Digging in the Dirt

It’s been a helluva few years. I had a string of manic episodes, got divorced, lost my apartment of 25 years, and was diagnosed with mild emphysema. On the other side of things, I cut out the smoking and drinking and have been sober for 208 days. In some ways, I’m more stable than I’ve ever been.

The other day I was watching a movie called “To Leslie,” about a woman who gets control over her addiction issues and in the end, reunites with her estranged son. While watching, I started sobbing uncontrollably. My own mom never overcame her alcoholism and died in 2001 at the age of 54. My recent divorce touched off my abandonment issues (she left me) and this movie really drove things home. Now that I’m not numbing myself with 6-8 beers 4 nights a week, these abandonment issues have risen up from my unconscious and I’m finally equipped to deal with them.

I’ve started journalling about some of the nightmarish events that happened to me as a result of my mom being an alcoholic, and plan to turn some of the content into songs. It’s my way of revisiting the experiences and feeling what I should have felt, and trying to process now what I wasn’t able to then. It’s great news that I’m able to do this, but it’s obviously hard as hell to revisit the events and be fully present.

The first incident that came to mind happened when I was 6 or 7 and my brother was 2 or 3. It was night in Deerfield, Illinois, and my mom was driving drunk with my brother and myself in the backseat. She hit another car, then pulled into the parking lot of the 400 Building on Lake Cook Rd. After the crumpled car came to a stop, she jumped out of the car and ran, leaving my little brother and I in the car to fend for ourselves.

At the time, I kept my cool. Took care of my brother. But I see now I must have been terrified. Car accidents are scary. And then the person who’s supposed to comfort and protect us got out of the car and ran away. I know alcoholism is a complex beast, but at the time, it sure looked to me like my mom didn’t give a shit about us. Another point of the story I learned much later was that the car was actually leased by my dad’s boss, so after the cops ran the plate, they showed up at his house ready to arrest him. I don’t remember what happened to me and my brother. I just remember sitting there in that old brown Pontiac Bonneville in the deserted parking lot.

In some ways, I am still stuck in the backseat of that car, acting cool. And this is the ideological hook of the first song I’m writing from this series. I’m toying with making a whole album of similar songs, called “Mother’s Day”, but I’m apprehensive, as I’ve had several false starts with albums lately. I started an album called “Angel and the Alien” about my relationship / divorce from Maureen, but my feelings are changing so quickly, they’re hard to pin down long enough to write about them. I’m going to go where the wind blows me, which seems to be focusing on the childhood stuff first.



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