In his book Kafka on the Shore, author Haruki Murakami opens, “And once the storm is over, you will not remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You will not even be sure whether the storm is over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you will not be the same person who walked in. That is what this storm’s all about.”
We all weather (and hopefully emerge from) emotional storms. Some are devastating, destroying everything we hold near and dear, while others leave a scratch barely. My tornado was addiction, and it almost ruined everything. Alcoholism is a powerful vortex of lost time, decimated relationships, crippled friendships, and the complete abdication of a moral compass that once upon a time faithfully exhibited True North. My experience is that much like category five hurricanes, addiction leaves nothing but death and destruction in its wake.
My parents and my wife never knew the extent of my addiction because alcoholics learn to lie early. We weather our storms, patch ourselves up, tell more lies and crack another bottle, picking up where we left off. But decades of dark clouds had been accumulating on my horizon, and one morning they (and I) finally broke.
In 2009, I was able to enter and complete hospitalization and inpatient addiction treatment in Seattle. Afterward, I was sober for the first time in a long time, and I, like Haruki Murakami, wondered to myself if, indeed, my storm was over. One thing for sure was that I wasn’t the same person I was when I walked (stumbled, really) into treatment. Addiction was my storm. Fortunately, I emerged alive. Unfortunately, I have attended far too many funerals of friends who did not.
Why all this talk about me? The answer- with my experience, I can now begin to set the stage. I was sharing with you the story of how my relationships, especially with my dad. It gained momentum and intensity, leading to the creation of the Cayman Cigar Company, how we rediscovered each other in the context of helping others. We will continue the journey next month.