There’s only so much pain the human body can take before it shuts down. The mind is no exception.

I have to recognize this, that in its current state, my relationship with R is very unhealthy. I shoulder the king’s share of that burden, yes, but it’s spiraled into a sea of discontent that threatens to drown the both of us. But I’ve taken to gaslighting myself lately, and that’s even worse.

The farther I am removed from an incident, the blurrier it becomes. In those moments, I feel justification for my actions, like I had reason to seek love when I hadn’t felt that connection for years. But as time goes on, the reasons erode. All that’s left is the feeling. And feelings aren’t facts.

I get hung up on technicalities, though. Given X, Y is true. I will provide an example.

I’m an alcoholic, but I wasn’t abusive in the traditional sense. I neglected my relationship with my wife and I marginalized her. I made her feel unheard and unloved, enough that, when shown affection by someone else, she warmed to it. It was only when I realized I was losing her that I started to shift my direction toward repairing our relationship. We are divorced now because I took more than she could give. Those are the facts.

The defenses I build from nuances and details have eroded – If she hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that; If she had been this, I would have been that. I could have very easily been that changed person well in advance of the love being lost, I just chose not to.

So when I look at my relationship with my daughter, a relationship I desperately want to repair, I feel the sting of injustice because the details matter to me. Yet they don’t to her. She doesn’t care that I moved on so quickly from my marriage because it was one-sided for the final few years; she sees only that I started a new relationship while I was still married. This is an affair. This is a fact.

I have hundreds more examples of what is seen versus what is real, but, as I’ve always preached: Perception is reality. If her perception is that I’m abusive and scary, then that’s what I am. To her. If her perception is that I abandoned her for another family, then that’s what I’ve done. To her.

I know, in my heart, I’m not that person. But that’s what she sees. And I struggle with the concept of pride and technicality.

Part of being an alcoholic, especially in a 12-step program, is taking responsibility for your actions, doing a ‘fearless moral inventory’, and recognizing the patterns that lead to substance abuse; fix those things and life as a whole becomes better. I am a prideful person. I think too much of myself sometimes. It burns me to know that I will have to swallow the coals of her perceptions in order to start healing anew.

The night of the fight, you might feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. The scariest part of this fight is letting go of the hope that it works. It’s not about anything ‘working’. It’s about being true to the people who need it. It’s a hard leap to make.


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