Madman vs. The Duck
Friday 13, April 2018
Dear Who Cares,
I’m suffering from writer’s block. I’m not entirely sure of the cause, however, writing by hand (compared to typing) is a motherfucker. If not the cause, it’s certainly a contributing factor. And then there is the issue of 19 February 2016…
Seven days before that, 12 February 2016, was a Friday and it was my 25th AA “birthday.” On Friday nights, my AA home group “does cakes,“ and when it was my time at the meeting to blow out the candles, then “share,“ I just stood there in front of the rest of the alcoholics, and everyone held their breath. You see, I basically had said fuck-all in AA meetings since Zoe‘s death, just about three months prior (and seven days prior to 19 February 2016, when I wound up in Roger’s shower on the floor, fully clothed – sans boots- under the water with a fresh razor blade).
So, I blew out the 25 candles. Someone handed me my XXV chip. I stood there for 30 to 45 seconds – a long time to just be standing there saying fuck-all while 100-150 people stare at me and hold their breath. All I managed was: “I am Daniel. I’m an alcoholic. And right now I’d rather be dead than me. And I’m standing here still sober because my little girl would’ve expected that from me.” I sat back down in (basically) the same spot in (basically) the same chair I’d occupied in that meeting for the better part of 25 years.
I’m positive nobody could see it, but that 12 February 2016 moment was when everything inside of me began to implode. The core structure – My core – collapsed, and everything that was Me, my life, started falling into the hole Zoe’s death opened up. (Side note: writing this right now is making me fucking NEED a cigarette. Oh – and, there should be a moratorium on seven day-a-week Bible study in Spanish in the motherfucking day room.) So, this hollow pain or, more, this hollowing pain, like piece after piece of my insides were being slowly (deliberately) torn out, minute by minute, day after day. I could not escape it even in my sleep. It came to the point that I could not even tell if I was asleep or awake. The nightmare was constant, over and over again: the EMT’s rolling my little girl in on a gurney, intubated, doing CPR, and eight hours later when they turned off the machines and her heartbeat stopped. A looping tape – over and over and over and over…
19 February I got into the shower with no intention of ever getting out, I did get out (obviously), but very far from well. Very, very far from well. The mechanics of how I wound up getting off of that shower floor alive went something like this: I’d been alone (completely alone) since leaving the meeting after taking my 25 year cake. I hadn’t spoken to anyone at all that week. And nobody had reached out to me. It looked to me as if everyone was moving forward, away from Zoe’s death, except for me. Sometime between midnight and 4am, sitting in the small guestroom at my father-in-law‘s house, I thought (or maybe even said out loud), “Nobody can expect me to live through this pain.” I took a piece of paper and wrote “Do not come in – call the police.” And taped it to the bathroom door. I took off my boots. Took the paper protector off the new single edged razor blade. Turned on the shower. Got in and closed the door. Sat down on the floor (making sure that I was well wedged in the corner so I wouldn’t spill out). I looked through the scalloped glass at my boots sitting on the bathroom counter. I thought (or maybe even said out loud), “Why the fuck did I bother to take off my boots?” And then, “What the fuck am I doing?”
I sat for a very long time in the water. I realized that I was not crying anymore (I had been crying for a haze of hours. If my memory serves me at all, I think that I got back to Roger’s from the beach at about 3:30pm (I skipped the 5:30 AA meeting for the sixth day in a row). I shut myself in the guestroom and started crying again. At some point, sitting on the shower floor, I had stopped crying. I had stopped feeling anything. I got out of the shower, undressed, dried myself off, and put on dry clothes (that looked exactly the same as the wet ones, only drier), and waited. Sitting on the bed in that little guest room I’d been living in for two years, I waited for Starbucks open. I did not know this at the time, but I stepped out of the shower completely insane. I had already identified the fact that after Zoe‘s death, I was suffering from severe PTSD symptoms. But what had transpired in three months – and then finally the last seven days – had left me now very gravely mentally Ill.
I had broken in two.
There was a new Me. Not a split personality – I was fully oriented in time and space – however there was a completely new and separate set of emotional operating parameters (for lack of a better term – it would take another whole book to fully explain that). There was now a Me that was completely emotionally disconnected from any past. I wasn’t that I switched back and forth, it was that these two internal realities clashed – violently. They could not coexist. I was no longer “suicidal,” but half of Me was intent on killing the other half of Me. Either figuratively or literally (it didn’t fucking matter how), one of Me had to go. As that struggle escalated, I skated very far out onto thin ice before I even realized that killing one of Me was what I was doing. And by that time, I didn’t know and couldn’t tell which of Me was real and which was the interloper.
(And then, it didn’t really matter, because so much of what I based everything on, turned out to be utterly and completely false. Yes. People lie. Another story. Another whole book.)
Two years and a couple of months down the road, I can’t tell if any of it ever mattered. Maybe now I have some time to sort that out. Most of the time I think that both of these competing emotional selves have died off. And often, I feel I have more in common with my dead (forever) 17-year-old daughter. We’ve both been left in unmarked graves.
(Self-pitying, isn’t it?)
Not very long ago, someone very close to me posed the maxim “Amor vincit omnia” (Love conquers all). So maybe that means there was/is the elusive “third option” – another Me.
I hope that in a world fucking filled with lies, Amor vincit omnia is true. Otherwise, I’m just as dead as she is.