Life's never a postcard of life, is it?
It never feels like how you'd want it to look.
~ Russell Brand
Russell Brand hadn't been a celebrity I gave much of my time (or money) to. There was something about his schtick that didn't work for me. Boomer and I shared this mutual feeling, chatting about it whenever we'd catch Russell on TV. Today, I did a 180-degree flip on and in-favor of Russell Brand.
Something Boomer told me through the years that he found so interesting about me was my depth of understanding and ongoing curiosity of the human condition. No one knew better how much I understood....understood him. What brought him joy, what brought him sorrow, and the underlying roots of both. They were deep. They were dense. And even today I continue to expand that understanding of my beloved Boomer with even more love and compassion I thought existed. Thanks in great part to my own recovery work as a family member and friend of an alcoholic - - make that two alcoholics (read Reality and One of Us).
So when my loving friend Barbara sent me an amazing email this morning expressing her ongoing support and new understanding of what my life, our life, had undergone by way of the saucy Brit's own blog post two days ago, I was moved to tears. Brand writes of his 10 years of sobriety from his addictions to drugs and alcohol, which never would have happened without his recovery program. He's heartfelt, frank, and scared, like I am, for all those who suffer from the disease (including family and friends too) of addiction without recovery. Without recovery there is no hope.
Boomer didn't have recovery. Not once. The closest attempt he made was to attend a meditation class at his church - - which was only in the last year. He went maybe six times. His demons barred down on him so hard during the 90-minute sessions, he had to sneak into the garage before entering the house to drink up and numb his pain. It was awful. The absence of recovery to an addiction, is like fertilizer to grass. Without recovery, the holes in his heart (like those Brand speaks of) only grew to uncontrollable proportions until the disease kicked his ass. Just like weeds taking over the lawn.
Living with an alcoholic is an eggshell existence with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the helm (read: Florida). You never know who you're going get on any given day, hour, maybe moment. Brand speaks of it with perfection, because he's been there. He's played this role -- in real-life. He knows many who still do. It's sad to witness first-hand. Geez, that's such an understatement. As a loved one, your heart is breaking, dreams slipping away while you watch the person you love, planned to spend your life with, self-destruct, slowly dying right before your eyes. You're completely powerless and helpless, just as the alcoholic is, except only to be honest with yourself and with the addict. For family members or friends that's a task most want no part of (read: Maya). Without recovery, they'll never get there. They'll never have peace, understanding, forgiveness, compassion, healing...with themselves or the alcoholic.
It's also been through my recovery of being affected by and living with the disease of alcoholism that Boomer has shown me spiritually postmortem what he couldn't do when was alive. The stash of empty half-gallon bottles of vodka, wine, more vodka and the electrolyte sports-drink used as his mixer. Stashes of smaller empty bottles tucked in jacket pockets. Hard liquor mixed with a sports-drink is the ideal cocktail for an alcoholic - - it hits the bloodstream faster because of the electrolytes, so the numbing can occur sooner. How do I know this? A 20-year recovering alcoholic told me; its textbook. The most devastating discovery Boomer guided me to was the mound of receipts that painted the complete picture - - capturing his buying and drinking trail: date, time, frequency and volume. Did I mention the mouthwash? Boomer was consuming so much vodka, the stuff that supposedly has no aroma, that he reeked - - all the time. Oh, how he resented every time I asked if he'd been drinking, because he couldn't hide the stench oozing from his pores anymore. His physical dependency of alcohol had grown to the point that he began drinking mouthwash, with the highest alcohol content at 28%, in desperate substitution effort to hide the smell and pretend he wasn't drinking in the house.
What's astonishing and comforting is how Boomer immediately upon passing guided me to another level of peace by showing me what he was up to within 3 days after he died. He was clever how he did it too. It started with a wake-up at 3:30 a.m. on Friday morning to go out to the garage and take out the trash. Innocent enough, right? "Wait, before you do that SMO, look in the plastic tub in the back of the garage.", is what I heard. I walked over, "now take off the lid," came next. When obliged, I heard, "lift that fleece shirt." There it was - - the first discovery of 6 empty bottles with a stench so foul it was if something was decomposing in the tub. All I heard after that was, "Now put the lid back on it, put the tub in the garbage dumpster and take it all to the curb." There were two more similar episodes like that the following two days. Then is was over.
We were clean. He came clean with me, the one who knew, who understood, who never left his side. My recovery provided that. We both benefited from my recovery as the spouse of an active alcoholic. I couldn't save him, but I could have abiding, sustaining love for this wonderful man, who just happened to be terribly sick. Even though I lost Boomer, its also through my recovery how Boomer always appears healthy and clean whenever I dream about him. We are good.
|Boomer & SMO, 2011|
I bow to you Russel Brand. Thank you for your courageous straight-forward writing. I am now a fan. And I commit to continuing recovery and to do good work to help family and friends of alcoholics.