the-fall-before-the-rise

The first few days after the incident were the hardest. Colleen’s parents convinced her to press charges against me.

I felt awful. There was no way I was going to deny what I had done to her. I pleaded guilty and got one and a half years for assault and battery.

I knew our relationship was over, and I wouldn’t know how to face my daughters after what I’ve done. I welcomed the punishment.

During lock-up, I felt as if my insanity was spiraling out of control. Maybe I was going through withdrawal or maybe I finally snapped, but I could no longer distinguish fantasy from reality.

Sometimes I would wake up in my cell and see my daughters standing before me. They were crying and shouting at me, asking why I hurt mommy.

Whenever I had these hallucinations, I struggled to shake them. Once, they followed me around all day. Everywhere I went, the three of them were standing side by side. I tried to request a visit with the prison doc, but it was denied.

I needed a drink, and bad. I felt like I was going to die in there.

I guess Colleen was feeling bad for me because she went and talked to the judge and got him to shorten my sentence. I didn’t cause any trouble on the inside, so I imagine it wasn’t too hard to convince him.

I ended up serving only 11 months.

As soon as I was released, I went straight to our home. It felt weird to just walk in, so I knocked. My oldest, Angela, answered. The look of shock on her face was vivid. She tried to change it, but it was too late.

“You shouldn’t be here.” That’s all I remember her saying. I shouldn’t be there. I shouldn’t be in my own home. I was no longer welcome in my family. I asked about Colleen. Turns out, Colleen got a restraining order against me. I frightened her, they told me. My own wife was scared of me.

It was clear that there was no fixing this. I had to get my family back and to do that, I had to change. I went to the nearest pay phone and called my parole officer. I told him my situation and that I needed a place to stay. He gave me the address to a treatment center. Really it was just an old woman and her husband taking in addicts. But something was better than nothing. So that’s where I went.

Gene and Angie. Yeah, Angie, like my daughter. Gene ran an Alcohol Anonymous meeting once a week. I attended regularly and even took the 12-steps seriously. Just as I was finally piecing my mind back together, the hallucinations came back. Only this time, it was Kyle.

Every night I would dream about him, and when I woke up, I would see him standing at the foot of my bed. He wore this look of disappointment. The first time I saw him, I tried to reason with him. I explained that I made a mistake and that I would make him proud. His expression never changed. There he stood with the same look of shame.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop seeing Kyle. I started sleeping less. I couldn’t eat. It was tearing me apart. I eventually talked to Gene about it and he suggested that I see a therapist. Been there, done that. Therapists don’t work for me. They only make things worse.

I couldn’t take it anymore. One night I was walking home from my job at the corner store, and Kyle was following me down the street. Every time I looked back, there he was. I started to run, but then he ran too, keeping the same amount of distance between us.

I went into a full on sprint, and yet he followed still. I ran for as long as I could trying to get away from Kyle. Finally, I couldn’t run anymore. I stopped and doubled over trying to catch my breath. I looked back and Kyle was gone. But when I looked up, I realized I was standing in front of a busy tavern.

I knew I shouldn’t have, but maybe one drink would be okay and just maybe it would keep me from seeing my dead brother.

Only three months after my release, and I was already back to downing a glass of whiskey, straight.

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