiatrists — have been skeptical about my claim. Surely there had been clues, someone had planted the idea in my head. But I know with every fiber of my being that I passed out the night before convinced I was a social drinker. I knew what an alcoholic looked like — I’d drank with them — and I did not fit the profile.

I can’t explain why I woke up that Sunday morning with such clarity about the disease I had and don’t attempt to.

It was fortuitous timing. My wife had made up her mind the previous night to end our short marriage. When I woke up, found her sleeping on the sofa and told her, “I have a problem,” she decided to give me a second chance. Then, less than two weeks later she found it she was pregnant.

I’m a lucky man. Sobriety allowed me to help raise my oldest daughter and to sire and raise another daughter. Both are grown women today and are wonderful people succeeding at life. Oh yes, I’m still married to the same perfect wife.

Like I said, I’m a lucky man.

While I’ve struggled mightily recently with depression and anxiety, I have found some activities that help enormously in combatting the blues. One is immersing myself in a good book. Right now I’m reading a novel that is destined to be among my all-time favorites — The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Of course watching a great film is an effective and fun distraction as can be a favorite TV show. Exercise helps a lot as do long walks (when air quality permits).

I close now by saying how much I miss people. I long for shopping in a crowded grocery store. I can’t wait to be among a throng of fans at a sports events. I yearn for the sights, sounds and — dare I say it — smells of the gym. I’m a misanthrope who’s missing being irritated by other humans.

Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face….(unless the gray skies get downright black and refuse to clear).

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