“I Just Really Wish You’d Been Present”

On being called out for giving 45 percent

Andy Spears


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.



Andy Spears

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