Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (or more likely, Hell’s Gate)

I made it through my life without ever having the flu until 2008. What a horrible illness that is. High fever. No energy. No appetite. Sore throat. Runny nose. You pretty much feel like Jabba the Hutt looks when you have the flu.

I went to the doctor on a Thursday afternoon. The initial flu test came back negative, so the doctor diagnosed me with sinusitis, I think. He prescribed me an antibiotic and some Clarinex.

The Clarinex wasn’t really helping my symptoms. In fact, it made me feel even worse, though in my foggy state of mind it didn’t occur to me to stop taking it. Instead, I called the pharmacist the next day (Friday) and asked if it would be okay to take some Advil Cold and Sinus since I know my body responds well to that medicine. The pharmacist knew I was taking Clarinex, obviously, because he filled the prescription. Plus, I told him so.

Big mistake, Indy!

The next thing I know my body is on fire. I took my temperature and it was almost 104 degrees. My throat and face began to swell. My breathing became labored. I could barely talk. I freaked the fuck out.

I first called my wife. She wasn’t working that day and was out shopping. I asked her to come home so she could take me to the emergency room. She seemed irritated by my request, but agreed to do it. After such a reassuring phone call, I didn’t feel like I was going much support from her other than a ride to the hospital, so I called my mommy.

Yeah, I’m a momma’s boy. No shame.

My mom didn’t even recognize my voice on the phone. It was cracking and squeaky. I mean, I could barely breathe. I told her what was going on and asked her if she would meet me at the hospital, and she obviously agreed.

I was dressed by the time my wife got home. She wasn’t hiding her irritation at all. On the drive to the hospital I gave in to my panic. I had never had an allergic reaction before. I didn’t have the slightest idea what was happening to me. My throat was almost completely closed and I could barely breathe or talk. With the words I did manage to get out I said some things about my children losing their father and how I wasn’t ready to leave my kids. As I said, I was panicking. Obviously.

My wife responded with annoyance. She pretty much implied that I was being stupid for thinking that I was knocking on death’s door.  She irritably, instead of reassuringly, insisted repeatedly that I wasn’t going to die, which is clearly the only appropriate way to deal with someone in a severe state of panic. Sigh…

My mom was already in the waiting room when we finally got to the hospital. The intake nurse brought me to a small examination room to take my vitals and question me. That particular nurse was a moron who didn’t even know how to use a thermometer. She took my temperature, and gave me a “bitch, please” look when it only registered a little over 100. Despite the fact that my breath was labored, my face swollen and red, and my assurance that my thermometer at home told me I was running a dangerously high fever, she didn’t think to retry taking my temperature.

I told the nurse that I had taken both Clarinex and Advil Cold and Sinus. I also told her that my pharmacist had told me it would be okay to do so since they contained different ingredients. She told me that they’re both decongestants and probably shouldn’t have been taken at the same time.

“So I can sue my pharmacist for this ER bill?” I asked her.

She stuttered and backtracked and gave me a noncommittal response. I then had to explain to her that I was joking. It’s kinda my thing.

My panic attack continued even after I had been taken back and put in a room. Nobody had done anything yet to reassure me that I was going to be fine and would live to continue making stupid jokes. While we waited for the doctor to come in and see me, my wife, who had a lot of nurse training because she worked with special needs children, grabbed a thermometer off the wall and took my temperature. It read almost 104. It was comforting to know the intake nurse couldn’t even properly use a thermometer. It really builds confidence in the rest of the staff.

They took some blood (they missed the first time) and I waited rather impatiently while they tested my blood to see what the hell was wrong with me. I remember a tear escaping my eyes while I waited and I felt it burn its way down my cheek.

I’m not sure how long we waited for the doctor to return with the results of the blood test, but by the time he had my temperature and swelling had gone down. I was breathing and speaking normally again and had a manageable fever of about 100. The blood tests came back normal (because allergic reaction – duh). They gave me some motrin and sent me home.

I have no idea if I nearly died that day, but I know for a while I feared I would. Having an anxiety attack on top of an allergic reaction on top of the flu is the perfect recipe for a visit to the ER best described as a clusterfuck. Of course, I didn’t know I had the flu until the following Monday, when the doctor called me and said that the culture they left over the weekend tested positive. At least, I think that’s how he explained it.

I’m not sure if it was the Clarinex (which made me feel weird both times I had taken it to that point) or the combination of the Clarinex, Advil, and the flu that put me in the hospital that day, but since then I’ve told every doctor and pharmacist I’ve seen that I’m allergic to Clarinex. That is an experience I don’t wish to repeat.

This has been a

Finish the Sentence Friday

post, where writers and bloggers link up with
relevant posts. This week’s sentence
is “I thought I might die when…”

The Good Old Days

There’s a time in each of our lives we look back upon often. We remember those times as the happiest of our lives. We reminisce about all the good times we had while vaguely recalling anything bad that may have happened.

The good ol’ days.

Those days for me are my freshman and sophomore years in high school. I had attended two different schools in 6th grade, and then again in 8th grade. Entering my freshman year of high school, I was determined not to make any friends because I knew we would just move again and I would lose them all. I became good at alienating people.

Halfway through my freshman year a new kid showed up in class. His name was Lee and we hit it off immediately. As a bonus, he lived with his grandparents about a mile away from our house which, out in the country, is practically right next door.

For the next year and a half life was great. Mostly. There were tiffs with my dad. Typical teenage rebelliousness, but I ended up making a lot of friends my sophomore year, when I first began to believe that maybe we wouldn’t move again. I fell in love for the first time my sophomore year. I learned how to drive. I liked my teachers – even the history teacher who scolded us because our “inbred” parents failed to pass a school levy. I skipped school for the first time ever. I had a shop teacher who was missing fingers.

We had an in-ground pool and a 3-acre yard. Many good times were had in the couple of years we lived in that house. Swimming day and night. Hide and seek in the dark. Playing baseball, football, soccer, or golf out in our huge yard. Running for my life when a farmer chased me off his land wielding a shotgun. 

This is a surprisingly accurate depiction of that farmer, except he was older and had gray hair.

I’ve had many dreams take place in the house we lived in there, which leads me to believe my subconscious agrees that those years are the good ol’ days. Last year I counted all of the residences I’ve had throughout my life and I think I came up with 27. Out of those 27 that house is the only one which I dream about.

When I left that house a downward spiral of one hardship to the next began. I went from living in that house to a disheveled, cock-roach infested trailer. I had a step-father who paid the bills by stealing. I attended three more schools during my junior and senior years.  Not long after high school I was emotionally blackmailed into a marriage I wanted no part of. Then I got divorced, remarried, and divorced again. It’s really no wonder why I look back at my first couple of years in high school as the good ol’ days. I had no responsibility. No worries. I had a shitload of friends, and, though I’d already had some tough times life hadn’t yet beaten all hope out of me.

Those days out in the country were the good ol’ days. Carefree and fun.

Post inspired by today’s Daily Prompt

My Father’s Best Advice

Over my 37 years on this spinning ball of ignorance my father has given me great advice. Stop calling your brother stupid. Get your elbows off the table. Don’t use your shirt, use a napkin! Blow your nose because if you snort one more time I’m going to hurt you! You’re grounded! Again! That last may not have actually been advice.

A bottomless well of knowledge, my father is.

I’m great at giving advice, but not so much at taking it. I don’t like being told what to do, even in the form of advice. Consequently, any time I’ve gotten advice from my father I accept it gracefully (mostly) and then ignore it. Like any good son does.

I’ve been trying to narrow down the best piece of advice my father has ever given me. I’ve culled my list to two, but I think that’s as far as I can take it. So, I’ll simply share two great pieces of advice my father has shared with me repeatedly, but I’ve many a time rolled my eyes at because, well, I don’t really know why.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Like any normal child (or abnormal, for that matter), I lied to my parents. I denied committing misdeeds. I told them I would do things I had no intention of doing. When I was in trouble, I swore I would never do it again. I said I would be home by curfew. I said I would try harder at school. I lied a lot.

Whenever I was caught in one of these predicaments, my father would always say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Of course, my stubborn teenage self shrugged, rolled my eyes, and said, “Yeah, whatever,” but he was right. Actions do speak louder than words and it’s a lesson I have finally come to learn through many trials and errors.

For most of my life, I didn’t listen to the actions of others. I listened to their words. In fact, I often paid no attention to the actions of others and took words at face value. That has gotten me into some very tough situations, but after having been burned many times I’m finally paying attention to more than the words falling out of people’s mouths.

For instance, earlier this year I agreed to give Superbitch (my ex-wife – again, her chosen moniker – I didn’t make that up) another chance. She said all the right things. She had changed, she said. She knew what she wanted. She loved me. She had settled down. She now preferred to stay at home instead of going out all the time. She said all the right things.

I gave her her chance, but I was wary of her. She had told me all these things before. The first couple of weeks were great. Then I had a depressive episode.

Many of you know that depression makes you sad for no reason at all. Everything in the world can be going right for you, but depression rears its ugly head and says, “Be sad, motherfucker!” and you’re sad. There is no rhyme or reason to this madness.

Superbitch thought I was mad at her despite my repeated assurances otherwise. From that point on, her interest in our relationship did not exist. There was no affection. There was no interest in spending time with me. She started going out with her friends frequently again. When I brought these things to her attention she assured me that she still wanted us to work, but her actions told me otherwise.

This time, instead of listening to her words I listened to her actions, which didn’t change even after having a second talk with her about my concerns. So I made the decision to part ways with her, and haven’t looked back.

See, Dad? I finally took your advice…years afterward. Better late than never, amiright? RIGHT???

Be Sure BRAIN is Engaged Before Putting MOUTH In GEAR

Dad used to have a sign in his office at work that said this, or something similar to it. He took every opportunity he could to recite that phrase to me, because I often said stupid shit. This is another piece of advice I wouldn’t take to heart for almost 20 years.

When Superbitch initially left me in August of 2012, I was a clusterfuck of emotions. I was sad, lonely, depressed, bitter, angry, and drunk. In my rage I said many uncouth things to my future ex-wife. Horrid things I can’t take back, but wish I could. I called her unsavory names and wished ill things upon her. I meant none of those things, really, but was simply lashing out because I was in pain.

Superbitch handled it with grace, mostly. Instead of flinging hatred back at me she asked me to stop. She told me I was hurting her. And finally, she pointed out that I was behaving like my first wife, and that’s when the gravity of what I was doing hit me like a kick in the groin.

She was right. My goal was to get her to come home and I was never going to accomplish that by hurling demeaning epithets and telling her I hoped awful things befell her. So I stopped. When I was upset I forced myself to really think about what I was going to say before I said it. And wouldn’t you know it a funny thing happened. We actually had productive dialogue. Weird, eh?

I made it a point from that moment on to really consider the consequences of any words I speak before I utter them. That sticks and stones nonsense is bullshit. Words can hurt. Especially when hateful, bitter words are hurled by people you love.

My father is an extremely intelligent man and knows what he’s talking about. Just don’t tell him I said so. Despite our past differences he’s given me great advice over the years, most of which I disregarded because I seem to have an innate preference for learning things the hard way. People share their experiences with me. They give me their advice. Until I experience something firsthand, however, it just doesn’t seem to sink in. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, so I attribute this to severe stubbornness.

But hey, at least I learn eventually, right?

Finish the Sentence Friday

River of Doubt

There is one poem I’ve written that sticks out in my mind as my favorite. It is a poem I wrote nearly 8 years ago.

I had just left the twins’ mother. I was living with my brother in an apartment complex literally right next door to the home my wife and I had shared. On a daily basis I drove by that home and I wondered: How are the twins? Are they okay? How is my decision affecting them? Will they understand? Have I fucked up their lives? Should I go back home?

The guilt of what I had done to my children overwhelmed me at times. In my mind I know that staying in a marriage solely for the sake of your children is ultimately not a good decision. I was miserable with their mother. I was mistreated and abused emotionally, verbally, and, on occasion, physically. I struggled – weighing my need to be away from her with my need to be in their lives at every waking moment. It was the first time I’d really doubted a major decision I had made.

I wrote the poem below as a means to release my struggles. To get my demons out of my head and trap them on paper. I think it helped, to a certain extent. After I finished the poem and reread it I realized I actually liked it. It was the first time I had written something I was actually proud of. It was the first time I thought, “Hey, I might be okay at this writing thing.” I posted it to my MySpace blog (hey, it was 2006) and it was well-received there.

For those reasons, this poem is, and probably always will be, my favorite of all the poetry I’ve ever written. I hope you like it as much as I do.

River of Doubt

Nothing’s constant throughout life
Changes come, causing strife
So sure ‘til now of choices made
Doubts creep up, then pervade
My mind at times when I’m not ready
Keeping my thoughts random, unsteady
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder
Did I choose right or did I blunder?
From what depths do these doubts arise?
Do they seek to create my demise?
To ensnare my consciousness, paralyze my mind?
How do I lose this, how can I find
A way to let my confidence thrive?
So I can move on, so I can survive
Without being plagued, without being hampered
With needless worries that lately have tampered
With my life, with my happiness
And violently raised my level of stress
I’m slowly succumbing to a river of doubt
Wandering, desperate to find a way out
Please let it end for the sake of my sanity
And return to me the wisdom and clarity
I held once before these times of confusion
Before I felt the need for seclusion
Hopefully in time this too will alter
Or in the life I’ll certainly falter

*This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.

It’s the End of the Summer

This is my first attempt at FTSF (Finish the Sentence Friday), hosted by the amazing Kristi from Finding Ninee. If ever you are looking for a new blog hop to participate in, I suggest this one. This week’s prompt is: At the end of each summer, I always feel…

At the end of each summer, I always feel…a tumultuous array of conflicting emotions. There are both pros and cons to this time of year, and I feel them simultaneously.

There are many things I love about the end of summer. First and foremost is the cooling of the weather. I dread summer heat. I loathe summer heat. I melt in summer heat. I hate being hot. I absolutely HATE sweating. This Michigan-born trooper prefers milder temperatures. A cloudy summer day is always welcome for the brief respite it brings from the oppressive sun.

Who doesn’t love fresh applesauce?

The coming of fall brings with it other things I look forward to, however. I absolutely love the changing of the colors. Orange, red, and brown leaves add so much more variety to the local scenery. It makes driving down the highway much more enjoyable when everything isn’t plain ol’ green. Autumn also marks the beginning of football season, and this trooper surely enjoys watching some football.

bengals stormtrooper
Who dey!

With the good comes the…kinda good. School. Back to school is both a good thing and a bad thing. There’s back-to-school shopping. New clothes. New shoes. School supplies. Homework. Forms to fill out. Getting your kids back into a routine. Fuck is it ever a pain in the ass. On the flip side, the kids aren’t home all day destroying the house and consuming every scrap of food that’s yet to expire. I no longer come home from work to find empty wrappers strewn about and both of them staring at different TV’s with Xbox controllers in their hands. So there’s that.

Back to school this year was particularly rough because the twins began high school this year. Shit is real now. From here on out their actions can and will affect them for the rest of their lives. The twins are extremely intelligent, but also equally unorganized. They lose or forget to turn in homework and that’s just not gonna fly in high school. They also made the freshman football team. While I love football, I’d have preferred they play a different sport. They have always been skinny and easily injured, two things that don’t bode well for any football player. The upside to that is they have motivation to keep their grades up since they’ll get kicked off the team if their GPA dips too low. So I’m taking the good with the bad here…and have my fingers crossed that neither of them suffer their first broke bones.

Most importantly, the end of summer is a segue to my favorite time of year. November and December, and the holiday’s therein, are times when lasting memories are made. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s. SNOW! Jackets. Hoodies. Chileh! SNOW! Wait, I might have mentioned snow already. Baby C loves playing in the snow and I love watching him do so.

How do I feel? Good riddance, summer! Hasta lasagna, don’t get any on ya! Fall and winter is where it’s at.

Finish the Sentence Friday

Journal Entry: September 3, 2514

Journal Entry: September 3, 2514

Exciting news! The Ohio Valley has recently been deemed safe from harmful radiation leftover from the Great Nuclear Holocaust of the early 21st century. We’ve finally been granted permission from the UN to begin sifting through the remains of the once thriving metropolis of Cincinnati.

Image via

My team and I decided to begin at the far south of the tri-state area and work our way north. We began at what used to be the intersection of I-75 and I-275 loop. The suburban sprawl surrounding the crisscrossing freeways appears to have been a mix of restaurants, businesses, and homes. I began with the remains of a community of townhouses just east of the junction, which is located approximately 20 miles south of the GE plant which took the brunt of the attack.

One particular home stuck out to me. There was one home completely inundated with Star Wars paraphernalia. I discovered many frames with the charred remains of what were once Star Wars posters, completed Star Wars puzzles, and autographed Star Wars art. There were dozens of die-cast replicas from the famed movie franchise. The replicas looked to be in good condition other than the paint being completely scorched by the intense radiation of the blast. No doubt these trinkets will fetch a hefty sum of currency once they’ve been cleaned up and the gunk carefully removed. The skeletal remains of a handful of plastic toys sat perched upon a mountain of soot, like they had been doused in fuel and ignited. The emaciated remains of two bookshelves held the ashes of what must have been over a hundred books. I hypothesize those shelves held nothing but Star Wars books, as what discernible remains I could find were those of Star Wars books.

There were carbonized remains of destroyed electronics throughout the home. There must have been a computer and/or television in every room of the house! That fits with the descriptions we have of nerds in the 21st century. That, and the Star Wars obsession. From what I can gather, this archaic equipment was all networked together somehow to facilitate the sharing of information. I find it fascinating how different life was nearly 500 years ago. It appears everyone had their own private networks and could lock them away behind firewalls, preventing others from accessing their data. Trying that in today’s society would earn you a lifetime prison sentence, obviously.

What really struck me about this particular townhouse, however, were the sheer amount of photos littered about the rubble. Every wall in this home must have been adorned with pictures. Actual physical photographs. Intact pieces of glass were seized inside the disfigured remains of wooden and plastic frames. Most of the salvageable photos were those of children. There were pictures of a set of blond twin boys in various stages of childhood, along with those of a toddler with reddish-brown hair. And stormtroopers. Pictures of stormtroopers everywhere. Someone had an unhealthy obsession with stormtroopers.

I plan on revisiting this home tomorrow for further study. I was quite perplexed by the facilities in these townhouses. It appears there was a network of piping underneath these “civilized” areas which pumped water into these homes. And waste out of them. It’s hard to fathom such barbaric sanitary methods when we take for granted the moisture vaporators (which, ironically, had their roots and ideology in the very first Star Wars motion picture) which are standard in our homes today. Also, it looks like electricity was supplied through a similar structure of wired networks. This is all fascinating, really.

I can’t wait to see what I discover tomorrow!

Inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.

Ten Things of Thankful #63

It’s been some time since I’ve written a TToT post. It’s been even longer since I had anything to really be thankful for. I do, however, have some things to appreciate this week, so I’ll get right to it.

  1. I haven’t had a drink in 17 days. Coincidentally (or not) I’ve been feeling better physically and mentally. I haven’t really been depressed at all. My mind still wanders to some of the shitty things that have happened to me, but unlike before it isn’t a jump off the high dive like it has been recently. I still have trouble getting to sleep at night, though. I just can’t shut my mind off. One thing at a time I guess.
  2. I bought a computer on Ebay like three weeks ago. The computer seemed to be working upon receipt, but I was running into problems when I tried to play a game. The machine would black screen. At first I thought the video card was bad so the guy I bought the computer from sent me a new one. I swapped it out, but that didn’t resolve it. I then figured out it was the processor when a coworker lent me an old processor he had lying around (which happened to be compatible with my board). It took two weeks, but I finally got a replacement processor Tuesday night, and my computer has been running like a champ ever since.
  3. The War on Diapers has been going good so far. We’ve had a few accidents, but overall Baby C is making it to the bathroom to pee. A handful of times he’s gone in there without even telling me until he was finished. There have been casualties, though. He’s already soaked 4 pairs of underwear, the carpet, and the couch. Still, it’s going well, overall.
  4. I seem to have found my groove again on this blog thing. I published at least one post every day this week, excluding the weekend (because weekend).
  5. Along with the end of drinking on a regular basis, I have also decided to take myself off of Prozac. I don’t think it’s quite doing it’s job anymore. I’m often extremely emotional when certain things happen, which was entirely out of character before I started taking it. Plus, I figure if I need an adjustment I may as well go done rather than up and see what happens. So far I’ve been a tad irritable, but that could be because I’m chasing C around the house to make sure he’s not peeing on everything…and failing.
  6. Lizzi wrote an AMAZING poem with incredibly creative formatting and then said that I was the inspiration for her incredible formatting. That made me all warm and fuzzy inside. Inspiring someone who inspires me is…inspiring.
  7. My sister-in-law started a new job this week, which is great because they are struggling financially.
  8. I am thankful for the four-day weekend I just started.
  9. Coffeh. I can never ben thankful enough for coffeh. I’m like a diesel truck and coffeh is my fuel.
  10. I’m thankful that I’m publicly blogging again, and back in the TToT link up.
What are YOU thankful for?


Why I Like Back to School (It has nothing to do with the kids)

When I was a child, I hated fall. Mostly because it meant going back to school. It meant an end to the carefree days of doing whatever the hell I wanted. An end to staying up as late as I wanted and sleeping in as late as I could. No more frolicking in the woods climbing trees or playing baseball in the backyard. No more all-nighters playing Tecmo Bowl on the Nintendo. No more running through the custom-built sprinkler my dad made for us from spare PVC pipes he had lying around in his workshop. No more fun.

Gameplay of Tecmo Super Bowl
Best. Football game. Ever. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hated school because it bored me. I’m impatient. Explain something to me once and normally I’ve got a handle on it. Droning on about the same thing for 50 minutes drove me bonkers. Having to go home and continue to do schoolwork maddened me. When I got home from school I wanted to fly out through our back door and play. Toss the baseball. Kick the soccer ball. Ride my bike. Shoot some hoops. Play on the leviathan mountain of dirt that the builders had amassed from digging holes in which to build new houses. I wanted to be a freakin’ kid.

Were it not for homework, I’d have been a straight A student. My proclivity for eschewing homework earned me some very shameful grades in school. I had no problem doing schoolwork…at school. Once I was home, however…fuck that. To be quite honest, I still feel the same way. Kids don’t have enough time to be kids. Learning is important, I know, but so is having time to play and let your imagination run wild.


These days I look forward to the start of school. It has nothing to do with getting the kids out of my house. I work so I’m not stuck at home with them all day. I look forward to it more because of the season. As I’ve grown older my feelings towards summer have changed. I loathe heat. I hate to sweat. I have allergies. I hate allergies. Spring and summer are the worst seasons for allergies. Autumn is when all those allergenic plants begin to go back into hibernation. The weather cools, meaning I can start eating warm weather food again. Hot chocolate. Chileh! And, most importantly, football is back. NCAA. NFL. Touchdowns. Big hits. Diving catches. Broken tackles. Ankle-breaking juke moves. Football is the one sport I still love to watch.

Going back to school still brings some headaches, though. I no longer attend school, obviously, but my children do (again, obviously). That means clothes shopping. New shoes. School supplies. Filling out an entire tree’s worth of paperwork with information the school already fucking has. The evening after their first day of school my right hand is useless by the end of the night (I hear you snickering, you sick bastards…it’s not because of that). I have twins so I’m filling out packets and packets of information in duplicate. I type everything these days so when I have to actually write (with a pen! how archaic!) my hand cramps up something fierce.

Back to school? I love it. Just not for the reasons most parents do. Bring on the cold weather.

Post inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.

Query: Do you like back to school, meatbag?

Sinking Stones

After I wrote last night’s post, I clicked on the playlist YouTube suggested for the song. After Words As Weapons finished playing, This Is The Time (by Nothing More) came on. I had never heard of the band or the song, but I was immediately captivated by it. The energy. The intensity. The lyrics. The powerful imagery of the video. I’ve probably listened to the song 20 times already.

When today’s Daily Prompt popped in my mailbox (‘ello, mate), and asked for me to write a post using the first line of the last song I had heard, well…that just gave me another excuse to listen to this song again. So thank you for that, DP. Challenge accepted.

When did we become
These sinking stones
Soulless piles
Of flesh and bones

Tossed to the water
Skipping along
I come to a halt
Everything’s wrong

I break the plane
Plunge quickly below
Darker and colder
My death to bestow

The pressure is rising
While slowly I sink
I face the depths below
With nary a blink

Absolute darkness
Watery grave
Eternally damned
Can I be saved?

My Medicine

[Editor’s Note: I’ve actually been contemplating writing a post about this for quite some time and when I saw today’s prompt, I figured now is as good a time as any.  What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?]

My relationship with alcohol had always been a casual one…up until a couple of years ago. I drank socially. I’d gather with friends, whether it would be at a bar, a club, or at someone’s house. Drinks would be consumed. Shenanigans had. Memories created. Then it would be another few months before I consumed an alcoholic beverage again.

Two years ago my wife left me. My life spiraled out of control. I was, emotionally, at the lowest point of my life. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. If I tried to eat I became nauseous. I could only keep down liquids, so my diet consisted of coffee, chocolate milk, and alcohol. I turned to alcohol because it was the only way to purge my mind of the clusterfuck of thoughts constantly rampaging through my head.

Why did she leave me?

Who is she with?

Who is she fucking?

How can I get her back?

When I was drunk I didn’t care.

After a couple weeks of this I finally made an appointment with my doctor and he put me on prozac. It took a few days, but I was eventually able to cope without turning to alcohol. It also helped that I was little by little changing my wife’s mind. After a two month separation, we got back together.

In February of 2013 she decided again that she no longer wanted to be married to me. Even though I was on prozac, I still had a bit of trouble handling it. I handled it much better than I did 6 months prior, but I still turned to alcohol to quiet my mind. From then until now, the majority of the days I haven’t had my children I’ve been drunk. It became habitual. There was always some drama happening in my life I didn’t want to face. Whether is was my divorce, problems with women, depression’s demons, or simply missing my children when they weren’t there, I didn’t want to deal with it. I was all drama’d out. I wanted to be, as Pink Floyd would say, comfortably numb.

I was tired of the bullshit. I was tired of feeling like a failure. I was just tired of all the negativity that I somehow seem to gather without even trying.

My drink of choice has always been Southern Comfort. When I was 17 years old my stepfather’s friend came over one night with a super-sized cup of spiked Coke. We got to talking and he told me what he was drinking: SoCo and Coke. He let me try it and holy shit was it good.

Sure, I’ve cheated on SoCo occasionally and drank things like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Kahlua, or red-headed sluts, but SoCo has been my go to self-medication for the past 20 years. In the last couple of years, actually, my childless nightly rituals involved either Mike’s Harder Lemonade or SoCo and Coke. Mike’s Hard Lemonade isn’t the greatest tasting beverage, but it’s cheap and let’s me get drunk for 5 bucks. You can’t beat that.

Luckily for me, the frequency with which I have my children probably saved me from becoming a full-blown alcoholic. They saved me, and not a one of them is aware of this. Hell, I wasn’t aware of this until recently. I knew I was probably drinking a little too often, but I figured once or twice a week wasn’t really a problem.

Last week, though, it finally hit me that it’s becoming a problem. I had 20 bucks to my name and my gas tank was on empty. I had a very shitty day and really wanted a drink to calm myself down. With 20 bucks, though, I couldn’t get gas AND get alcohol. I had resigned myself to just being stressed out all night when I remembered that my Midas credit card can be used at Mobile/Exxon gas stations to purchase gas.

So I searched the internet to find the closest Mobile station, used the card to get gas, and used 5 bucks of my remaining cash to get enough Mike’s Harder Lemonade to make me forget about the shitty day I’d just had. Well, enough to at least make me not care about the shitty day I’d just had.

It occurred to me even while I was doing this that my behavior was just a bit pathetic. And sad. But I didn’t care. I did it anyway. I needed the escape from the pain I was feeling. I had it. I got drunk and ended up playing with the new pop gun my dad had gotten Baby C the day before, which by itself is kinda funny, but extremely sad in the larger scheme of things.

I haven’t had a drink since.

A week and half isn’t a whole lot of time to say I haven’t had a drink, but considering the frequency with which I have been drinking the past couple of years it’s something to feel good about. I’m not going to quit drinking altogether, because I enjoy feeling drunk, but I am going to try to find different ways to cope with my pain. I want alcohol to be a compliment to my good times, not a crutch for my bad ones.

My late aunt used to refer to Southern Comfort as her medicine. I turned Southern Comfort into my own medicine. It’s time to come off the medication and face the demons from which I’ve been fleeing and I think I’m finally ready to do it.