By Shawn Dobbs, Contributor
“The road to sobriety is a simple journey for confused people with a complicated disease.” -Anonymous
The symptoms of my disease ain’t like most. I don’t come down with a cough, or a fever. I don’t get a scratchy throat or congestion. I don’t itch or get hot or cold sweats. My symptoms include loss of memory, broken bones, mysterious wounds and waking up in places I don’t remember falling asleep. My symptoms include destroying all the things and people I care about most in my life. My symptoms include losing my wife, my children, my truck, my farm and my dignity. My disease is progressive and incurable, but I refuse to die.
I’ve always been a little hard headed, one of my better qualities. One occasion, I was waiting outside the supermarket for my wife, right outside the door, over top of those yellow striped lines. One of the cart boys- you know, those little pimply junior high kids that push carts and pick up my trash for a living- one of them cart boys asked me to move. Said I couldn’t park there. He come right up to my truck, a Husker Red Ford F-250 with a rifle mount on the back window, his head barely reached the door handle, and asked me to move. Kid had guts. I kindly informed him that I was not parked, as the car was still in drive. Technically, I was braking. He kindly called the police, who kindly repeated the information the cart boy gave me. I wondered briefly if they were affiliated somehow. The Official Police Liaison to pimply cart boys or something.
The officer couldn’t do nothing. Sure the sign said no parking, but even he had to concede I wasn’t parked. Just to make sure I got my point across I stayed in that same spot until midnight, the brake duct taped to the floor of the truck. The wife eventually walked home. Like I said, I can be a bit hard headed.
I weren’t sick. I was dying. I could see it. The weight loss was like a bear out of hibernation. The fatigue, a man twice my age wouldn’t feel this exhausted. The sweating, the shaking, the anger. If I was my wife I’d be taking a pregnancy test. Only thing could make me feel better was a drink. The more I drank the sicker I got, but the better I felt. Sure, when I stopped, everything came back- the anger, the sweating, the shaking. Only a drink could help. There was no cure for this. A man should be able to take his liquor, and it was too damn hard for me to admit I was weak. Doctors got no cure for weakness.
I don’t believe in taking things I don’t need. There ain’t many things I can’t do for myself, and if I can’t I’ll sure learn it. Most folks are quick to give up. They got no faith in themselves. They let other people do their taxes. They eat microwave food. You know what microwave food says to me? It says “this is food fit to be ate by a microwave.” No one knows how to hunt, fish, farm, or cook no more. When I get sick I drink more water, get more sleep, and keep on moving. None of that’s working now.
I even saw a doctor. I told him I never took a pill in my life, but if there’s a pill for this, I’ll take it. There ain’t. You know what there is for this? A “support group.” A god-damn support group. Like I need support. What the hell is a group gonna do for me? Can I take that group with me wherever I go? Is that group gonna follow me to every bar and make sure I get home alright? Is that group gonna bring my wife back, buy me a new truck, and tend my farm for me? If a man can’t support himself, that’s when he knows it’s all over. You know what that doctor gave me? A death sentence. He might as wella told me “You’re weak, Jim. You’re weak, and ain’t no cure for weakness.” Thanks, doc. I’ll drink to that.