The Tin Man

"You have a good heart, Nicholas.
That doesn't change."

– Delilah, Everything Must Go (Will Farrell Movie)

Tonight we watched 'Everything Must Go' starring Will Farrell. I've seen it before, drunk on the couch, and I believe I passed out before the ending, last time. It felt like I was watching it for the first time, tonight.

Apologies in advance as this post is a little all over the place, tonight, but my heart has advised me we won't sleep again tonight unless I set this free. It's not intended as a 'poor me' post, but I need to document a little revelation about how and why I've been feeling like I have been.

That one leading quote in this post just glued itself to my heart and soul about 45 minutes ago. A broken alcoholic, talking to a girl from high school he hasn't seen in over 20 years, diminished by his shortcomings and struggling to find his footing at absolute rock bottom. Feeling unworthy and looking for some reassurance that he does, after all, have value.

I didn't understand until tonight (quite accidentally) that I've been questioning the integrity of my heart.

I've been wondering if I'm actually a good person, or have just been masquerading as one all this time. At some point, the image I have of myself transformed into some avant-garde piece of sculpture made up of tin cans and found objects - hollow and pieced together with good intentions and garbage, held up by two crutches: one of all my failures and the other my bad decisions. 

I so easily forget all the good things I've done, but keep a very orderly list of every time I've let someone down, myself included.

I regret so badly everything surrounding "The Horrible Awful" (a post that may never make it to this blog, but is where the photo "Broken" came from) that happened last April – a turning point in my life, but branded forever on my heart, as it very well should be.

"You've ruined everything. You've taken absolutely everything from me. You're a horrible, horrible person." 

It's hard to forget the events surrounding and leading up to it, and impossible to forget hearing those words. Harder still because they've woven themselves around my heart and ever since, my heart looks different to me.

Thank you, alcohol, for holding my hand on that Choose-Your-Own-Adventure chapter of my life where I chose every wrong page possible.

Prior to that, the collection of disappointments I began hoarding in my business, in The Drawing Hope Project, in even the simplest of tasks and my marriage. Disappointing my family, pushing away my friends, ruining work partnerships and taking everything for granted because I'd rather be drunk and not think about it. Forgoing life-changing opportunities because the bottle couldn't come along with me.

"You have a good heart, Nicholas. That doesn't change."

I absolutely needed to hear that today.

Because I'm realizing today that it is such a huge part of what has led me here, what threw me into a deep depression, what accelerated my drinking to exponential and unsafe levels, and why I've been crying non-stop for the last 12 months.

I've been grieving (what I thought was) the loss of my heart which I always sincerely believed was, indeed, good. 

And it is.

That doesn't change.

Our choices do. Our circumstances do. The consequences do. But do you believe people are born with a good heart, or a bad heart? Can people change what type of soul they've been given? Is this a Grinch Who Stole Christmas situation?

Or do we just end up pushing our heart aside, listening to the addiction instead, beating so loudly you can't hear anything else? 

"I was standing over there, rusting for the longest time." – The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

I have spent so long thinking mine had actually changed - and that I was, as I was told, a bad person. That has multiplied my grief into feeling absolutely worthless and like an awful person with a black heart – on top of feeling overwhelmingly guilt-ridden. I've been feeling like an impostor, when all along I've been a drunk with a good heart, submerged so deeply in wine and addiction I couldn't see it anymore.

I feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, searching for his heart. 

Tap away at me and you'll hear the echo – that recurring, hollow absence reminding me that something is missing. Over and over again, bouncing around my insides, searching but finding nothing.

"As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable" – The Wizard of Oz, to the Tin Man

I am hoping that as the fog continues to clear while I am here in recovery, I will discover my good heart is still there and has been all along.

It's still the same heart, just made more beautiful by being broken.

“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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