“I Just Really Wish You’d Been Present”

On being called out for giving 45 percent

Andy Spears

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Photo by Steven Kamenar on Unsplash

We’d been on a hike the day before. Just out there. Crossing a creek, playing in it.

Then, I stood on the bank. Then, I asked if we were done here.

We played a bit more, then walked on.

Returned to a home, to an office, to a car — and to our trip.

The next day, I heard, “I really wish you’d been present yesterday. We were having fun. But you weren’t fully there.”

I responded that I appreciated the reality check. Appreciated that someone cared enough to call me out.

In reality, I was crying inside. In reality, I could not wait until I could get back to my own hotel room, back to a bottle of alcohol. Back to forgetting.

I knew what was meant — and I knew I had been absent — had been focused on the next day and the day after that.

And I knew that had I played — had I engaged — the next day would still have come.

Gripped by fear, I suppose. A worry that unless everything was just so, nothing would be ok.

But I was old enough — had seen enough — by then, to know that all would be fine no matter.

That was one of several wake up calls — reality checks — in a year full of them.

The year I decided that consuming alcohol was not a match for me.

It was in reading something from Dana Leigh Lyons that I thought of this day.

Of past inflictions, she says:

For me, this means looking straight on and going straight in with as much clarity and honesty as I have for now. A clarity and honesty that will continue evolving and be ever unfinished. From this place, I take accountability. From this place, I apologize and make amends where I can and where doing so won’t cause more harm — taking care not to dredge up their wounds on my timeline just so I can breathe easy.

To me, this is about being fully present.

I was not present on that day — not on the day on the hike nor on the next day when my behavior was called out.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .