It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Hate is a terrible thing to unleash on the world of people around us, but it is worse when you hate yourself. Lies are terrible things to say too, especially when you say them to yourself. I have been reading about hate and lies and recognise, all too well, that I have allowed them to dominate my thinking. And there are a lot of us out there, throwing blame and accusations at our friends, co-workers, and family. The key is to learn about yourself and begin to admit and take responsibility for what is true.
The truth is that from the time I can remember my mother was a drunk, a happy drunk most of the time, and my father wasn't. It was not unusual to find bottles of beer hidden around the house. When I was five or six I remember coming home for lunch from school and being packed off to the corner store with a note for the grocer and my red wagon. I would hand over the note, he would load up my wagon with a case of 24 Molson Exports and a couple of packs of smokes. Most nights my parents fought over my mother's excessive drinking. Eventually it got to be too much and my sisters, my brother and me were packed off to foster homes.
The funny thing was my foster parents drank more than my own family and considered us a nuisance. Without going into details; the next four years were a nightmare. We were visited by a Social Worker once a month and I would tell her about the abuse, but she didn't believe me. When I was 11 we were given back to my mother, now divorced from my father (he visited twice in the four years we were wards) and introduced to 'Uncle Mac'. Strangely I remembered him from years earlier. That was when my mother crawled out the living room window with a suitcase and across the street was this man yelling at my father to come outside. The man was holding a two by four.
Anyhow, time passed and we moved to Toronto. I was twelve. We lived in a fairly nice place and I started high school. That was when I started to drink. I found I could tolerate school drunk or stoned and mostly kept to myself and read. One day I was called into the guidance counselor's office and was introduced to a psychologist because one teacher realised I was pissed every day. The psychologist, a woman, set up a tape recorder and asked me some questions and I quite happily spilled out my story... I never heard from her again. When alcohol wasn't available I acquired hash and pot. My locker-partner was a dealer and when he couldn't be there I was designated a sort of sales clerk and was paid off in dope.
At sixteen I was kicked out of school and out of the house. I lived with a guy I knew, worked in a warehouse and spent my off-hours drinking. Life was good. When my friend was transferred out of town I came home again and on my 17th birthday Uncle Mac drove me down to the recruiting office and I spent the next few years in the Armed Forces. The army was kind of fun... especially happy-hour from 4 until 6pm when a beer or a shot cost 25 cents. I woke up most times on the floor so I wouldn't have to make my bed in the morning. A few times I woke up in the Mess Hall toilet stall with my pants around my ankles. There were a few tense moments in the forces but I won't bore you with the details.
From time to time since then I have stopped drinking and dakking, but occasionally something triggers off an episode. The death of my Brother-in-Law, Bo, rocked me to the bottoms of my feet. The after effects has resonated inside my head and that of my family since then. I tried to lose myself in work and bad relationships but it was no use. One day I found I had spent a whole day at work staring at the computer log-in.
Diagnosed as depression, I have been taking a strange mix of anti-depressants that don't make me feel any better, so I went back to my old friend, booze. Recently, I suffered withdrawals for the first time. A full-blown case of the shakes... hallucinations... and nightmares.
I have travelled this path long enough. I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and that I am still alive for a reason. But first I need to dig deep, clean up the carnage that has cluttered and ruined past relationships and opportunities. Detox is no longer an option, it is a necessity; followed by 20 weeks in a rehab centre. I am on a waiting list, and still drinking but at least now - after 51 years - forty of them spent drunk and stoned most of the time, I know I have a problem. Let's hope I have enough time left to try and make some amends, be a good father and husband, and be of some worth to this world.

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