On the Road that Led to You: A Moment with Bill Reflection
We were sitting in the backyard, listening to music and hanging with our critters, when one of my all-time favorite songs came on….”When You’ve Only Got 100 Years To Live” by Five for Fighting. I’ve included the video of that song for you to listen to while I share my version of that song with you.
I was planning on telling you that the song was the inspiration for this piece of creative writing but in truth, my wife Bev is that inspiration. This song simply awakened deep feelings that I have for this beautiful woman.
With that introduction out of the way, I invite you to follow along “On the Road that Led to You.”
Eighteen and Clueless
Full of piss and vinegar at eighteen, pushing the limits at a break-neck speed, looking for answers, rejecting many of them, clueless and yet filled with ego and unwilling to listen to reason. So many say “oh, to be that age again,” but in truth I wouldn’t want to be. It was exciting, for sure, but also painful and frightening. The freedom a child fights so hard for comes with a price, and that price must be paid. The bumps and bruises to the exterior cannot come close to the interior wounds, and until we lick those wounds and figure it out, we will be the human equivalent of a pin ball bouncing off the cushions, ringing those bells, being pounded by the flippers, ringing up the score but terrified that we’ll slip into oblivion, never to be seen or heard from again.
Was I ready for you at eighteen? Not even close, darling. Not even close. How could I give love to another when I didn’t understand the implications of that love? How could I give of myself when I didn’t know who I was? I had too much to do. I had mountains to climb and personal valleys to cross. I needed to live. I needed to win. I needed to lose.
Twenty-eight and in over My Head
Married? What the hell? Step-children? What the hell? Responsibilities and mortgages and bills piling up? What the hell? Talk about clipping the wings of a majestic bird and watching him flounder by the side of the road….that’s what it felt like. The loss of a freedom so hard-earned, settling into a routine of earning, paying, building, pushing for more, an endless race on a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast and so damn eager to get there.
Let’s be honest here. I should have never gotten married at twenty-eight, Bev. I had no clue, no instruction manual and no tools to work with. One day I’m hanging with friends drinking beers and the next I’m buying a home for an instant family, my head spinning and my heart racing, the fear threatening to completely derail me in a train wreck of epic proportions. I was scared shitless, and I know now that the fear was born from feelings of inadequacy. I was a self-fulfilling prophecy, the embodiment of the old axiom you are what you think, and I thought I wasn’t cut out for that kind of responsibility and be damned if I didn’t prove myself to be a prophet.
Was I ready for you then, Bev? Oh thank your stars you didn’t know me then, darling, because I was a mess. I appeared to be all right because I was the consummate actor, but inside my guts were roiling and I was turbulence personified. Ego prevented me from asking for help, and most days were spent just trying to convince myself that I had what it took to survive.
Thirty-eight and Feeling the Pain
But even the greatest actors reach that point in their careers when they don’t remember their lines, forget their cues and miss their marks, and for this actor it came in my late thirties. I finally arrived at the truth, and yes, the truth was painful, and I ran from it so very hard, arms pumping, legs churning, my lungs in pain from the intake and outtake, days passing by in a blur, lies begetting lies until the truth became a fog bank in which clarity was constantly veiled.
I knew I was in trouble, Bev, but knowing it and seeking help are alternate universes in the galaxy of life…and so I drank, and drank some more, and I substituted false courage for the truth, the truth that I was just a frightened little child in an adult’s body and I had lost my way.
Thank God you didn’t know me then, Bev, for you are goodness, and you would have tried to save me, and in trying I would have dragged your goodness through the mud and infected you with the death of spirit that threatened to consume me.
But it didn’t consume me, Bev. I wouldn’t allow it to, and even though there was more pain to come, self-awareness, and lessons learned as a young child, allowed me to begin the long road back to sanity.
Forty-eight and the First Sight of the Light
Every morning it happens. The darkness, which seems to be perpetual, slowly gives way to a sliver of light, and as the minutes tick by that sliver broadens until the darkness is forgotten and the warmth of the sun envelopes us.
A metaphor for me at forty-eight, Bev. I still wasn’t ready to meet you but I was oh so close. I knew I had a problem and I was seeking help. I was taking on the gargantuan task of reaching my arm out in hopes that someone would grasp my hand to give me assistance. I swallowed my pride, shrunk my ego, and admitted to God and everyone that I was imperfect and afraid. I grabbed a rusty knife and began peeling away the diseased skin of my past. Oh my God it was painful, and there were days I just wanted to toss it all away for the brief respite that one drink would give me….and I slipped on occasion, but the slips decreased in importance and length, for I could see the light then, Bev, a light I thought was extinguished inside of me but wasn’t…and I wanted that light, Bev, I wanted it so damned bad….
So one step in front of the other. One building block on top of another. Re-learn how to live. Re-learn how to be me. Re-learn how to love myself and by extension, others.
Re-learn to be Bill Holland.
Fifty-eight and Finding My Salvation
Why struggle if there is no reward? I will readily admit that I need a brass ring, something to grasp hold of and declare as my bounty for a job well-done.
I had paid my dues and I needed a pat on the back. I had come back from the living dead and now it was my turn to dance with reckless abandon and embrace happiness….but one thing was missing….one person….
You are my reward, Bev.
You are my prize.
I finally got it right, babe, and as the tears fall upon the keyboard, I give you my heart….I give you my love….I give you all of me.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)