The day she was born was one of the greatest days of my life. Even before her birth, we formed an inseparable bond—I would do anything for her. She was my greatest joy.
However, I had begun to sink into a prison of darkness that I was completely unaware of. Joy would be my saving grace—joy that would give me reason to succeed and not fail. A joy that I would never do anything to destroy. At least that was my intention. I found myself divorced a year and a half later and relegated to part-time status with my greatest joy. That is when I began to drink my greatest joy into my biggest regret.
Before she came into my life I only drank on weekends and holidays. Normal, I thought (even though I drank to excess each time.) Those occasions became less and less about family, football, or the holidays and more and more about the booze.
Then came the divorce, my jumping-off point. I was only able to be with my greatest joy a few days during the week and every other weekend. I had not figured on that.
When I was without her I was lonely, confused, and heartbroken. I sought out companionship in the only social realms I knew: alcohol and a bar. After three to four years of this, I drank on most days I was alone. I had no idea at the time that I was an alcoholic.
I was doing all I could to stop the pain and shame. I had no self-worth whatsoever. The pain was slowly killing me from the inside. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that alcohol is cunning, baffling, powerful. For me, that was definitely true.
The last year of my drinking it completely overtook my life. I missed forty-seven days of school before Spring Break and didn’t care whether I was fired at my job or not. My finances fell into complete disarray. I hurt my children, family, friends as they all watched me slowly slip into a man they did not know and close to death. All of these are regrets that I carry with me.
But the biggest regret is letting alcohol come between me and my baby girl, the joy who I had thought I would never have done anything to destroy.
There I was, in full-destruction mode. Staying drunk became more important than my little girl. I would make excuses to not see her on my visitation days. It is a choice to this day that I cannot believe I made.
However, I made drinking the center of my life, and my greatest joy had now become my greatest regret.
In March of 2014 I finally had enough and agreed to go to rehab. I have to give credit to my brother Kerry, who was the driving force in getting me the help I needed. I went to Valley Hope in Cushing, OK. and it was my lifesaver.
While in rehab I learned some things: I had lost my home, my car, and possibly would lose my job. But the absolute knockout punch was learning that I had lost the rights to see or contact my little girl. Drinking had cost me everything, even my greatest joy. How could I go on? How was I to even care?
At my lowest point I did all I could think to do and I cried out to God for help. I had left God years earlier when God had called me to go to college to become a youth minister, but the fact is God hadn’t left me at all.
I got the call back into my life. With God leading—and the help of AA—I began to fight to relearn how to think, act, and behave.
What I found out shocked me . . .
The drinking itself had not been the problem, it was just a symptom of my brokenness.
I had to learn to cope and deal with real life one day at a time. Learning sobriety is a lifelong process that I am grateful to be a part of. I never stop growing and learning how to be the best ME who I can be. The regrets are real, but they aren't worth drinking over. The regrets are only memories to remind me and motivate me. The regrets, surprisingly, have become the source of truth.
I am somebody. I am fulfilling my purpose. The promises really do come true, some quickly and some slowly.
When it comes to my baby I still have so much fear—fear of not fighting hard enough, fear of not pursuing her through a court battle, fear of conflict with my ex-wife (one of my triggers to drink), and the greatest fear: that my little girl would forget me.
At times, these fears and regrets still overwhelm me. But there's a piece of wisdom I own today that I didn't before: I know the solution!
All my fear and regret is based in selfishness. As long as I hold onto some of it then I can feed my insecurity and ego. I suppose it gives me an imagined control over the situation. I must practice acceptance and let go of fear. I must rely on God and AA, and remember that when I seek to control outcomes, it’s always a devastating mess.
I will no longer allow my fear to keep my greatest joy hostage. I must surrender everything and let my God flip this fear into victory for us both.
It's been two years now since I have seen my little girl. She is eight now. I know God is working in and through me. I am no longer angry or resentful.
The raw truth is that I was the one who created the chasm between us. I pray daily for her healing and that God surrounds her with care and love.
My greatest joy is still my greatest joy. She is the fuel to my purpose. She is my angel.
I remember my joy daily. And I try not to forget that regret one day will become joy again.
About the Author
Kip Shubert maintains the website Serenity Road. He dedicates his recovery to reaching out to others. In sharing his hope, he finds (like most people following a Twelve Step program) that he helps himself too. He shares that, "When you take your first step in recovery, you begin a path down Serenity Road. The journey is unique, challenging, and can be difficult." His site is an outreach "to provide support, guidance and inspiration in recovery."