“Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection; the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer.” – C.S. Lewis
It is a strange thing, the decor of a jail cell, every where you look or touch there is the imprint of a person trying to recreate a hangover in three dimensions. The walls are a pale yellow tinged with a putrid green, as subtly acrid as bile itself. This was the room’s softest feature. It was here that I began to reflect upon the events that paved the road to this room. Maybe it was neither the time nor the place to embark on this journey, but that had never stopped me before – prudence.
It is one thing to have a love for alcohol, it is another to have a hatred for authority, rules, and convention; neither are terribly beneficial to a person trying to toe the line, but when mixed they are a horrifying cocktail. Not that I ever tried to toe the line, but I did try to keep my nose clean…well I didn’t really try, but I thought it sucked when it was dirty. I had spent the better part of a decade exploring the edge of what was acceptable behavior; I thought that it was no big deal, nobody was getting hurt, and I was having a good time. This was not the truth however, my poor wife and everyone else who cared about me spent more time than they should have had to wondering about my safety and my sanity. The good time I was having was costing them plenty, and it was slowly becoming a not so good time. Much of my need for a good time came from insecurities and depression with which I was wrestling, and at the end of the day, fighting depression with a depressant is lose, lose every time. This was not the way I was thinking at the time, waking up most mornings feeling desperate, knowing I had never seen the color black in real life the way it looked to me when I closed my eyes, and wondering why all this was the way it was. All that to say I had a tenuous relationship with responsibility before we were given clearance to travel to China to adopt our first daughter…note of warning: if you struggle with using alcohol responsibly, Asia is not the region for you. China, for me, was a turning point in my struggle with stress and alcohol…not a good one.
Fast-forward two years, or so, from the day we got back from China and my life was getting no better; not that it needed to be better, I had, and still have, a great life (sorry if your life sucks and that came across as braggy) (sorry if that apology sounded dismissive and trite) (maybe it would help if I put the word “I’m” in front of the apology itself…but alas, who has the space or time) (am I right?). The way I was handling life sucked. I was living my life as though I was the only one who had to face the consequences of my miserable immaturity, and at home I had a wife and a daughter, and in China, in a group home, in Beijing, there was a little girl who knew nothing about me, but was counting on me to not screw up too badly…and here I was in a jail cell wondering if I had screwed up too badly…if it was all over. Here’s the hard part of the entire equation; I wasn’t living as though ignorant to the fact that my actions might catch up to me and someone else might have to suffer the consequences, I was, on some level, aware of the fact this was a possibility – but I felt if God wanted me to adopt a little girl…if he had involved a little girl in all of this, He would allow me a free pass in the interest of saving the girl. I was holding my daughter hostage…I was holding everyone I loved hostage. I don’t know if I realized this while waiting for my wife to bail me out, but it started there. Its hard to reach any sort of catharsis while incarcerated, there are no “Hang in There” posters with a little kitten struggling to keep hold of a tree branch to ground you, and help you remember “It’s gonna be okay kid, buck up”. It’s just you and your thoughts, and maybe – if you’re humble enough, a still, small, voice. I wasn’t. Kristy picked me up around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning. Kristy is the name of my wife.