I started my own handyman business, doing odd jobs and keeping my own books. My parole officer was a stand-up guy, and helped me find a car dealer who would give me a loan for a work van. I even started attending A.A. meetings once a week.
I thought I could fix my life by filling my day with work and focusing on rebuilding a new life, but without a real purpose, I soon found myself going to the local bar after work. I started going because I was lonely and wanted to meet women, but the alcohol quickly got the better of me. Within a few weeks, I was drinking at home every night.
Nobody will tell you that sobriety is about more than not drinking. It’s about finding a real purpose, and I had none. Worse yet, I still hadn’t taken responsibility for my actions. I thought if I worked hard, made some money, showed that I’d reintegrated myself into society, my wife would come back. Nobody will tell you that some decisions can’t be undone. Nobody will tell you that sometimes, you have to sleep in the bed you’ve made for yourself.
Maybe people want to make sobriety sound easy. It’s not. Like anything worthwhile in life, it’s hard, and it’s only because of my strong Abuela that I’m sober today. After a few weeks of me coming home and drinking after work, she beat me with a wooden spoon. She told me I was just like my worthless Papi, and for some reason, that struck a nerve. I told her I was better than him, that I would never waste my life as he had.
She told me to prove it, and I poured my half-empty beer down the drain. I haven’t had a drink since.
Everyone’s journey of recovery is different. There are 12 steps to the A.A. program, and we all struggle with different things. The hardest part, for me, was Step 9. That’s the one where you make amends to those you have injured unless doing so would cause them harm.
I had to accept that I would never get my family back. I had to accept that I had caused them so much pain that our relationship would never, ever recover. I had to accept that even if I found my ex-wife, I would only hurt her and my daughters by reaching out to them. I made amends to my Abuela. I’m still making amends to my mom by paying her back the $15,000 she lent me.
As for my wife and daughters, I have to let them go, because there is no way I can ever make amends for what I did, and I would only hurt them if I tried.