Well, I am having one of those days—I had a variety of dreams last night that brought back memories, which in turn, made me feel quite empty upon waking up. A song that Lila and Katie used to listen to, Somebody that I Used to Know by Goyte was on repeat in my mind. I suspect that this song was part of the score in my dream–and I still, at this point in the break-up process, can’t listen to music because every song reminds me of Katie.
I staggered to the bathroom rubbing my eyes and noticed about 8,000 ants playing follow the leader on my kitchen floor. The laundry has piled up, I need to vacuum the apartment and I began to feel guilty that Lila and I’s place isn’t spick and span…she deserves better, I thought. It made me think of the time, just a few weeks ago, when Priscilla, Lila’s mom, called to tell me that: “Lila should stay with me and Nick (step dad) more because you don’t have a family environment. I feel bad for her.” Maybe she is right?
I turned on the shower it was too hot at first, so I accidentally burned my arm. Then, the thoughts of Katie started flowing. I closed my eyes and pictured us holding hands—her and Lila sitting across from me at the dining room table. I envisioned me lying in bed at the old house, watching Katie pick out her work outfit. I thought about everything. Ninety nine days without alcohol and Katie—and at least on the Katie end, I feel like I’ve made little progress in healing. I still feel the guilt and shame from my inability to work harder to save our relationship. I suppose, in the end, I just have to cope with the fact that it wasn’t meant to be.
I turned off the shower—dried myself off, and noticed the towel needs to be washed—so I tossed it in the laundry machine. I placed my hands on the washer, gripping the appliance with all of my strength—put my head down and started crying. I became overwhelmed with emotion—and pleaded with myself to stop thinking about “what could’ve been” or “what I should’ve done/been like.” What happened can’t change—but what I can change is my perspective today.
You know what? Who gives a shit that a bunch of ants got into my garbage while I was sleeping. I’m going to clean up the floor like I did the last time. Does it really matter to Lila that the floors need to be vacuumed? Not at all—I will do it tonight before we eat dinner, or when she is out playing with friends. Why can’t I shake these thoughts about Katie? Well, you love her—and at least you can feel the love—feel the pain, as opposed to washing it away in a flood of Coors Light and red wine. Is Priscilla right that “Lila should be with them more because I don’t have a family environment?” No! That is just her way of digging salt into my healing heart and mind. I am Lila’s father—it doesn’t get much more “family” than that, Priscilla.
One hundred days ago, when I was still drinking, I remember being such a worrisome person. I would worry about losing my job, Lila getting sick, etc.—I’d worry obsessively over so many things that were out of my control. I would drown my worries in alcohol—as opposed to thinking rationally about life and looking at all of the good around me. I would hone in on the 1 percent bad, and ignore the 99 percent positive. Now that I have made the decision to abstain from alcohol, I have to learn how to deal with the little challenges of life productively, with feelings, emotions, logic and rationale. It has been a process—but also a tremendous learning and growth opportunity. Today, on the brink of 100 days, I am committing to not sweating the small stuff, like ants and dirty laundry. I am committing to healing, as productively as possible, from my relationship with Katie…each day with no contact hurts, but I can’t make someone want to call, or be with me. I know that time will heal what is broken within my heart.
I pick up Lila today at 4pm—and what I can control is the quality of time we spend together. I want to see her smile, laugh and play with her friends. I want to see her make funny faces, draw me a picture and say “yummy” when she eats her dessert. I want to see her play with her toys in the tub, dressed in her comfy pajamas and resting her head on me as I read her a book. I want to see her gently shut her eyes as I tell her a story—slowly drifting into the dream-world of a five year old. It doesn’t get much more “family” then that, right? By the end of the evening the apartment/laundry will be clean, ants swiffed and floors vacuumed…and maybe, just maybe—I will accept Katie’s absence just a little bit more.
On day 99—I feel grateful because I can feel again. I feel lucky to be spending the week with my daughter. I feel like everything is going to be ok.