I stand in faith. Call me crazy. Really don’t care.
In 2016, over a three month period, I lost my job, broke up with my boyfriend, and had my house saturated in an eight hour unchecked cascade of water from a busted pipe on the second floor.
The house. If I were to look back and choose a moment in time that triggered my astonishing fall from grace (and I use the word ‘grace’ loosely here), the house flooding would be that moment. I had worked so hard for that house. As a single woman, I bought a house and it was the highlight and crowning achievement of my life after The Great Divorce of 2012.
It was something I never thought I’d do. I had been told as much, in fact. Me? A college drop-out loser who never would amount to anything? I had purchased a beautiful home? All by myself?
The success of it was dizzying.
The morning the house flooded, I called the water mitigation company and a guy arrived promptly an hour later. It wracked my already twitching nerves how quietly he surveyed the damage, only muttering three times, “Oh my God.” Finally he looked me in the eye and said solemnly, “I’m going to have to call my boss. This is some Katrina style shit.” You might say his delivery was a little insensitive, but in fact, his statement was validating.
It confirmed something I’d suspected my entire life, it seems. I was cursed. The Universe was conspiring against me.
I blamed forces unseen, and leaned heavily on my friend, Vodka, to hobble through my unraveling existence.
In May of 2017 I realized my ‘friend’ Vodka had become a toxic salve for all of the anxiety, depression, and fear that ailed me. Both aggravating and assuaging it. A vicious cycle.
Happy hours devolved into happy days…happy mornings…happy middle of the nights. A shot to stave off panic attacks. That were exacerbated by alcohol. And relieved by it.
And I should mention that by happy I mean sobbing. Snotty sobbing.
Lather, rinse, repeat…
In retrospect, this is how my Spiritual Awakening began…
At the end of May, three years ago, I asked the kids’ Dad to take them while I sought help. Sure, I always had a sober roommate and I had supportive friends who propped me up and assisted my family in a waging war against what appeared to be my imminent slide into the abyss…but I finally realized that the kids’ Mom was not okay. And they needed their Mom to be okay.
I was not a belligerent asshole, but I was not attentive, and I was perpetually sad and paralyzed with fear.
I knew asking for help and relinquishing parenting time would seal the deal on what had been a years long fraught co-parenting relationship, but I also knew I was not able to shake this booze thing on will-power alone, and the kids’ deserved better.
And, what I didn’t realize at the time, I deserved better, too.
I was living a reactionary life. Constantly deflecting, adjusting to, defending against, fighting with, whatever life ‘threw’ down the pike at me.
Whatever torment the Universe conspired to send my way. Oh woe is me.
I was a victim. Ahem. I know now, that was my choice.
But, I did right by our children and asked their Dad to take them while I sorted myself out. No one told me to do it and I am proud of that. Honestly, I wouldn’t do it any differently even for everything I know now.
I wish I could say I dove headlong into recovery, but that was not the case. I had not fallen apart enough. Without the kids to keep me even moderately in check, I teetered on the edge…
My mental health was not to be restored with once a week hour-long counseling sessions, and that was all I managed to procure.
Not having the kids around to, however pathetically, thread the pile of quilt swatches I called life together, well, sometimes I would be too drunk to get to the clinic for my appointment.
I believed I had no reason to live.
Still, I never gave up seeking more intense treatment. And self-advocating when you’re feeling as dark as I was is not for the faint of heart. Fighting for your life when you don’t want to live…therein lies the dilemma.
I’m not sure how I kept at it. I also cannot tell you how often I heard some variation of…”You still work? You have a place to live? You haven’t committed a crime? I’m sorry, you aren’t bad enough. We have so many people waiting for a bed here.”
Not bad enough? It wasn’t bad enough that I’d lost my will to live?
“Do you have the means to harm yourself right now? Are you going to do anything right now?”
But I thought about it. Every second, of every hour, of every day.
I wanted to be gone.
But that wasn’t ‘bad enough’ to warrant clinical care.
Challenge accepted…Historically I’ve shied away from challenges, this one I embraced like a teddy bear.
“Did you just down your Prozac with Vodka?”
“Jesus, that’s both hilariously bad-ass and unbelievably sad.”
It was 9AM.
I was never without loving and supportive friends. Deservedly so because deep inside, there was a light. And no matter how I tried I couldn’t distinguish it. And no matter how I tried, others still recognized it in me. I am eternally grateful to them now.
One day I woke up in the back of my jeep, my neck sore from sleeping with my head on a spare tire. My hands trembling as withdrawal crept in. An empty bottle of McCormick’s next to me, though I was able to shake out a few last drops.
I turned on the car to check the time. It was 5 something.
I didn’t know if it was PM or AM.
I was parked on a quiet side street.
Turns out it was 5PM. The liquor store was still open. At least I walked there. And spent another 24 hours in my car.
I’m not sure I’d call the summer of 2017 a record year of overachievement in the quest to be bad enough, but I didn’t stop until I got what I wanted. Help.
The other day I was telling someone that if I had known almost three years ago that I would still be struggling to even have a phone conversation with my kids, I most certainly wouldn’t be here now. I had every faith that, even without a lawyer, if I stayed the course I’d have made some headway at over two and a half years sober. Well, more headway than I’ve made. But I was naive. And overly optimistic.
Hell, I still am. Naive and overly optimistic. Whee!!!
But I’ll tell you what I’m not. I’m not a victim. And the most amazing thing about not being a victim is that it has enabled me to do something about my circumstances.
I am grateful I didn’t know how long the road leading back to my kids would be when I stared into its’ gaping yawn. Or that I’d have done some intense emotional work on surrendering the outcome entirely. I might never have ventured into the Lion’s mouth if I had known beforehand it would be an unrecognizable life I could never have predicted, still three years in.
Yet, here I am.
And I got here one day at a time.
Sigh. All of this to say…this…
I’m okay. I mean, my life looks absolutely nothing like the one I thought I wanted back. And that was crushing at first, still is sometimes, but there’s no going back.
And that’s actually a blessing.
I’d be a liar if I said nothing returned to me. Zeke and I are together again. Funny, it was only after I totally surrendered to having lost him that our timelines organically reunited. But that’s another crazy story for another crazy day.
Surrender. And yet…I just looked up at this on the wall above Zeke’s computer…
Surrender mixed with hope. I’ll take a slice of that.
When this COVID thing rolled around, even though astrology had warned me *something* big was going to happen globally, I was surprised at what exactly that *something* turned out to be. I expressed as much to Larry.
“Uh, well this is fucking inconvenient, dude. What the hell am I going to do now?”
My Spirit Guide, the angel of cosmic humor whom started joining me in my rehab meditations, and remains with me today, laughed. “Ha! HAHAHAHA! Girl…you were built for this shit. You’ll be okay. I promise you.”
I have stared death in the face. Begged it to take me, actually. I don’t wish that state of mind on anyone, but what it has given me is a lack of fear of dying. If the ‘worst’ thing that might happen to me is the inevitable conclusion of this body and the passing of the light within it to another time and place? Another dimension? Wherever our light goes when our bodies give way…
I have nothing to fear. Honestly.
I don’t have a death wish. That’s not what I’m saying at all. But the thought of death doesn’t wrestle me into submitting to life. I have a life wish.
I’ll keep shining my light, for as long as I’m here no matter what the landscape looks like.
No one can stop me.
There is a place where I spend a large part of my time these days, sovereign and free. It’s inside. I carry it everywhere.
You have this place. Actually, we all have this place.
I’m not sharing all of this to brag or glorify my shitty behavior.
I’m not sharing it for sympathy or guidance.
I’m not sharing it because I’m effing awesome and you should think so, too.
I’m sharing because I want you to know that even after losing everything, I’m still okay. Better even. No fear.
And the way I carry on without fear brings amazing things to me. I’ve come to expect them. I’ve even started to feel that I’m worthy of them.
For two years without the, albeit counterproductive, escape of alcohol, I learned that even without any of the people or valuables I thought mattered most, I carried something with me that made life beautiful.
It was a rough lesson, and I’m not suggesting you have to lose everything to find what really matters, but I’m here to tell you that no matter what you lose, you’ll be okay.
Everything is going to be okay.
In fact, everything already is.
That’s my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it. You can pry the tinfoil tiara from my cold dead hands. It won’t matter to me once I’m cold and dead. Because I’ll be all lit up somewhere else. Godspeed.
Whatever is happening here on Earth, I really couldn’t venture a guess, much less say with any authority. I examine all possibilities and accept the potential truth in each one.
And then I put one foot in front of the other knowing that regardless…Everything is gonna be okay.