Fear is essentially my biggest challenge in sobriety. I am afraid of so many things. Air travel. Wolves. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. And of my past thwarting my ability to contribute and be happy in the future. I’ve written a great deal about my fears over my DUI preventing me from working in Canada, and other such things. Today, I have found a new thing to worry about.
PECMC is a medical center that sees a lot of children. So naturally, there is a Child Abuse Background Check, similar to that which a person would go through to be a teacher or daycare worker or adoptive parent. Obviously, I have no history or record of any wrongdoing with children of any kind. I like kids (I don’t think I want any of my own, but I tend to like other people’s kids), and kids like me for the most part. My job at PECMC will not, of course, be related to patient care. I’ll have no meaningful interaction with patients of any kind.
However, that doesn’t mean I can’t find something to panic about. The forms ask me to list everyone I’ve ever lived with. That, of course, includes my ex-wife and ex-stepson. While I don’t believe she would invent lies from whole cloth against me, I would not be particularly surprised if she spoke negatively of me with regard to children because of how I drank. And frankly, she wouldn’t be wrong in that regard. It’s totally inappropriate to drink as much as I did when kids are around.
But we divorced, and she was very angry towards me. Then, about 10 months ago she contacted me asking me for about $23,000, to help my ex-stepson, and I refused, saying that I felt I could not be involved in her life, though I would be there for my ex-stepson if he contacted me personally. Which he hasn’t in the entire intervening time. I’ve had no further contact with either of them except for sending him unacknowledged birthday and Christmas presents, delivered to his grandparent’s home.
I’m reasonably certain that nothing could come of this. I don’t know for a fact that she’s going to be contacted. I don’t know that she’d act spitefully if she were. To be fair, she had opportunities to make our divorce less pleasant than it already was, and she did not take them. I don’t think she would try to derail me now out of mere bad will. But it also would not surprise me. So I contacted our former marriage counselor. I know she couldn’t reveal anything my ex did say, but perhaps she could attest that while she was our marriage counselor, no abuse was ever alleged. Certainly, none occurred, none was in our divorce agreement, and none was ever alleged in the criminal or civil justice system.
And if I end up having to answer for being a drunk, I can do that. Because I was a drunk. And I am not now.
This is how I confront my fear. I write my fears down. I share them, to puncture their inflated power. I assess the situation as honestly and effectively as I can. I seek counsel from others in the program. I recognize my part in the fear. I accept what I’ve done wrong, and what I haven’t, and I prepare to give my account, without deflecting any blame that I warrant. And then I move forward, and accept the consequences of my past for what they are. More, I cannot do.
This is what my sobriety looks like today. Taking forward steps through fear. Confronting my past. Laying out my self honestly. Whatever happens, I can face it. I’m sober. That’s what matters. And wherever my ex-wife and ex-stepson are, I hope they’re well, and prospering. I have no stomach to resent them.