The Boy Who Didn't Fall Far From the Tree

Trigger warning: The following entry includes descriptions of self-harm, substance abuse, and blood.

In which I take the fifth step and tell someone about all the fucked up stuff I’ve been through.

07:00 · 12th Feb 2020 - 961 words about health

Getting home I would do what I did most of those nights. I “go to sleep” on the bathroom floor instead of going to bed.

I wake up intermittently for the next ~18 hours and vomit violently until I’m spewing bile and retching, unable to breathe for how sick I am.

How did I get here?

Am I unlikeable?

I never really had any friends in school and was bullied a lot.

Desperate to fit in, to be liked, to be anyone else but me; I started drinking and smoking and doing drugs at 16-years-old.

They say, “emotional pain or trauma are some of the most common reasons for people to engage in self-destructive behaviour.”

It’s hard to tell if you have a problem when everyone around you is getting drunk too.

Denial is a powerful enabler

The police report says the car was totalled.

The accident breaks a few of my ribs, punctures one of my lungs and shatters half my face. Five titanium plates are placed around the skull they reconstruct as I become a case-study in Norway.

Years later, my memories of that night still come to halt about an hour before the accident.

I still have four of the titanium plates. Three holding my face together and the last one in a bag, alongside two of the teeth that I pulled out.

A hip graft surgery to rebuild my jaw failed, leaving most of my left-side face with a partial jawbone and no teeth and I can only chew food with my right-side.

I get migraine-like headaches as a frequent reminder of the past choices I made and my skull now acts as an unpleasant barometer.

Aside from the scar where my jaw pierced through my face, you can’t see much from the outside though.

Am I broken?

The doctors say my face will eventually collapse in on itself, though they haven’t given me a timeline on when this would happen. I imagine it’s happening right now, like substance abuse itself, creeping up slowly until you reach the point of no return.

So there I was at 19-years-old, already convicted with reckless endangerment and a second driving whilst under the influence (DUI), only this time my drivers’ licence was revoked for 6 months and I was sentenced to one-to-one rehabilitation counselling about my drinking.

I thought the counselling was a massive waste of time, “I don’t have a drinking problem. I drink the least of my friends.”

Nine days after I had been released from the hospital, I was already out drinking again—and at the time, I was quite proud of this achievement.

Denial is a powerful enabler.

Apple, meet tree

My father left when I was 2-years-old.

Some years he would call ahead of birthdays and say that he was going to show up with a present. I remember more times when he didn’t show up at all.

By the time I was 19-years-old we only lived a 2-minute walk across the road from each other but our lives rarely crossed.

I would see him occasionally in town, drunk with some of the local houseless people with substance abuse problems.

As a teenager, we finally had a mutual interest.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” they say.

Carlos Eriksson as a Disney character, like a puppet on a string.
Apple, meet tree.

Even if that tree is nowhere near the apple.

I remember one day, viscerally more than with any particular clarity. I was drunk, he was drunk.

It was probably a Wednesday.

After running into each other in town we ended up sitting outside his doorstep, talking, and drinking. At one point he bartered himself a cheap bottle of vodka in exchange for a harmonica.

That harmonica is one of the few things I have from him and for years I kept it in my bookshelf like a family heirloom.

Am I unlovable?

Our little party of two came to a bloody end when he got so drunk he fell over, hitting his head open on the pavement. As he was swearing I took him in, cleaned and patched up his wound before deciding that it was time for me to go home.

Getting home I would do what I did most of those nights, except it was probably a Wednesday afternoon.

Bathroom.

Bile.

Breath.

Apparently, this is either alcohol poisoning or withdrawal symptoms.

To be honest, some days I would crave the hangover more than the intoxication.

Desperate to get away, to be anyone else but me.

I would find relief in those moments of asphyxiation because my mind wasn’t running everywhere, it was finally still, quiet and calm.

I used to call it my hard reset.

But I need to find a better way. A softer way.

Prepare to stop being such a fuck up

That Wednesday and its harmonica are one of the few prized memories I have of him.

He died nine months before Lucien was born.

They never met and most days I think it was probably for the best.

Unlike other stories, I don’t know how this one ends.

I’m still prone to self-destructive or “dysregulated behaviours,” as psychologists call it.

But I’m pruning, nurturing and growing a different kind of tree. One which might grow apples that don’t taste of bitter bile.

I’m trying to love myself even though I’ve given myself so many reasons not to.

I can count the number of times I’ve had a drink this and last year.

I was sober for our company Christmas party.

And getting home now; most nights I cook dinner, relax, and I go to sleep in a bed.

And that’s a start.


Theme: health

Topics: psychology, back in time, relationships, father and son, journeys