It occurred to me, in between shots, that maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my parents anymore. I mean, we all make mistakes, right? My friends and I were bar hopping in West Hollywood celebrating my 27th birthday, fun was expected and excessive drinking required. Ahhh, I still remember that old Irish Gaelic drinking song my friends sang as I chugged my beer during a command performance. The crowd cheered as I successfully finished my beer without vomiting. I wiped my chin and muttered, “Thank God I don’t have children.” My friends erupted into laughter while I held onto the bar fighting… that urge to purge. The thing is, I wasn’t trying to be funny. I really did mean what I had said. I knew that If I had a child at that stage in my life I would have surely messed them up something awful. I was now the same age my parents were when they had me, and with no disrespect to them, just as irresponsible. I now had empathy for them sure, but does that excuse their mistakes? Would that heal the pain? Four more years would pass before I could say to them, “I forgive you” and actually mean it.
I was raised in a typical American family, divorced, eccentric, alcoholic and very dysfunctional. My father an East Texas redneck and my mother a Dallas urbanite, both former hippies, managed to play house for eight years until they divorced in 1985. I stayed with my mom for the majority and had visitation with my dad every other weekend, an arrangement that seemed to work quite well. Now, I could share with you the details from my past, tell you about the events that still haunt my sleep, the violence, abuse and emotional torture. However, I choose not to. They are important yes, but inconsequential for the moment. You see, we are all connected, the details of our past may differ but our stories are still the same. You get me, nuff said. Today, I can find gratitude in my past. I remember my mother’s unconditional love and support as I leaned toward the arts instead of football. She was, and still is, my number one fan and never missed a show. My father is still one of the funniest men I know and was the furthest thing ever from a dead beat dad. He could have abandoned me like many newly divorced fathers have chosen to do, but he didn’t. I respect his integrity completely. It is important to me that you know I grew up blessedly free from any form of sexual abuse. Out of respect to my family, I want to be sure and make no implications of the contrary. I thank God regularly for sparing me this experience, when so many others were not.
I wasn’t always able to find gratitude in my parents. I blamed them for everything. “If you would have only (blank)!” or “When I was little you (blank)! I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my life had fallen apart because of them! Last year, I was at the bottom of my own personal well and could barely keep my head above the wine. I was drowning in a vat of Shiraz, and not even Lucy could stomp her way out of those sour grapes. When I entered treatment I was told that in order to stay sober, in order to live, I had to let go of my resentments. It was time to step out of the problem and into the solution! They called this solution an “Inventory”. I was to make a list of all the people I had harmed, including those who had harmed me. The purpose of this list? It assesses your accountability. Like it or not, I was about to become accountable for my own actions and the only person to blame was myself. CRAP!
TO BE CONTINUED