Feelings can be so intense. This morning I was supposed to take my son fishing on a charter out of Menemsha harbor. I woke at 6:30, made coffee, prepared lunch and snacks, and got him up for the adventure. We walked down to the appointed meeting point, the Menemsha Texaco, arriving at 7:50. Plenty of time to grab an extra snack and a T shirt for the boy who was wearing a sweatshirt with nothing underneath in August. Plenty of time to catch the boat.
My wife had made the arrangements and we’d been told to meet at the Texaco. As the clock neared 8:00, the time to shove off, I started to wonder where everyone was, when the owner of the boat was going to show up. I knew that I should have started asking questions but my social anxiety got the better of me.
They will show up I kept thinking. It’s island time. No big deal. Until I saw the boat pulling away and said, “we just missed our boat.” That’s when the woman who organizes the trips emerged from behind the Texaco and said, “I’m sorry, we were waiting for you.”
I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t have a cell phone to call the captain. Apparently he didn’t have one either because when I offered mine she didn’t respond. A friendly man, said he’d radio the boat but the news was not good. The captain wasn’t coming back. The woman said, “we’re just getting started, how could I have avoided this?” I suggested that perhaps a sign, clearer directions to the boat beyond meet at the Texaco, and perhaps making a call out that the boat was leaving might be helpful.
Mr. Grey and I started walking home. And then the feelings hit.
Failure. Shitty father. Idiot. Dumbass. You fuck everything up. You let down the ones you love the most.
The same feelings that I used to have when I was drinking. Only now there isn’t anything to numb the pain. No escape hatch. Just have to sit with them.
My son is more forgiving than I am. He asked me to take him fishing when we get home. And I will. And still, I have a hard time forgiving myself.
I know that in the grand scheme of things missing a fishing charter is nothing compared to being the drunk dad that I once was, destined to die early in life. And yet, I still feel like I failed today.
I’m going to try to shake this off. I’m going to offer myself metta — loving kindness. I’m going to do my best to let go of this. As Pema Chödrön says, “don’t bite the hook.”