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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the night before exit

are there any accidents in life?

it's easy to justify these events when the outcome is positive or much to our liking, but what about those events that leave us endlessly scratching our noggins (as my daddy would have said...).

today, december the 13th, 1978, my daddy died officially of pneumonia. but truly, he died from complications of alcoholism, drug addiction and type 1 diabetes. he was a gp, who still made house calls. he left behind a beautiful, self-sufficient wife, two healthy children of barely 10 and 8, and a pack of family, friends and patients whom adored him...

two weeks later, my mother, brother and i, and "friend, p.", were faking our way through a christmas eve of misstepping sugar plum fairies and a charlie brown christmas tree shedding all it's pines in shock. even the picturesque fire sparked with discontent. it should be prefaced that i sucked my thumb right up until i was 10. i can now self-diagnose this as self-soothing behavior, during a childhood jam packed with trauma and chaos. in addition to the thumb sucking, i had wee straps tied together in lieu of a security blanket that i took with me everywhere.

on christmas eve, 1978, a mere 11 days after daddy had died, the little red haired girl had an epiphanous moment. before kidney disease. before transplant. before acting. before marriage. before los angeles. before addiction crumbled her to her knees. she knew those little strands were a compulsion; she was obsessed by them, and she had to break the habit. so with a broad, confident flick of the wrist, she released those strands forward and into melting incineration.

how could such a little girl already straddle the empowerment to conquer addictive behavior after such a fresh, soul-stripping loss?

i have very few items of my daddy's. but the one i treasure the most is his final address book. it is a perfect green. a tad warmer than olive, and the covers are leather. i have kept it safely tucked away in my chest, my heart, for so many years, that it still smells from leather...and beer...and daddy, whenever i open it. and whenever i look at those pages, a smile inevitably infects my face with a tingly, nostalgic flush. for in every corner of every page are...names, notes, asterisks, scribbles, amendments...entered. exactly. like. mine. (sigh...) but, it's what's on the very first page that i hold in my heart tonight...

for under "a" he had written a phone number for alcoholism. and he had put it in quotations...


["you knew, daddy. i know you knew. and you tried. as best as you knew how. and i know. i know how incredibly hard it is to live with 2 chronic, progressive illnesses "...]

so tomorrow, i channel that 10 year-old little red haired girl again. the one who had the fortitude to emerge through emotionally paralyzing chaos; break her unhealthy way of coping and change her behavior.

now i look from you, oh, "anne of green geoffrey st."; you who loved to write and then morphed it into a demented, stunted version of itself...lists, lists and more lists...your fiery ceremony is fast approaching, for you cement me in unhealthy stasis...far away from province "zen", city of "at one", and home of "a thousand yoga breaths". you paralyze me in a cycle of control and procrastination; and snip short creativity and trust.

so tonight, i surrender. to everything i learned here. and every moment i am not fully present in.

for i am not in control. i have never been in control. and i will never be in control.

[thank god...]

this afternoon, i signed my discharge/after care plan. it reads on paper like i'm "one hot mess":

-vocational and educational achievements: client is unemployed and currently not in school.

-employment status: unemployed.

-stresses: marital strife, anger, anxiety, depression, family of origin issues/relational strain with mother and brother.

-participant's exit plan: client will attend 12-step meetings. and work the steps with her sponsor. she will also engage in individual psychotherapy as well as couples therapy.


but as i placed pen to paper to ink this state of affairs, i glanced at the date.

december 13th.

the day my daddy died.

i am being discharged into recovery on the day my father died from addiction.

there are no accidents...


  1. your writing is breathtaking.... and again I have tears..... what a beautiful story that you have let us in on so unselfishly.

  2. Honey you can do this xox

  3. If you make your exit feeling like a hot mess, know that I see you as leaving with much to look forward to. Life is beautiful, even when it's hard. You are stronger than you feel.
    Love, love, love.... Suz

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