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Everybody Hurts

September 01
11:52 2019

Mike Rudon Jr.

One of the very first columns I wrote, when I decided to go public with my struggle with alcohol, was titled Everybody Hurts. To this day only God knows why I felt that writing about my nightmare would help others, and maybe help me. I mean that seriously. Only God knows. And I trust Him even when I slip and fall, and even when I lose my way, and even when I have no clue what I’m doing. My journey to sobriety, at least this last stage, has been both exhilarating and disheartening. But I hold on to my faith, and I mean to carry this through to the end.

I am reminded of that column, tonight, because I am hurting. I’ve been hurting for a little while now. And I can’t seem to get out of it. It’s supposed to be easy, right? The memes say so. The key to happiness is loving yourself. Okay, consider it done. Except it’s not easy to do. In fact, I can’t find the key to happiness. Hell…I can’t even find the lock.

I was sitting in a fast boat on Tuesday, hair blowing in the wind, the skies blue and cloudless, the water a perfect turquoise. It was a wonderful day out of the office doing what I love. But I was a mess. Somebody took a picture of me – that damned Alexis – and my absolutely beautiful face was a perfect picture of the blackness inside. I sat there in that boat, and I felt a nothingness inside. I got through the day, went through the motions, made jokes, did my interviews, stared off into the sunset like I was supposed to – all the good stuff – but I felt this darkness inside. And I kept thinking, as I talked to my colleagues, that we really do have no idea what is going on in people’s heads. We really, really have no idea.

I’ve had occasion to be around people who are drinking lately, and I’ve seen it in their faces. The same thing I feel inside. The pain, the frustration, that mindless, insane compulsion to find some sort of peace somewhere, somehow. I know what my triggers are, and I’ve learned that it takes a combination of things to push me over the edge. A situation at work, frustration with a relationship, a heart that cares too much and is hurt too easily, a yearning for affection, loneliness, maybe a bad moment with the kids, a particularly sad bit of news which makes me realize that we have become less than human, something stupid somebody says on Facebook – these are the things. Can you believe that all these things keep happening all together? It’s uncanny. And I am struggling to maintain my calm, and my focus.

There’s this one guy who seems to go look for my columns posted on Facebook on our page, and he apparently takes great joy in using the words rambling drunk in the same sentence when he comments on the post. For some reason, his stupidity and insensitivity bother me.

I know there are many people going through one, or two, or any combination of these things that trigger an urge to drink. I am sure there are many people who are hurt by and affected by and triggered by a whole range of other stuff. Maybe you’re driving to work, and a sad song comes on the radio and that sends you into the dark. No joke. It happens. We all hurt. That is the truth. We all get overwhelmed. That too, is the truth. We all get broken up by a careless word, or by careless people. My careless word may not be your word. My careless people aren’t your people. But we all hurt.

Let me tell you what helped me. A solid core of support from friends who refused to give up on me helped – and are still helping. The support of family, some of them anyway, who may not have understood the problem, but they understood that family is supposed to stick. Work helps. Focus on work. Positivity helps. When the darkness tries to drag you down, focus on something positive, a memory or a thought or a person. If you gotta imagine somebody naked, do your thing. I have. What doesn’t help is pride. When I first reached out to AA for help, I learned that we alcoholics are arrogant in our drunkenness. And humility is key. Oh boy have I learned humility at the stinking feet of alcohol. Keep away from people who judge you. Keep away from people who are careless with your feelings. Listen to gospel music. Or upbeat music. Keep away from bars, and women in bars if that is your weakness. Lose phone numbers if you have to. Block and delete. Be selfish if you have to. This is your life. Our lives.

If you have kids, never let them go. Shame yourself by realizing that you, in all your drunken, dangerous, reeking mess, should be a role model for your kids. Use that shame to build yourself up.

And God. Never let go of God. Trust in Him. Some jackasses will scoff. That’s their business. Ain’t no shame in laying it all before God, in crying out to Him.

I have been way down, and lately, I have been way up, mostly. I believe with all my heart that I’m getting to where I need to be. I no longer fool myself. I am human. And I fall. But I am strong. Just watch me rise.

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