The catalyst for my sobriety began with a pregnancy test. The poetic irony in that instant was that I – someone who was entirely incapable of showing up for my own life – became someone who must show up for another human being’s life.
I do not believe that anyone can sufficiently prepare themselves for the moment that they become a father. That being said, the capacity to accept that moment becomes tremendously more difficult when you are a 21 year old junkie. Acceptance, or rather the lack thereof, was the internal struggle which brought me to my knees, and ultimately opened up a window of willingness through which I passed into sobriety. I tend to view the ‘incomprehensible demoralization’ of alcoholism in a somewhat backwards way. Prior to my son being born, I embraced a state of ‘incomprehensible demoralization’ in that drugs and alcohol still had the capacity to numb my conscience. Yet after my son was born, drugs and alcohol no longer had that effect; I began to comprehend all too well how demoralizing my actions really were.
There was a strange yet befitting symbolism in my son coming about i.e. the birth of this beautiful child was the genesis of my own ‘rebirth’; never did I see so clearly ‘God doing what I could not do for myself’. Granted this symbolism is rather cliché, yet I find it hard not to recognize how poignant it has been throughout my sobriety. It is said, both in and out of the program, that before one can run one must first walk, and before one can walk one must first crawl. As my son was learning to crawl, so was I. As my son was learning to walk, so was I (albeit with quite a few stumbles, falls, and tears shed). Now, over 14 months later, I spend much of my time with my son running after him as he charges, head first, into the world around him. One of the greatest joys has been watching my son learn to speak. His desire to express himself is something which, though very apparent, has been hard won. Ironically one of my greatest struggles in sobriety has been the ability to communicate – the ability to connect a word to an idea, an idea to an emotion, and an emotion with an action. Although communication remains something I must consistently work on, I have come to the point in my journey where I can match my actions with my words and my words with my actions.
Although having a son acted as a catalyst for my sobriety, I have found that it is not through showing up for him that I can show up for myself; rather, it is by showing up for myself – my own life and my own sobriety – that I can show up for my son. I have found that in learning to be a father, I have also learned to be a son. As I have learned to show up for and love another human being, I have learned to show up for and love myself.