Here’s my tattoo. I got it almost two years ago. I had quit drinking (again), it had been thirty days, and this time I meant it. My oldest son was seventeen at the time and he was interested in tattoos and we had been talking about them. My standard response to the kids whenever they would ask about the subject was “I spent six years in the navy, I’ve been around the world, and if I didn’t get inked then – I’m not getting inked now”.
Needless to say my new found sobriety along with this new curiosity put an idea in my head. I searched obsessively (as I tend to do everything) for a design and eventually started to find elements of some that I liked but none that I was ready to commit to. I eventually designed this one myself and decided to have it done. Here is the description of it that I put in the journal for the artist at her shop: “Wolf paw with an eye and compass: The wolf theme signifies strength, dignity and solidarity with my family and my wife. The compass (made by trees and little paws) signifies a new direction in my life. The eye beneath my foot signifies an old friend and lover of whom I am afraid and need to hold down as well as keep an eye on. The cub paws are, of course, my 3 kids for whom I am grateful and proud.”
Not bad, right? A permanent reminder of the things in my life that matter most and why I had chosen to stop drinking. Of course the ink had barely dried before I entered back in to the cycle that is my curse. It goes something like this:
- I miss drinking at parties. If I just drink beer and only at parties, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be just fine.
- I’ve been doing fine at parties, I’ll just buy some beer to have for after kids go to bed or for when friends drop by. That should be just fine.
- I wish I could have a whiskey once in a while, if I just have one cocktail and then stick to beer, I’m sure I’ll be fine.
- Wow – you really pissed me off, I can’t believe you didn’t listen to me. How could you just ignore what I want? I’ll show you – I’m going to sit on the couch and get drunk. Leave me alone. I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
and so it goes. Until I’m buying a liter every other day and monitoring it so that I make sure it lasts two days. I can do nothing else but drink. My wife is disappointed, my kids are scared, and I’m unhappy enough to consider leaving. But I don’t. I get back on the wagon and I swear that this’ll be the last time. I’m sure I’ll be just fine.