Aloha and Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019.
2018 was filled with good times and bad times alike. Mine began by grieving for my younger brother Kyle and adopting his Boston Terrier. I have been periodically overwhelmed with emotions that cripple conscious thought and cause sudden despair. Pleasant memories of Kyle slowly outweighed the grief, and I became struck with tears of joy mixed with sorrow and loss. This process of grief has isolated me from being emotionally available to my parents. Without Kyle, I feel more disconnected from my family.
I know my parents struggle with the loss of their child. I hear it in my dad’s voice, and I can see it in my mom’s eyes. There is wavering confidence, obviously shaken by the notion that no parent should grieve a child. No parent should see them die. It is supposed to be the other way around. I can only imagine how they must feel.
The constant self-criticisms and doubt that arises when the past went seemingly wrong. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Was I a bad parent?”. Agonizing introspection that usually leaves us just as confused as when we began. Before long we flip-flop to “It is what it is,” and, “Let it be.” Only to find conflict with our lack of self-pity.
A Blooming Scribe has been an attempt to reconcile my emotions through the written word and empathy with others. I’ve found so much support and encouragement to continue writing poetry and have shifted my focus to completing a book. My first book in fact. One that shares my experience with addiction and life’s struggles. I have a finished manuscript and I am in the process of editing.
The initial read by my editor went very well. She gave me the feedback that I needed and continues to push me to write better. I have been writing this book for almost three years, so I am antsy to get it published. She assures me, “This is your first book, and you want it to be the best it can be…don’t be in a hurry”. I don’t want to lollygag, but she has a valid point.
2018 also saw many personal accomplishments. I completed my first off-road triathlon, bought my first house and adopted a Siamese kitten. All three were goals that I set when I was in jail in 2017.Thanks to my willingness to change and abstain from alcohol, I could accomplish difficult tasks. There was no way I could have prepared for the physical and financial hurdles I encountered while being a drunk.
It took me a little over three hours to finish the event but I was unable to finish the half-mile swim. I made it a few hundred yards before my mind convinced me the wetsuit wouldn’t let me breathe. I panicked, waved for a rescue volunteer, and was towed to the shore behind a jet ski. I sat for several minutes before I returned to the staging area and stripped off my wetsuit before I jumped on my mountain bike. The twelve-mile single-track course wasn’t a challenging terrain but it was difficult to navigate with hundreds of competitors. I finished with a three-mile run, half of it up the side of a mountain. Many of us walked, myself included.
Home ownership has been a dream for many years. I began the search when I first came back from Hawai’i. I naively thought I could walk into a bank and say, “Hey I have a college degree and a solid business plan, I would like money to buy a house and start a business.” But I had no collateral, new student loans, and poor credit history. It took four more years from the school of hard knocks to learn how to live a life that would allow me to establish a good credit history and acquire collateral. I signed the closing papers one year after residence in jail as a neer-do-well.
As silly as it may sound, I swear I was a cat in a previous life. There has always been a special bond with my feline friends, especially Siamese. The first Siamese kitten played a huge role in my previous five-year stint of sobriety. I was in a failing relationship and I found solace in devoting my life towards the care of a cat. I learned how to be more responsible for another life and was given a purpose to stay sober. Drunk Sean couldn’t take care of a kitten, let alone himself. That attachment ultimately triggered relapse when the cat passed away four years later.
There is something about the Siamese that I fell in love with. They imprint on humans very easily and as a result are more personable, playful, and vocal than other cats. They also tend to have crossed eyes which lead to many behavior quirks. I would go as far to say that Siamese believe they are not cats, but whatever animal they imprint on. Mine thinks she is a Boston Terrier/Human. Frankie has raised her phenomenally well thus far.
My free time has been spent playing guitar,conducting plant extraction experiments, and volunteering at the local food bank. But most of my time has been devoted to reading books.
The one addiction I will never give up is my love of books. I purchase books faster than I can read them and tend to read or listen to multiple books at the same time. I’m currently consuming Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Breaking Through Power by Ralph Nader, Taking a Stand by Rand Paul, Strong is the New Beautiful by Lindsey Vonn, An Architect of Nature by Luther Burbank, How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan and the December issues of The Scientist, Nature Biotechnology and Nature Methods. I basically place books or magazines in convenient locations in case I have free time. I learned long ago if you have a book, you never have to wait.
I am grateful for the dedicated individuals who have made audiobooks. The hours spent in the car each week during commutes has been transformed into a cherry-picked education. While I recognize the inarguable need for music, I no longer feel like I am mindlessly driving to my job. I’m not at the will of the radio advertisements or repeated radio songs. I took back my sound experience like the others before me did with digital playlists, burnt CDs and mixtapes.
I know 2019 has the potential to be just as great as the years before. Some people and ideas have come into my life that I hope will be there for a very long time. I have seen the dreams of other people flourish alongside my success and struggles. But I also know that the year could be more difficult. Friends will continue to pass on, and family will succumb to the alcoholic sickness. Either way, I must stay on my path towards recovery and do the best to be there for others.
I hope this year brings many blessings and may you overcome the challenges in your life. We get another year and another opportunity to become better people!