Gene berated me non-stop when I came home from the tavern. I deserved it, so I took what I had coming. He explained that being in his home was a privilege, and if I wasn’t going to take it seriously, I should leave.
He was right. There were a lot more people out there who deserved this more than I did. If there is one thing I hate, it’s when people are disappointed in me. So I gave Gene my word. I told him that I was going to give this my all. I was going to do whatever it took to get my life back on track. I meant every word I said to him.
For a few weeks, I was doing good. I attended AA. I talked through my issues with Gene. I even stopped seeing Kyle.
Why is it that whenever you finally are on both feet, something comes in to knock you down?
During month 5 of my road to recovery, I was working late at the store, doing inventory, when Colleen came in. After I heard the ding of the entrance, I looked over and saw my beautiful wife. She was radiant, but she still had a scar over her left cheek, where my ring cut her wide open.
I’m not sure why, but I ducked down behind one of the shelves. I watched her (very creepily, I might add) as she went straight to the fridge and grabbed a gallon of milk. It had been nearly two years since I’d seen her last. There was no way I could let her see me now.
Crouched down, I inched my way around the shelf to get a better view. She seemed lost in her thoughts. Then, very abruptly, she spun around and called my name. “Nick!?” It was as if she felt my presence. I stood slowly and began walking toward her. She shook her head no, put the milk back and beelined out of the store, brushing past me. She still smelled the same. My beautiful Colleen.
For weeks after, I replayed that moment over and over again in my head. I was on step nine of the program, where you make amends with those you’ve harmed. I managed to call my parents. I called my co-workers and a few old friends. However, I tried repeatedly to bring myself to knock on my front door.
I needed to make amends with the most important women in my life. Yet, try as I might, I continued to fail. I knew Colleen had a restraining order, but maybe she would give me just a minute or two to apologize. As if I could truly apologize for my actions.
It didn’t matter, because I could never make it onto the street.