< Chapter 4:5 Chapter 4:7 >
Year two in sobriety was filled with adventure, growth and major change also. It was suggested to me early in my sobriety that I engage in, “No relationships in your first year”. Well, out of that fear I spoke of earlier, I followed that suggestion very closely. But when year two came around, it was time. My year was over and I was ready. In hindsight, I see so clearly why that is such a huge suggestion for people who are trying to get sober to avoid relationships. First off, you truly do not know who you are. You are rediscovering all that you have buried under layers of self-deception and distorted perceptions of who you are, and also what other people are about.
As we headed into 1991, Toyz had decided to bring the band to an end. The fire had created major change in all of our lives and put a strain on us; mentally, emotionally and financially. We had taken out loans to replace the $50,000 in equipment we had lost, and there was no end in sight to the lawsuit we were involved in with the club’s insurance company. We still had a lot going for us, we were the top drawing bar band in central PA, and were beginning to write some great original material. But the economic strains that were placed on everyone because of the loans made a lot of the members want to play it safe. Some went from a commitment to do whatever it took to make it as an original act, to wanting to play the same bars for the next 15 years just to pay off the loan.
That was something that I just could not do. My dream, the only thing that got me through jail, and rehab, the driving force to getting me sober was my music. And I was not willing to see myself turning into a 40-year-old wedding band singer. Nothing against anyone who is, for me, I was committed to realizing my dream. So we decided that July 3, 1991 was going to be our last public performance and that a wedding reception for two very dear friends in August being our final show.
As the end of Toyz grew closer I began searching for something, without realizing it, to fill the void that was going to be left when it all ended. I realize in hindsight, that when I got sober, a major change for me was that I turned a lot of the energy and focus that I used running from life into the band. The band was my life. I lived, and breathed the band. I would get up early and go to bed late to make sure it grew. It was my sole reason for living at that point of my life.
It was a project that started by accident and took on a life of its own. For the 3 years, it was my life. It grew and became a part of everything I believed I was. It grew, and I followed it and nurtured it along the way. We broke club attendance records, were drawing top dollar and living the life of local celebrities. I would drop by the local radio stations and be on as a guest DJ to do “countdowns” and promotions. It was an amazing time. Even with the fire. Our commitment to continue after the fire would have most people thinking that we were madmen, we only ever missed one show, and that was the night the club burned down. The very next night, we had borrowed the equipment we needed to perform our next show. We never stopped. Until Dec of 1990 when we decided to end it all. Toyz truly was what I had focused all of my energy on since getting sober.
This decision was made when I was just over a year sober. Life, in essence, was still a mystery to me. You don’t realize how much of a mystery until you have time to reflect. I was looking everywhere to try and understand more about what was happening around me and also looking to define more of who I was. Imagine living over half of your life in a state of constant anger. Hiding everything you feel from everyone. Not showing any true emotion. Imagine everything in your life being a façade. Then, all of a sudden, you are in a position where, for you to even survive, you MUST share yourself with other people. Do you think that when you start a major change like this that it may be a challenge? I know that it was for me.
I had lived behind a wall of lies for so long, that I truly had gotten to the point where I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had told so many stories to cover up what was going on inside, that I began to believe them myself. One of the things we will discuss later is how your mind can’t tell the difference between what is real, and what is vividly imagined. And that was exactly where I was. There were some areas of my life where it took years of deep self exploration for me to finally be able to say to myself, and others, “You know what, that wasn’t really what happened.” Getting sober for me and for many people is a major change of how you live every aspect of your life and a constant effort to become more and more honest. Honest with yourself as well as others.
So as the band was preparing to break up, I was again losing my “crutch”. As I look back, I can see that there was a terrible fear inside of me. It was a fear that I was going to lose my Identity. I had tied who and what I was to being the lead singer in Toyz. But at the same time, I was still trying to find my true Identity. Through a process of recovery, all the things that I had believed in for the past 17 years were being torn down and rebuilt day by day.
In April of 1991, I met the woman who would become the first woman I attempted to have a sober relationship with, and who would also become the mother of my daughter. I’m not sure what drew me to her. She came to one of our shows, and we locked eyes, and something drew me to want to know more. We began seeing each other, and I started to focus all of my attention on her. Looking at it in hindsight, I’m sure that because I was looking to use my relationship with her to replace the band, I ended up smothering her.
Up until this point, I lived by a major rule when it came to relationships. That rule was that I would never seriously date anyone I met while we were playing. Yes, I went out for one night rendezvous with groupies. And yes, I had some female friends who I hung out with that followed the band. But I would not get into a committed relationship with anyone I met while we were performing. At that time, there was a persona that I portrayed on stage, and it was very different from who I was at my core. We were a high energy, visual band. We used lights, attitude, and choreography, all the things that made a rock band exciting in the late 80’s. Off stage, I was very quiet. I was focusing on sobriety. My main concern was finding peace within my surroundings and myself, and learning about who I was. In the club I personified the rock and roll image, minus the alcohol. And outside the club, I would spend days just riding my motorcycle on country roads and going to AA meetings.
She was a single mother living a quiet country life, and I was a “rock star”. I believe that she was looking at the party and the glitz, and I was looking at the peace and family ideal that she represented. The relationship was an adventure in learning from my perspective. For the past 17 years, all I had focused on was how to hide my own feelings. I had no experience in being open in sharing them with someone else, and even less in being concerned about, or trying to understand anyone else’s.
I am sitting here now as I write this thinking that it’s kind of ironic that one of the things I teach people is how to ask specific questions that allow you to better understand what drives a person. Learning what their emotional reasons are for doing what they do. Helping them to better communicate and better understand each other. And I can see as I look back, that understanding that level of communication is a major change from where I was then. I didn’t have any of those skills at that time. And even more than not having the skills, I didn’t care about any of those things. Even though I was about a year and a half sober, most of my attention was still focused on what I wanted and needed.
As you can guess, a relationship like that was not going to last very long. Soon after the band broke up, so did we. And it came about in a very messy way. I also have to say that as we progressed in the relationship, we found out that what we each had thought we were attracted to, was more of an ideal than the reality of who we each were.
I have since learned over the years, the importance of clear communication. First and foremost, with yourself. If you aren’t certain in yourself who you are and what you need, how can you communicate it to someone else? And even more, if you aren’t clear on who you are, how can you expect to understand the complexities of another human being? Again, now I understand why they were preaching “No relationships in the first year”. I barely knew how to deal with my own emotions, my own search for an identity, let alone try to understand someone else’s.
Well it wasn’t long before our communication broke down, I stopped going to meetings and seeking the support of other sober people because the girl I was seeing drank. How would the others in the meetings understand? Going through this kind of major change without having people to look to for sober guidance, I became totally confused. Here I was in my first real relationship and I had no understanding how to ride the waves of two people in an intimate relationship. And the illusions that we had both “fallen in love with” were starting to unravel quickly.
Now I know that in every relationship, there are two sides. I can only give you mine. I am not looking to be the villain, or the martyr. What I have learned in this life is that the only perception I can share is my own.
About a month after the band had broken up, we were having a lot of difficulty. She wanted to go out and party with her friends, and I was not willing to be a part of it. And at the same time, she wasn’t willing to be with my friends, so a rift began. Have you ever been in a relationship, where you just couldn’t figure out what the other person wanted? They told you one thing, but were always doing another? Well, that is what I felt. And looking back, I also have to take into account that I was scared, and wasn’t certain about what I wanted or needed either. The band had broken up. I had made this woman, or the ideal that I had created of this woman my new obsession. But at the same time, I knew that I had to stay sober.
We finally had a falling out where I was in a place of total confusion, not understanding how people communicate, and fell into some very damaging habits for a relationship. I decided that I was right, and I was going to prove to her how messed up she was. I won’t go into details, but in trying to prove how right I was, I violated her trust and destroyed our relationship.
It was a little over a month later when I heard from her again. I still remember the phone call. I woke up to Lori’s voice on the other end of the phone, and the words ringing out. “I need to talk to you. I’m pregnant”. There was silence on my end. With that phone call my life would be in for a major change.
< Chapter 4:5 Chapter 4:7 >
The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from Major Change Comes In Year Two