Since Jack died, I’ve felt a little distant from my sobriety. I broke things off with him because I knew he couldn’t stay sober as long as I was around. More importantly, I knew I couldn’t stay sober if I stayed. Maybe I wouldn’t have actually had a drink, but I surely wouldn’t have been spiritually fit. But since then — and especially since he died — I have this lingering illogical fear that as my sobriety soared, his floundered. As though it were a zero-sum game. Which I know it wasn’t, and still isn’t.
I know that even if I hadn’t walked away from Jack, he probably still would have died. I couldn’t have saved him. I don’t feel guilty that I didn’t try harder to do so. Moreso, I wish I’d have been more kind. I wish I could have seen his deep struggles more clearly. I wish I’d have been more capable of compassion. I wish he didn’t have to die before I realized how much love he needed from this world. I hope he knows — wherever he is, spirit or illusion — that I regret not being at least just a little softer in my judgments. He wasn’t trying to break my heart; he was just suffering, and proud.
But anyhow. It’s hard to be in meetings where Jack’s name is mentioned or to sit in on conversations where he’s being remembered. To some extent, his relapses served as lessons for me. I feel guilty about that, that the man I loved best and most deeply was the one who taught me how to walk away from things that crossed lines, things that didn’t fit the sober plan for my life. Which, of course, eventually meant walking away from Jack. Call it irony or coincidence or just star-crossed love… it baffles me, and it makes me sad. It makes me feel less enthusiastic about being sober. I don’t want to drink. I haven’t stopped going to meetings. I keep in touch with the people who expect to hear from me on a regular basis. But I don’t feel the same level of comfort as I did before.
I’m told this is normal. And I suppose it is, just as every other new and weird and uncomfortable thing I’ve experience in the past 31 months has been normal. I just wish it wasn’t such a melancholy sort of average.