I killed her.
I woke up from this terrible recurrent nightmare with a familiar pang in my chest.
I got up from the floor and the leak from the roof let the rain dance it’s evil dance upon my head as I tried to get my bearing in this clustered rundown apartment.
Bleary eyed, I went to the refrigerator for another drink, the apartment was empty, even the furniture had gone…
When people still cared, they asked me why I drank so much. Truth is, I drink to forget about who I am. What a monster I was and still am.
That’s the story I want to tell: How I started getting drunk. How being drunk got increasingly hard, and being not drunk felt impossible. In Odyssean terms, I’d wanted to be a hero, but wound up-a monster.
yes there was a time when I had a very huge smile on my face, when I was happy go lucky kid with a beautiful family. when I had a beautiful sister. oh, how beautiful was she. how happy were we. But guess what? I took that all away.
When I was 16 years old. The event that took away my smile happened and ever since then, I don’t remember living. damn! I shouldn’t be living. I don’t deserve it . But the twist is: I can’t take my own life because that’s my punishment. A well deserved one.
On the 15th of December, 1998. I got my driver’s license and I can still remember the broad grin on my face that day and I couldn’t wait to get my Father’s Mustang on the road. I was so excited, I took for naught the countless warnings my mom gave me.
I hurried Celine up to get into the car and had the radio volume high as I set out onto the road. The weather was terrible as mom had said and I could barely see, but with the amount of adrenaline pumping through my blood system, I wasn’t reasonable.
I barely made it three streets ahead before an oncoming truck smashed into the passenger side-right where Celine was seated. It was a very brief moment but I saw as her smile turned into horror. As her laughter seized. She was only ten.
Waking up in an hospital’s bed three days after was relieving until I saw my parents face and the sadness therein. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that she didn’t make it.
if only I had listen.
That event broke my family, but most of all- it broke me. I had lost a part of me that day. I had lost my smile. I had lost the only ray of sunshine in my life.
That’s when the drinking started.
To forget, I’d do anything. Anything to make me oblivious to my thoughts. Anything to make me forget reality. Anything to make me feel numb.
I found pleasure between the mouth of a bottle. I found pleasure in the tip of a cigarette. I found pleasure in the needles.
It made me forget. It made me forget her smiles even though I’d love to remember. Remembering made me realize what a monster I was to take away such bountiful joy from the earth. It made me remember how I made laughter turn to tears, how I made smiles turn to frowns.
So to forget I do what I need do.
Today feels different because even while drunk, I can still see her beautiful smile and her lovely hair. I can still hear her voice saying “Andre you got custard on your cloth, what a baby.” I can still hear her giggling as I try to punish her by ruffling her hair because I know she hates it.
And that’s when it dawned on me that she wants me to forgive myself and let go of the blame.
I wasn’t ready to forgive myself. I don’t think I deserve it. But her voice in my head kept telling me that it wasn’t my fault. That I wouldn’t have known.
And that’s when the tears came, they didn’t stop this time. They flowed on for days. My face was all blotchy and my eyes red. How did I know that? Because I shaved and took a bath after the tears stopped.
I knew something shifted in me the day the tears stopped.
I knew I had to make a change. I had to forgive myself.
I knew I had to start identifying my triggers. Those things that bring out the temptation and leads me to drinking.
I knew I had to start identifying where and when I’m most tempted. The exact place I’m at when I get the most urge to drink.
I knew I had to start identifying with who I’m most tempted and try to avoid such company.
I knew I had to identify how I feel at the peak of the urge. What exact emotions trigger my addictions.
I knew I had to plan for my triggers. Replace a drink with something else that gives the same satisfaction. I knew had to understand that my addictions were habits I needed to break. Cues I had to identify and Routines I had to change to give me the same reward. I knew I had to go out and replace that drink with good conversations. I knew i had to go out and help someone out, if forgetting is the reward i’m looking for.
I knew I had to set an accountability partner. Someone I trust and someone who wouldn’t mind taking me through the process of withdrawal. Someone who would help me change the routine when my habits start to kick in. Someone highly trustworthy.
And most of all I knew I had to commit to the process. I had to stay through in times when it’s difficult. I knew I had to be strong and commit fully to the process.
And that shift was what made me make the choice to be alive and conscious rather than impaired.
And when I did those things I found my true self.
And in finding my true self beyond wanting to forget, I was able to let go of the past and smile when I see her smile play in my head.
That’s how I found me. That’s how I got saved.