I have very few disagreements with what Bill wrote in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), yet I disagree with the promise "we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it". I do regret certain aspects of my past but I do not wish to shut the door on them, the past gives me valuable insight in how to live my life today. I don't dwell on the past, to me this is where the danger comes in, there is no use in beating myself up over past events, by doing this I would be blocking the sunlight of the Spirit who provides inter peace. Yet on Saturday I rather found myself in a position to want to shut the door, to ignore the reality of the past.
Some of you know my ex-wife committed suicide, so please bear with me as I go over this part of my story again, to help complete the picture I am trying to paint.
When I met my ex she was trying to recover from addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, not just opiates but a whole range of them. In her defense I will say she did have medical problems in which she needed some of the drugs, on occasion. I say on occasion because the problems where not consistent. During the 7 years we where together and the 11 years I knew her, she never had more than a few months of clean time. She never stopped going to AA or NA for very long though. She made 4 suicide attempts within a 2 year period of time, ranging from damn near death to half ass cries for attention. It was the first 3 attempts which contributed to the end of our marriage and me waking up to the fact I didn't really love her in the way spouses should love each other, this is my part. I married her in an innocent rush thinking well this must be what love is, only later to realize, I loved her as a dear friend and not a soul mate, she was my first serious relationship after getting sober. We shared a lot in common, love if music, nature, gardening, we were quite compatible for the most part but the intimacy and passion didn't exist once the fun of infatuation wore off for me, sex became a chore and not a pleasure.
Her 4th attempt landed her in a state run mental ward and not a nice and cozy private hospital or rehab. When she got out she went to a halfway house and seemed to have finally hit a big enough bottom to really start following recovery suggestions. My guess is she probably stayed clean a little under a year.
While at the halfway house, she met the father of a girl there, he was in recovery also. She left the house before completing the recommended time of stay and move with to a town 4 hours away from Michelle. By this time I had also relapsed, this was 1997. Over the next 2 years we made contact via the connection to Mich, both of us where lying to each other about how bad the active addiction and alcoholism was in our lives. We didn't have any bitterness toward each other, although she was resentful towards me for not helping her out financial, she was having medical problems and I wouldn't provide insurance because I change jobs and it was too expensive to get her a supplemental insurance policy. This was a judgement call on my part, my ex was a hypochondriac/addict with a habit of doctor shopping, while she was on my insurance I saw all the statements showing her doctor shopping, going to doctors 50 or more miles away, plus her by then husband wasn't working and I didn't feel it was my responsibility to provide for her any longer, even though the divorce decree said I had to for another year. My money was tied up in raising Mich and my increased use of alcohol. In hindsight this was sick and wrong of me.
The last time Mich or I saw her alive was around Christmas of 1999, her marriage was on the rocks, she was trying to get me to let her live with us, which I wouldn't or couldn't do. She was a sad shell of her old self. Reflecting back on her parting words to me, I now know what she was planning to do. February 20th 2000, a Saturday morning, I received a phone call saying she had shot herself. I think she just gave up hope and wanted the mental and physical pain to end. Mich was 8 years old. Her death was a big blow to both of us, Mich was left without a mother and I was left with a huge feeling of guilt. The guilt fueled my acceleration into alcohol hell and would continue to be an excuse for poor me drinking. I also had a resentment towards her for leaving me to raise a daughter on my own, a daughter who really need a mother as she matured. I now see how selfish all of this was, the shame and resentment.
My ex-wifes husband sent us some of her belongs a few months after her death. I have been hauling them around with me for 11 years, they have been stored in my mom's shed for the last year. With mom now moving into her apartment the time had come for Mich to sort through the stuff, throw away what she didn't want. She did this on Saturday. It was the first time either of us had spent much time reflecting back on her mother and it was a bittersweet event.
One of the first things to go over where the books, her mother thought she could get recovery from reading self help books, mostly Christian based, my ex struggled with finding a connection to God, she wanted it so bad but never could make a connection good enough for her expectations. Like a lot of people, she was expecting too much and over complicating the simplicity of spirituality, I say this because I was to over complicated spirituality. These books Mich didn't want nor the AA stuff, I will give the Christian books to some friends along with the daily mediation books, her Big Book and poetry books I will keep. My ex loved the comic strip "For Better or Worse" she had most of the bound collections, Mich kept these and a couple of other books which struck her interest. Mich kept a few of her mom's clothes, bedspread and scarves. Also a few things her mom had keep from her own past growing up. Mich didn't know much about her mothers life growing up and I tried to fill in the best I could from memory.
Mich kept the photo albums also. Here is where I was shutting the door. As Mich was pouring over the albums I was messing with Angel and doing yard work. I did help identify certain people in the photos, Mich's grandparent, her late aunt and some of the relatives I knew. My ex was from England, so there has been no real contact with her family since her death, this is our fault, laziness born out of shame has prevented us from writing her dad, who was the only living member of the immediate family, that is if he is still alive. I still have his address and feel it is time both Mich and me try and reconnect if possible, Mich agrees.
When I got home Saturday night, I realized I was shying away from the photo's because I didn't want to open the door of the past too far. There where enough memories and emotions going on inside without adding the photos to them. My ex was a big part of my 4th and 5th steps, yet there is still a mixture of shame, love and regret inside of me concerning her. On occasion I will talk about her at meetings or with friends, especially on Mothers day. Mothers day is the one day I do take to mourn her death, I use to say it was for Mich but it is really for me. They say the grieving process last a long time and it is true. I still grieve my ex-wifes death, I still think about how much of Mich's life she missed out on and how things might of been different for Mich if her mother could have rescued her from my alcoholism, if she would have cleaned up and taken control of her own life. I can't help but have some regrets over the events of the past. I didn't pull the trigger and I never did have the power to get and keep her clean but I played a part her life, some was good and some was bad. As I write this I know the part of me that wants to shut the door is the part that doesn't want to reflect back on the good times we had together, there is a fear of opening a door tears. I am slowly understanding this and now know I need to revisit the past once again. I need to do a spiritual 4th and 5th step, to sit and have tea with a ghost. It is not I that I don't think about my ex on occasion, I do but I still have some peace to make with her and with me over our life together. The Divine works in funny ways, it is spring and perfect time for reflection, my ex loved being out in nature as much as I do, she loved flowers too, time to plant another Bleeding Heart in her memory.
Although Saturday was a day of sorrow, it was also a day of joy and happiness for both of us in our different ways. Mich learned a lot about her mother she didn't know. We bonded on a subject both of us don't talk about a lot. We both needed a bit more closure on Linda's death. Linda left an imprint in our hearts, this imprint will be pasted on to Angel and Carter even though will never get to meet her in person. Linda was a very kind and loving woman but she was also a very sick addict, something which has a strong impact on Mich and me today because both of us are quite capable of being just as sick, the disease is lying dormant in both of us.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Linda Male. I hope you found the peace you where looking for and the suffering came to an end. I am no longer angry at you for taking your own life, you did what you felt was necessary. I will do what I can to honor your life by being the father and grandpa you believed in and loved so long ago when we first met and both of us where keeping clean and sober a day at a time. I loved you then and I still love you now.
Peace Love and Light
The Ghost on North Ave
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