I didn’t know how I would ever live without the crutch of alcohol in my life. For over 20 years it was my companion — helping me get through everything in my life – good times and bad. The fundamental problem was that I didn’t enjoy drink any more. I simply just had to drink, because when I didn’t drink all the emotions would come up, and I simply could not face them.
When my father died, I was drinking alcoholically, and I didn’t process anything around it. I was guilty around not being home the weekend he died, because I was away enjoying myself in Dublin instead of being down in Kerry. I carried that guilt for years. It was irrelevant that I would have been able to do nothing about it even if I was at home — I still carried it, and drank on it.
When I came into recovery, I started to work with my emotions. I stopped muting them with alcohol, and started needing to work with others. The people I’ve met in AA have been a great help in this respect. They all had similar experiences to me around their own emotions. It’s an adage in AA —
The good thing about sobriety is that you get your emotions back. The bad thing about sobriety is that you get your emotions back.
This coming Valentine’s Day will be the month’s anniversary of my mother’s death. In my recovery I managed to develop my relationship with her. It was filled with many ups and downs. I introduced her to me, and while she didn’t understand the entire transgender thing, the most important thing she said to me was —
I just want you to be happy
I was able to be there with her when she died. This wasn’t simply a physical being, but I was present. This could not have happened if I was drinking. I know what state I would have been in. I was able to cry and grieve that night.
The following days were a bit of a whirlwind. There were tears, there were reminiscences, there was much sadness, there was a certain amount of anger, and there were thoughts of the old salve being brought out to mute those emotions.
The problem is that the old salve no longer works. All it’s ever done was kick the can down the road, and I know that if I have one I will likely never stop.
So I stuck with it. Felt the feelings and let them pass through me. Guess what? I didn’t die from them, and most importantly I feel better for having experienced them
I’ll be heading down the country to attend the month’s mind mass, and following it, I’ll be breaking bread with the rest of the family, and we’ll share stories of my mother and the experiences we all had with her.
One last thing — when I came back to Dublin and stood in my apartment following the funeral, I looked out the window and saw a robin looking in at me. I still believe in the old piseogs, so I hope it was her, looking in at me to see how I’m doing.