Month: September 2013
The slight pop and scrape of the cork,
the carmel colored elixir
tumbling over thin cubes of ice
I could jump
in to that glass tonight
never to ever return
never to ever return
This week was difficult but there were more victories than defeats. Work got better. Our new schedule is working. I managed to get in a yoga class. My biggest defeat? I forgot my dad’s birthday. It was Wednesday and I didn’t remember until this morning. I feel like the world’s worst daughter. It doesn’t matter that for years, he was the world’s worst father. Sigh. Around 2:30, after our second lockdown drill, I found myself fighting a terrible battle internally. I wanted to drink. I didn’t want one. I wanted all of them. For hours, there were two minds duking it out in my head. The voice of the sullen, desperate alcoholic begged for one more release. One more. One more. One more. Just one more! She argued we could sneak off to the liquor store instead of a to meeting. She reasoned we could likely get the boy on board. She begged and pleaded. She yelled and screamed. It was a nuclear level threat in my head. It came on without warning.
The sober me, the real me, the me I am just getting to know, my Phoenix-self, who rose from the ashes of my alcoholic bullshit, told that other sad, pathetic me to stuff it over and over. 82 days. I am not giving in after 82 days. My 100 day ring on the mantle in a wrapped box. The bright, loving eyes of my children, always watching. Learning from my choices. Trusting me to take care of all of us. I went to my meeting. I listened. Sometimes, I just need to shut the fuck up and listen. Hard lessons…
But, I made it. Tomorrow, I will call my dad.
When I was a 17 year-old baby, feminist wannabe, I would take black eyeliner and scrawl words like, ‘slut,’ ‘bitch’ and ‘whore’ on my arms and (if I was feeling really brave) my legs. I would also pair baby doll dresses with ripped tights and knock-off Docs. It was the 90’s and I was playing a part in a fleeting, feminist cultural mini-moment called The Riot Grrrl Movement. I was probably too young to really understand the steeped in irony and anger mission and message of the movement (I am not really even sure that you could call it movement) but I wasn’t too young to feel the intense pain and power of those words. It was shocking but deliriously freeing to wear those words on my skin in full view (mostly to bookstores and Waffle House). It was a phase. The feminism and ‘fuck the rules’ attitude stayed but eyeliner became something regulated to eyes (thankfully) and although I did finally score some real Doc Martens, they now occupy a corner of a box in my closet.
I have been thinking a lot about that lonely, angry 17 year-old girl lately. Everything was so painful for her. Life was so very sharp and hiding and numbing, so very comforting. I was 17 when I discovered the fluffy, dulling effects of pot and alcohol (but mostly pot). I wish that girl would have had someone to illustrate the second and third act of that story. I wish someone would have told her that life was beautiful without all of that shit… But I don’t have a time machine and I know ‘should have’ is an epic waste of time.
What made me think specifically of my “Riot Grrrl” days was the very strong compulsion I have had lately to scrawl words on my arms and legs, this time in sharpie. Over the past few weeks, I have written, “Do the next right thing” across my wrists and “enough” on my ankle and the back of my hand. Is it my inner riot grrrl coming to the surface or my inner wounded teenager seeking solace and healing? Now instead of acting out, I am trying to take better care. I am trying to remember, not let go.
Today was a bit of a shit show. I am trying really, really hard at my job. I am being consistent and holding students accountable, per mandate from my administrator. I try to pretend that it is easy. I am trying to move forward and stay positive but the tapes in my head, the ones that tell me I am going to fail, that I am stupid for thinking I could do this job and that I am only working for a recommendation at the end of the year (because I am afraid I am going to be laid off or worse, fired) are playing on a relentless loop. Being a hard ass in the classroom means that not every student adores me. It means that not even every other student adores me. Being a drunk last year means that my administrator doesn’t fully trust my judgment and still wonders if I am going to revert to my flakey ways. It all means I am not PLEASING everyone AND I am shocked and disappointed at how sad and freaked out I am by that…
The writing. It all comes back to the writing. As a teenager, I wrote on my arms, in composition notebooks and on pieces of canvas to survive and process the horrors of my childhood and adolescence. As a woman, and especially a woman in recovery, I write to survive the horrors of my addiction to process the pain I have both suffered and caused via this disease. I write so as not to drink. I write to recover. I am writing here tonight so I can walk into the classroom tomorrow, head held high, possibly with sharpied arms, ready to keep trying and maybe even love myself and the world just a little bit more.
Maybe I should try tattoos next.
At the end (god, I hope it was the end) of my drinking, I developed a peculiar physical ailment. After I had had a few (daily) I often would lose my ability to literally grip things. At least twice a week, I would spill my beer, wine or bourbon (gasp!) on some unlucky piece of furniture or carpet. It was really weird. I would be fine one minute and my hands would just give up the next. (I know this might be some sort of medical red flag but I am pretending I don’t know that right now). It wasn’t just my grip, though. I would be walking down our stairs (and I am fucking terrified of stairs- that’s another post) and I could feel my body loosening and giving up. I was always about five seconds aways from rag doll on the floor. There were several symptoms that my body was really sinking into maybe late second or early third stage alcoholism- but this “letting go” was the most alarming.
I am very aware of my grip these days. I am hanging on tightly to everything. I am reminded each time I walk down the stairs, how close I was to losing hold of my physical and spiritual self. This scares the shit of me.
But I know I need to thread a balance between holding on (to my sobriety, sanity, self, teacup) and letting go (of the old tapes, my self loathing, shit I can’t change, my own bullshit). In a meeting the other day we discussed humility. I commented that we alcoholic/ addicts get a bad rap. We seem (and in part are) completely wrapped up in ourselves. Alcoholism lends itself to center of the universe syndrome and recovery is all about self-improvement and self-care. My feeling, however, is that recovery is the path to humility (that is why is late in the steps) and humility finding this balance of between holding on and letting go.
No one ever said this shit was going to be easy.