Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prompt 5.3. Alcohol, drugs and sex/ On the Couch

Congo collage

A number of years ago I went through a difficult time, Abby and I had broken up after our first time together and she was seeing someone else, and I wasn't handling it very well. I found myself thinking too much of the life I'd had with Danijela, and without even realizing it, I began comparing the success of my marriage, to the failures I seemed to experience when I ventured into relationships with first Carol and then Abby. I couldn't tell you exactly when it happened, but, somewhere in the midst of all of that I decided I didn't deserve to have anyone care about me anymore. I started drinking too much, living fast, sleeping around with different women, but, worst of all, my carelessness cost a patient his life, and it almost cost a medical student hers as well.

I woke up one morning and I realized that everything I thought I had was gone, gone or broken, and I knew I had to get away. I don't know that I consciously had a death wish when I went to the Congo, but, I do know that I was taunting it. In the beginning, even there I didn't change my behavior all that much. I would work 16 hours straight, then I would drink whatever was handy until my mind was numb before I would head for bed, and I rarely ended up there alone.

I'd lay awake in those early morning hours, and I would sometimes wonder what Danijela would think of me if she were to see the man I had become. The answer inevitably would lead me back into whatever bottle was closest because I had no doubt that I would disgust her, everything I'd become was what she'd been warned against in those earliest days of our relationship. I began to wonder why Gillian would want my company, until I realized she was just as lost as I was, she just hadn't recognized it in herself yet.

My capture by the Mai Mai and the murder of Patrique changed me, even now it's difficult for me to talk about. To know that Patrique forfeited his life to save mine, to know that Sakima put her life, and that of her daughter's at risk to protect me after all they had endured. I'm alive because they saw something of value in my life, something that I hadn't been able to see for far too long.

When John found the three of us in that windowless shack I was near death. I suffered from not just physical injuries inflicted during my captivity, but, the effects of dehydration, and malaria. While I didn't know it at the time, I found our later that he'd come to claim my body, somehow word had gotten back to County of my death, and he felt he owed it to me to bring me home.

Home. I had plenty of time to think about what I'd been doing with my life and what the future held for me as I recovered. I knew that I couldn't keep going the way I had been, Patrique had given his life for mine, Sakima had risked hers and her daughter's, I owed it to them to turn my life around. I couldn't undo the mistakes I'd made in the past, but I could do my best to make sure that no more lives were lost because of my carelessness, to make sure that no more innocents were hurt. Because they had seen the value in my life, I could once more become the man Danijela would have been proud to call her husband. I'd been given the chance to once more start over and I wasn't going to waste that gift.

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