Did you know it’s possible to feel ashamed of feeling ashamed?
Well it is. A couple times, Vince and his friends came to St. Paul for the weekend and stayed with me. They brought everything one needs for an overnight:
And since I live in a nonsmoking building, they smoked out in front of the building, or took their home-rolled cigarettes and a cooler full of beer up to the roof and played poker up there. I would bring up a platter of food—hard boiled eggs, olive tapenade, crackers, some fruit—up to them but they wouldn’t touch it. Once I bought four kinds of sausages at Whole Foods, figuring they were meat eaters, but they wouldn’t touch them–too froo froo.
Vince took his shoes off inside my door, as he had been trained to do from childhood:
This is where the shame came in. Here I was, living in what was billed as a “luxury” apartment building, and my son wore shoes like this. And then I felt ashamed of feeling ashamed. Of being such a snob.
Whoa! Time for a cute kitten photo!
(Did I mention I do kitten fostering for the humane society?)
Anyway, another time we all went for sushi—Vince’s and my all-time favorite food. And he couldn’t eat it. He had to leave the table to be sick, and then I noticed that his abdomen was distended and my bubble of denial that he was “just drinking” was burst.
I had attended the family program at Hazelden, I knew the medical symptoms of chronic alcoholism, including liver disease.
A number of people have said to me that it must be kind of relief that Vince is in prison. At least I know where he is, he can’t drink or smoke, yatta yatta. Yeah, these things are true and they are good, although drugs and alcohol can be had, even in prison.
All I can do is keep my focus on myself—examining my embarrassment and guilt over that embarrassment, forgiving myself for being human, for having feelings, for having mixed feelings.