Three years sober today, and I still can’t wrap my mind around any of it. I don’t know why some people get it and others flounder, suffer, struggle, die. I don’t want or try harder than Jack did; I just fear less. Is this something I was born with, an innate optimism that things will be easier, later, despite the long succession of crappy things that happen in my life? Jack, Jack, Jack. He lived in so much fear, a constant anxiety that things would get worse, get better, be perfect, be absolutely devastating. He bought me trinkets and jewelry, sent me a Christmas gift signed “Santa,” brought a care package with soup and a pink sweatshirt and Vitamin C tablets when he heard I had the flu, two months after I said I had to leave.
I don’t know why I get to stay sober and other people don’t. It has something to do with grace, and desperation, and I suppose just plain luck. I don’t feel the sort of anxiety some people do, though mine involves hot flashes and backaches and an undeniable urge to cry until I get a headache so bad I have to sleep. The difference — between me and Jack, at least — is that I drank because I thought it made me a better person, a freer person, a more beautiful person. He drank because it was the only thing he knew that could make him forget how scared he was — scared of getting things and of not getting them, of being successful and of failing, of finding happiness and of losing it.
If I could do things over, I would. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I’m being honest. If I knew he would die — and, really, I did know; I was just in denial — I likely would have stayed. Another three or four months? Would it really have broken me? Actually, yes. It probably would have. But it might have been worth it.
I’d also have been nicer to him. I was under the delusion that what he needed was for me to set boundaries, to give “tough love,” teach him a lesson, when being kind and compassionate would have been more than enough. But, despite my imaginary thinking, there are no would-have or could-have considerations. He’s dead. There are no do-overs.
I wish he were here. I wish he could see me and congratulate me and give me a hug and spoon me to sleep in the way he always did. I loved him the best I could. I try to love him — and his memory — better every day. I’m trying to move on, and I am, albeit slowly. But being the one who survived this war? It’s not an easy task, and some days I wish I’d been a casualty instead of having the good sense to go home when I still had all of my limbs.
It doesn’t sound like it, but it’s getting easier at the same time it gets weirder, different, heart-wrenchingly sad. I’m learning to sit in my grief, to let it pass through me instead of holding it in until it explodes and I’m left with way too much collateral damage. Yes, I keep using battle terms. Isn’t that what alcoholism is? Anyhow. I’m crying more the past few days. At first I thought I felt guilty for having three years, but what it really is is that it’s terribly heart-breaking to celebrate my sobriety when the one person I would want to share it with has been dead for eight months. It’s just another day. Life goes on. Some days I’ll be sad, and on others I’ll be happy. Today, it’s a little of both.