When our daughter was born, I prayed to God for two things. Number one: that she be healthy. Number two: that she be nothing like me. The first one came true. The second, not so much.
Step Six: were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
I’m not saying that I can already see the seeds of alcoholism being cultivated in my little girl, but we do seem to share the same insanity. Or she’s simply aping my poor behavior. The good news is, there’s a strong chance I’m just acting like a child.
I’m 43. She’s 7. Both prime numbers. Both indivisible. We stand alone, often to our own detriment. Watching her struggle with her emotions and not knowing where to put them hits me right in the gut. Of course I think she’s taking after me, because isn’t that what everything’s about?
What’s more likely is my sober brain is still in its infancy. It’s been decades since I attempted to resolve matters without alcohol. And, if I remember correctly, I was pretty f’d in the head before I ever took a sip. Why did I assume stopping the drink would turn me into a well-adjusted, upstanding member of society? What it did (apart from saving my life) was revert me to that troubled teen; the one who was paranoid and angry and depressed. I, too, ran to my room out of embarrassment to isolate. I still want to yell, “Leave me alone!” to this day. Of course, I don’t cry uncontrollably and hide under the covers, though I’m not sure that isn’t a better way of dealing with my feelings. My solution was to attack and retreat, attack and retreat. And if that didn’t work, I’d move on to isolate and self-hate. I don’t deserve love or good things to happen. And as a result, they didn’t.
What I’m finding helpful today (if not more than a tad unsettling), is listening to the way my wife address us both when we’re in the grip of crazymind. The message, the idea; actually, the literal words being spoken are identical. That alone speaks volumes about my sobriety and my serenity, and where I’m at in the program.
Not that I’m in competition with my daughter. I dare not count who needs the calming reassurances more; because I’m pretty sure I’d win that race. And there’s nothing I love more than winning for losing.
For today: Learn from my little girl. She’s working through emotions and situations that are totally new to her. Of course she’s going to struggle. What’s my excuse? What needs to happen is I can take what I want and leave the rest. Watch and practice the coping mechanisms that tiny humans take on daily. It’s never too late to learn.