On October 13th of this year will be the 18 year anniversary of my fathers death. To this very second as I write this I still feel like it has not been that long, see my father was more than a man who married my mother and had kids. He was a dad he was a loving caring man who suffered from illnesses himself. Even though he had his own stress and severe depression which was medicated by Alcohol he did everything he could to ensure the safety and love for his family. Yes, my dad was very old school and stubborn which was the true cause of his death by thinking he could beat anything that came to him was an inspiration in itself but ultimately taught me a valuable lesson. Even the toughest bravest person is not exempt from the afterlife. Which I feel is the hardest thing for me to get past, see some would say as time goes on it becomes easier to get past the death of a loved one I personally think the opposite, yes I have learned how to cope and process through my feelings I have towards my father and his death. For me as I think about the 18 years I think about how much he missed and I look at my 3 kids and my wife and my life I made for myself and just get pissed. My kids not only do not have my father as a grandpa in their lives but they also do not have my wife’s father as he passed away from cancer 6 years ago. With my mothers passing 3 years in September I am faced with a repeat of my life. I grew up with only one grandparent which was my mothers mom so its like deja vu. I know my kids are being raised very different from how I was raised and they are already ahead of the curve, just makes me feel as I am living in a paradox. I am now living a life with logical thinking but often find myself in a torn state. Do I still have anger towards my father? Am I still deeply sadden by his death? I am still haunted in my nightmares of his death and have re-occurring dreams about him coming back.
It was fall of September 26th 1998 I turned the awesome age of 18 I finally became a man I was an adult I finally started feeling like a true member of society. My birthday was on a Saturday and myself and a buddy went to go ride my brothers friend jet ski for my birthday little did I know this was all a ploy to get me away from the house. My parents were throwing a huge surprise party. My dad had been feeling under the weather a few days before my birthday so during my party he did not drink much at all, I know this sounds weird but to us we knew he was not feeling good if he was not drinking especially at a get together like that. As the days went on his health went up and down for weeks until it got to the point where he was in bed for a few days. On the morning of October 10th my mom woke up in a panic asking me to check on my dad, he was wheezing and my mother asked him if it was time for him to go to the hospital, since he refused in the weeks prior. I walked into their room and my father who was a good 6’2 was curled up towards the foot of his bed making the most horrific noise that I to this day am haunted by and could not explain if I tried. I started saying him name repeatedly and louder each time I said it until I eventually was yelling his name and damn near smacking the sides of his checks to get a response he just kept staring off into space not a single blink of an eye lash. Which I just started screaming for my mom to call 9-1-1 I remember like it just happen my stomach was like a pit and my heart so pounded so hard and rapid I felt like I needed an ambulance.
On October 12th 1998 the Doctors called the entire family into a vacant room to explain to us that pretty much the only option was to pull the plug, two days in the ICU and they determined that my father was brain dead and that there was nothing more that could be done. As I sat there with my baby brother ( the one with special needs) sitting in his wheelchair in front of me with my arms around his neck hugging him, I remember the anger just rushing through I wanted to beat the shit out of that Dr. my mind was like what are you talking about? you want to kill my dad? not being able to process the whole conversation I just heard “There is nothing we can do he must die” the whole part of this that still to this day disturbs me is even though my baby was 15 his convective ability was that of a 6 month old and he is blind but the look on that kids face when the Dr said that, was like he just knew. That is the part that kills me he knew his dad who he also loved and idealized was gone. The Dr were awesome in letting us call in the whole family to say our good byes they waiting a whole day before they pulled the plug. By this point the ICU waiting room looked like a camp ground as we had sleeping bags blankets coolers food and 40 or people at a time in there people came and went all night as they lifted visiting hours for us. I kinda felt bad for the other few people who had family in the waiting room but we had a system my Uncle sat at a desk in front of the room my dad was in so he could monitor who was in there, so people could go in and say what they needed to without other people coming in. I went in and out but it was not til the day of is when I went in there and spoke to my dad, I just kept repeating to him “We are Hamels we do not quit, don;t you fucking quit on me” over and over and over the amount of pain I felt that day was paralyzing then something happen. On my dad;s left hand he was missing the tip of his ring finger due to a machine accident and his middle finger was fused so it would not bend I actually used to tease him because it looked like he was always giving people the finger. As I was sitting there by his bed side damn near in bed next to him I was holding his left hand as tight as I could just staring at him waiting for him to wake up and make some smart as comment about the tubes in his neck just then his entire left hand squeezed my hand tight and for a few seconds I flipped out and started yelling the feeling of hope hit me so hard I felt as the power of prayer and everything worked. So I ran out to where my family was screaming “HE SQUEEZED MY FUCKING HAND, HE IS ALIVE HELP FIND A DR HELP” within a second a family member found a nurse who came in and did a quick check only to tell me it was just a natural body reaction and that was not him. I felt devastated and was crushed so bad I went radio silent for the rest of the day my oldest sister tried to get me to talk to eat to do something I was a stone I completely left my body she just kept telling me not to shut down but it was too late. My hatred started to form for life I felt as my life was completely cheated and I was done with it. My father died October 13th 1998 from Strep Meningitis which traveled up his spine to his brain stem his right lung was 90% full of fluid he went into Respiratory Failure at our house they think sometime in the night or very early morning before my mom found him he was gone.
For so many years I spent locked in my head and the only time I would ever let out any emotion about my father or even talk about him I was drunk. I never processed my fathers death I just did I what I did best I buried deep and drank it away I fought so hard to not be like my father as I felt so angry that he failed us and he abandoned me in the time I needed him the most I just became a man, I went back to school I was turning my life around then that giant bolder came and crushed me flat. Instead of trying to get out from underneath the rock I made it my home I became comfortable with misery and learned how to hide my emotions except when I drank to much then all that anger, sadness grief would just pour out. I never really knew who I was as a person or what I wanted in life to be honest I was breathing but I was not alive I just walked around inside of this shell of a body pretending to live. I hated everything about myself and blamed myself for my dads death, my mother loosing the bar, her house and having to be split up in different zip codes. I also had a ton of anger towards my father all he had to do was go to the Dr he would have been fine would have gotten the treatment for his pneumonia but no, he had to think he was unstoppable. For so many years I found myself living in a shadow of a man I did not know, I turned to many as father figures in my life and surprise all three of them men are dead. My two uncles from both sides of my parents family and my father in-law the last was my Uncle Sam who was always there for me when I was a kid and he taught me so much he died on September 14th of 2014 which that January was when my life just about came to an end. The start of my new beginning my new life I got clean and got the help I so needed for my Mental Illnesses I have been able to process a lot in the last 18 months and I now am OK walking in my dads foot prints see I have decided I am going switch careers and after searching for what I want most out of life and what I want to do I realized I am my fathers son so I am getting into a trade. I got hired on with a company that will send me to school and pay me for it and since I grew up learning how to build, wire, and everything that involved a tool I am very happy. My dad was a jack of all trades and every house we ever lived in we gutted and re molded for so long I stayed away from doing this kind of thing as I feared I was not good enough. Turns out I am good at it and I enjoy working with my hands as I am always building things and repairing stuff around my mother in-laws house. I now know my path I need to follow is in the direction of my dad footprints but it is OK for me to not follow them into areas I need to change I can make new ones such as being sober and setting those footprints for my kids, and at any time I can meet up with my dads prints and walk right beside him I do not have to be in his footprints but I can walk right beside and make my own. in 18 months I have walked beside my father and made some new prints I broke some chains and took down some walls I am clearing a safe path for my kids to walk if they choose to follow me. I no longer feel as I living a shadow of my father I feel as he is next to me just smiling at me for everything I have done and the hell I went through to get there, I walked through hell and was lucky enough to not get burned as bad.
Have you ever felt like you could not breath? like someone is standing on your chest, a boot on your throat. These are some of the feelings I experience on a daily basis. I get overwhelmed with a feeling that I am all alone and that the people around do not want me around anymore, or that everyone thinks ill things of me. Now I am sure everyone has heard the “Don’t listen to anyone” “Who cares what people think” or the famous line that is a previous blog of mine “Its all in your head” I know that everyone means well by these phrases but the truth is it is not that easy in fact it is damn near impossible to do any of the above advise. My entire life I have based my actions on what people may think of me which in turn made me be the kind loving person I am today but also in that same sense made me overly paranoid on what people are thinking of me. I have never felt like I belonged in any group, or apart of society. I have always felt as I am the worst person to have ever been born. I have always believed that anyone who was kind to me or nice to me was just pretending because they either felt sorry for me for being such a looser or that they wanted something from me. Which mostly steams from my childhood of people who I thought were friends but ended up stealing a ton from me and my family, or jumping me in the alley and shoving a revolver in my face telling me I better not ever show my face in the neighborhood again .Which to me it is what it is and I am for the most part over that. The underlined feeling of trust however is a hard concept for me, I really only truly trust a handful of people and am working on more. See it is difficult for me to believe anyone could ever like me for who I am let alone love me, I am in constant fear that I am going to loose the people I love and trust, being is that I already lost a few due to untimely deaths.
Since I have been in therapy for so long they have adjusted my diagnosis a few times given the depth of my past I am actually opening up about. The theory behind my PTSD actually started from my childhood and after my father died just shoot it up and added to it. See I have this horrible habit of hiding my feelings and not talking about anything in my life. Its like the house analogy I said in previous blogs. When you walk by a house and the windows are open you can see inside but you really only see small amounts of the house, that is my life I only open the windows to the areas I want people to see, and for the longest time I would actually control the amount I would let people see. I gave the illusion that people were getting to know me but the truth is they had no idea. Sure I would be open on certain things but never gave the dark details of the amount of suffering I truly experience. The lonesomeness I would feel was so much to bear I would live deep inside this dark cozy hole I made myself home in. This went on for nearly 25 years and when I took that first sip of that sweet poison at the age of 12 I found a way to live in that hole I found a way to temperately fill those voids I have felt for so long. Drugs and Alcohol became a part of who I was deep down the part of me know one really knew, sure they have been may times people would question if I had a problem but by me being the adaptive person I was I was able to fix that and control it to a point. I became a home drinker and when I would talk about it I always made it seem normal.
Now that I am sober and have been for 1 year 5 months and 1 day I have had to revamp my thinking I had to find a new way to fill the void for for good with cement not just a liquid that would eventually evaporate into nothing. I had to figure out what I truly wanted for me and how to get it. Now in this time I have been let go form two jobs that truthfully I did nothing wrong. I showed up on time everyday, never missed the problem was I was not where they wanted me to be. I worked with Adults with Disabilities for 14 years that was all I knew so trying to reinvent myself has become a challenge. I landed on a career and the last job was in that field it was not a good company as they never gave me a chance, gave up on me after 2 and half weeks. I took a huge hit in the Mental department on that one, I felt as what the hell am I doing wrong I actually have 2 jobs and I am trying everything I can to improve my life but also for the sake of my wife and kids. We are currently living in my mother in-laws house and have been for the last 4 years. I am extremely grateful for her and the sacrifice she has made to open her home to us, but I am literally doing everything to get us out on our own. I know I made many mistakes in my life but I do not have the time or energy to waste on a regret. I have goals for myself and my family, and even though I took a Mental hit on the last job I really want that career so I got a new job in that same field and they are going to pay for me to get my Journeyman I refuse to stay down I am so sick of getting knocked down but I am also sick of laying there and feeling like the entire world hates me and is siting on me waiting for me to fail and die. I no longer wish to have a house, a career or a happy life, I am going to have these things it will happen I know what I have to do exactly to the penny to get us where we need to get where we want.To this day I have these crushing feelings and I still feel as I do not belong, the truth is no matter what I will always have me and that is the person I needed to learn to trust. It will take a lot more work but eventually I will be able to breath without any constraints. My secret to this is I believe in HOPE and I respect my illnesses and diseases and I have the same goal every single day I say to myself when I wake up. “Tonight I will go to bed sober” I keep it simple for me I have found some things to fill the emptiness I feel by positive phrases and goals. Who knows just maybe I will get to know the real me…
I know I am not the only person in the world who is constantly evaluating life and the events surrounding life. The truth is I am always trying to find things I can do to improve my quality of life or just to find pure happiness. For me this tends to become dangerous because instead of finding the value of what I do have I am always trying to find something better, the chase for more happiness that just seems to be on an endless trap. With the way the world is going with more and more mass deaths, the threat of terrorism increasing and the overall violence that has just taken a dark turn in the last few years. It is so hard for a person with my issues not to become overly paranoid about everything to the point of feeling like I am stuck in a room with no windows.From the constant feeling of needing to provide better and more for my family to the overwhelming fear that something is going to happen to them. I can not control the shit that happens in life but I have this uncontrollable feeling and pounding in my head that I have to keep my kids and wife close to me. I know these are two totally different feelings but are all relative to me how my mind works, let me explain in more detail. I feel the need to provide for my family as anyone does but I tend to go beyond my wife and I are going to be looking into buying a home within the next year or so, well I already have measures in place and in my mind of what I want as far as security. I have been researching camera systems , re-enforced front and back doors, alarms door locks. The crazy thing is I do not even have a house and I have already pre planned this and priced it out, now some will say that is being paranoid I look at it as I am being pro active. The truth and point is I could care less what people think or say now a days I am not in my yard with a tin foil hat but I am sure as hell going to take every single precaution to protect my family from being another statistic. So is it really being paranoid or crazy in this day and age? I do not believe it is the problem is with my PTSD my mind tends to panic my entire nervous system to where it paralyzes me and cause so much panic I go into a fear stricken mind fuck. Which I have steps for this the cold hard truth is no matter what happens in the world I know I can only do what I can for my family, I am that overly protective dad who damn near cradles my kids in a parking lot.
As i mention I am not the only person and the scary thought and truth is about %90 of people who are addicts feel the same way, how do you combat fear well you numb it out. The fear of the world stems from life experiences that happen. Fear always comes from somewhere and as time goes on without the proper processing of these situations then that small fear turns bigger and bigger, for me I never used to be claustrophobic in fact it started out small, I can not ride in the back seat of a car I used to feel uncomfortable then that grew into I would have to distract myself from being sick to my stomach. Today I freak I feel like I am suffocating and I can not breathe which makes a 10 minute an absolute nightmare. I personally believe it is because I am now sober and working through a lot of shit I never delt with so all these feelings I have now and the side effects I am experiencing is because I never had to deal with them before I numb the shit out of them. This for me can be a catch 22 as I need to deal with this so I can heal but the Alcoholic in me sometimes wants to escape from it because it gets crushing and hard to deal. I have a lot of things that I never noticed before or have issues with before that now I do, I can not go on rides anymore I get super ill. Weird stuff and with that I can just avoid going on rides, except I have small kids and they need me sometimes to go with them so I do. Facing my fear to a point but what if facing it actually makes it worse? Well these are the things that appear to be happening the more I face the more I fear and the worse I feel, the more I want to go on a booze vacation from the world I just want to run from the world as some days it gets so big and scary I am not sure how to get past it. Amazingly I do then it repeats I know as these events happen I get stronger I just do not realize it at the time. Since my recovery has begun I have done a ton of self reflecting so I am fully aware of what feeling I am having and when and sometimes I can pin point why. The ore I understand about me and my issues the more I can battle them when this world takes a dark turn, I also try not to watch the news and stay away from high stress situations if I can. Small steps to ensure I can do what I need to remain sane enough to be able to protect my family when I need to.
I am sure I am not the only person who has grown up to this saying “It is all in your head” I have heard this from so many people in my life. I am not sure what reminded of this phrase but I feel as I have some sort of connection to it. Maybe it is the fact that when I woke up this morning I felt so relieved that I went to bed sober again and that I have been able to do so for so long. I woke up feeling very mindful and lucky to be where I am, I got up with the kids today so my wife could sleep in and as I was making my coffee I thought to myself “Wow I do not feel like shit” meaning I did not have a headache I did not feel like I was the worst person in the world, my body did not feel heavy and like it was slammed on a concrete slab 90 times. Instead I woke up feeling proud and happy to be able to be here for my kids 100% even though my damn head has been spinning like no other and my feelings of worthlessness have been higher lately, I do not have to add being a drunken assshole to the mix I am able to just deal with the Mental Health side instead of more shit :Drunk JR” would have done. Which brings me back to the title I thought of this as I was reflecting on my morning and realized that out of all the insane sayings and phrase I grew up with this one is not that absurd in the sense in a way all this shit is in my head, I mean where the hell else is it? now I get that the context of this phrase is to imply that my Mental Illness and Addictions is all apart of some made up fairly tale I created in my own head, when in fact that is the bullshit part but this is what my parents generation grew up on told that depression was their fault if you just think happy you will be happy Um, really well in that case I should be happy all the time with no issues what so ever, not the case even though this is a phrase that is old and not used as often there are still a lot of people that are being told this in which they grow up feeling that everything is their fault. When they try to think happy and they truly can not feel happy they turn to things such as drugs and alcohol to help become happy since they feel they are broken and can’t just make themselves happy.
So the feedings of loneliness and hopelessness start to form and soon will be so strong that turning back will be impossible. Now I am also a whole hearten believer that Mental Illness and Addiction especially Alcoholism is hereditary I have seen way to much evidence to prove this theory so when you think about it if a child grows up hearing these types of phrase could they be the product of an Alcoholic parent who is in denial because of what they grew up on and were told when they had life issues? I would put my life savings on it in fact I would bet that if you asked anyone in recovery they would have some sort of phrase similar to this one they were told. “Get over it” is another one I am reminded of also if you asked anyone in recovery I am willing to bet that 9 out of 10 of them grew up in a house to where at least one parent was an Alcoholic depending on the room might even get a 10 out of 10 see growing up with a parent who was an Alcoholic even if that parent was in recovery for a good length of time the odds that the gene and predisposition to that trait is there in that child, now growing up with a parent who is in recovery gives that child a hell of a lot more of a chance to live a chemical free life everything we know now has been learned from when we were younger because the truth is I am older than I was yesterday everything I learned yesterday was stuff I learned when i was younger. I believe that our behavior is learned and that is all based on what was given to us on our genetics. The fact is I do have a choice on how my day will go in the way I choose to feel it, I can not control my thoughts or what happens in my head but I can choose how I interpreted it and choose how I want to feel about it.