Addiction and Cerebral Palsy: Enchant Christmas

The field was filled with lights. It was Christmas time and we were standing in the home of the Seattle Mariners. Walking along the main concourse, the entire field could be seen. The Christmas tree, constructed of only lights, stood above the maze of activities. There was so much excitement to explore. We made our way through the people and booths, until reaching the area, that during the summer months, would have placed us behind home plate. There was a platform set up for everyone to take in the entire scene. Before walking, down the stairs and onto the surface of T-Mobile Park. We stepped onto the field and were engulfed in a sea of lights and things to see. Around each corner was something exciting to be experienced. From animals to trains to gift boxes, sparkling with the lights that outlined their shape. As I walked through the magical seen, I had no idea what the night would bring. Enjoying the spirit of Christmas, surrounded by more lights than I had ever seen. After soaking in the magic, we had somewhere else to visit, inside the stadium. High above the playing surface was a café, spanning the length of right field. During the summer months, fans sit up there, behind the windowed façade, eating dinner and watching the game. On that night, it was set up with a buffet dinner. Something that I didn’t know, while standing amongst the Christmas lights, looking up at the windows. The upcoming dinner would be another pivot point, in a life changing year.   

Walking into the café, high above the Christmas lights, was exciting. The long table full of delicious food was running away from the entrance. The most anticipated moment of my night upon us. I was going to be required to ask for help with the collecting of my dinner. Without having been in a similar situation with the lady I was with. It was another of the moments in life, I wish I could have wished my disability away, if only for a few minutes. Dreaming intensely of the ability to grab a plate and walk through the line of food, like anyone else. But, that dream wouldn’t be in the cards for my life. So, I ask her to help me with the buffet line. And, as if I were asking her to pass me a napkin sitting right in front of her, she said, no problem. As we traversed the table of food, she was patient and kind. Checking in with me at each new dish and filling my plate with a comfortable ease that I could feel. It truly appeared to be, no problem. We walked down a couple stanzas of stairs and found a high table. Our view was unobstructed, through a floor to ceiling window. We began to eat an amazing meal, as the conversation flowed effortlessly. Looking out the window every now and then, taking in the happy faces moving about, experiencing the wonder of the Christmas season. Little did I know, a defining moment was coming, just around the next corner.

There was something said during that meal. Inside one of my favorite places in the world. I love going to Mariner games that provide the backdrop to our Seattle summers. But now, we were in the midst of the holiday season. The baseball field, usually covered in the summer sun and sparkling green grass. Was lit up with all the trapping of the magical time of year. The night would go down as one of the best of my life. But, not for the reasons I was hoping, when I was picking her up earlier that evening. Sitting at the dinner table, somewhere in the middle of working on my chicken, she said, I have heard you can get angry. While, that might not have been the exact quote, the inquiry remains the same. At the time, the question didn’t get much of a reaction from myself. And to tell you the truth, I don’t even remember responding. However, the question had an impact that stays with me to this day. I don’t know if the moment will truly ever leave my consciousness. I would learn later, in conversation with others, the absolute courage it took to ask the question. And years later, I would tell her as much, thanking her for helping me along a necessary path. My first thought wasn’t to ask from where the information had come. It didn’t seem to matter who had brought up the concern. To me, the most important part of the question, was the concern surrounding it. 

There seems to be a fair amount of risk in bringing up such a topic. The conversation, and for that matter, the night could have gone any number of directions from that moment. How do you gain the courage to ask someone who has an anger issue about their anger issue? Personally, I have no idea. The moment could have led to a confrontation. I could have immediately gotten upset and stormed off. There could have been unpleasant words exchanged, or I could have demanded where the info originated. None of these possibilities even came close to transpiring. But, on the other hand, in the moment, I didn’t find the strength to own up to my struggles. Leaving no room for a conversation that could have gotten us to a better place. At that time in life, I wasn’t ready to take ownership and start the work. So, shock and surprise might be the best descriptions of what happened in my mind. I’m thankful for the courage she had to ask the question. The trust she must have felt in me, believing the evening wouldn’t spin out of control. However small the trust in me might have been, it was something for me to build upon. It didn’t only take courage to bring up my anger, it took care. I remember holding back on any response to the question. Maybe the surprise of the moment left me with nothing to say. Looking back on it weeks later, I was happy with my inclination not to press for information. The biggest factor was the need for the question. Something about my behavior had gone down a wrong track. My anger was no longer being concealed inside my family of origin.

We enjoyed the remainder of our evening together. Walking down to the field below after eating dinner. The time had run out to try some ice skating. Which, didn’t bother me in the slightest. Ice skating was something I had never attempted. With my cerebral palsy and the balance challenges the disability presents. Who knows how skating would have gone. But, I was ready to give it a try and was kind of curious over how it would have felt. With the possibility of ice skating behind us, we walked through the lights. It was fun taking our time to experience everything there was to see. We found tiles on the floor that lit up with each step and stood inside the tallest of the trees on the field. Looking up to see each of the spirals of lights, used to shape the tree. The circles of light got smaller and smaller as they climbed toward the stadium roof. The scene set up on the baseball field provided a holiday spirit I have rarely been engulfed inside. We meandered through the lights, until the night came to a close. Walking out into the late December night and beginning the drive home. The night was another step in a journey which hadn’t begun. At that time in life, I was continuing to deny the reason for my challenges. 

There are moments in my life that live on. Most days struggle to hold happenings that would qualify as eventful. The night at Enchant Christmas was the second pivotal day in less than a year. The evening arriving only six-months after I had been in La Grande and yelled for the first time in the middle of a golf swing. My anger had come into focus for people who were and remain important to my life. It would have been easy to explain away, blame something else for the golf course outburst. I could have pressed for the origin point of the information shared at the Christmas dinner. Blaming it on someone for sharing something that seemed private. Questioning why they didn’t just confront me with the concerns. But, in thinking over those concepts, the events of the night came from the most ideal person. Someone who had the ability to stop me in my tracks. Someone I could not brush aside the opinion of, no matter the opinion. Even with these two events happening within six-months of each other. The true recognition of an issue wouldn’t take place for some time. The practice of denial can be a powerful tool. It helped me spend years covering up my challenges with sexual fantasy. Causing me to feel like my fantasizing and pornography use couldn’t be the real problem. I have cerebral palsy and I felt, it caused rejection from any true attention of a female. The view was incredible short sided and unfair. Someone was telling me they cared enough to challenge my actions. It was a major piece of the puzzle, pointing towards facing my darkest insecurities.  

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