I have a bunch of drafts started and some of them are funny, and some of them would be poignant AND funny, a double-whammy of Writing Which Other People Might Care to Read. But none of the drafts sum up how I feel today.
Those in AA say that around the annual date of your sobriety, you get…emotional. I don’t know if that’s what this is. And before this goes completely off the rails, look. Listen. I know I am putting this out there for other people to read, and I want to feel like if it helps one person out there, then that is what my intention is and I can pat myself on the proverbial back as a Writer Capital W and we can all sleep soundly tonight.
Except that’s not what this is. The voices inside my head scream that this is self-introspection and belongs nowhere, for no one but me to read later, how selfish am I, why do I think anyone would want to read about my days or times or trials or whatever? Honestly, do I really think this is something other than navel-gazing self-aggrandizing by way of self-deprecation? The answer is two-fold: I don’t really WANT it to be that, and hey, Feelings, you don’t own me. Shut the Fuck Up.
So I guess that’s what this is really about. How the voices in my head lie and how my feelings don’t have to enslave me. It’s just right now. And let me tell you, right now has been pretty shitty for a while. This is life. Things will go wrong. Things will suck. Sometimes there are months of suck in a row, and maybe a bright day in between to break it up, hell, even just a bright hour. Or you rode your bike by the ocean and it smelled like for real ocean. Or you made bread and it turned out pretty fucking good. Your husband hugged you and told you that you were great at something. You held a child on your lap and played a game with them that the child will never remember and probably won’t even remember YOU, but it was kind of nice for 10 minutes. I don’t know. These moments exist. And while you are right now in the throes of wanting to shove your face in a bagful of raspberry Zingers and after that chips and salsa and after that WHATEVER ELSE IS WITHIN GRABBING DISTANCE, you know it’s not the answer. Food comes to mind a lot faster than a drink these days, and I suppose that is a bit of a saving grace, but those 20 pounds you have put on in the last 6 months on top of the already 40 pounds you needed to lose are…telling. One addiction for another. One escape for another. Life’s fucking hard, sometimes nothing feels good, sometimes you want to crawl in bed and stay there for as long as someone will let you.
But the thing is, you don’t. You slip back into Martyr Mode and fulfill all the duties that you think are yours. You work listlessly but long hours. All the bills get paid, the clothes get washed, the groceries get bought, the cats get fed, and still you find yourself at a stoplight ready to burst into tears. You cannot hold it together. You force yourself to hold it together. You are not questioning the validity or worthiness of your life – you are not looking for someone to tell you how to fix whatever “it” is. You just have all these emotions, and they are strong, and THEY. DON’T. FUCKING. OWN. YOU.
But sometimes it sure does feel like they have all the goddamn power.
5 years tomorrow, I stopped drinking. I am grateful for it. I would never be asking these questions or having these feelings if I had not stopped. And while it has been a brutal journey facing myself, it is a journey. Alcohol did not allow for the journey at all, alcohol allowed for the mask and that’s it. Never in my head was the thought of “Feelings don’t own me.” I didn’t feel at all. So, big surprise that five years on, I’m still trying to put myself back in a fucking box. Except that’s not where I belong. I belong out here, feeling all this shit no matter how hard or painful or exhausting. And it is all those things, but it is also hearing my husband laugh, or having that child hold my hand for a minute, or smelling the ocean. What is worse. What is better. It is all just life.
And I am doing the best I fucking can and it is far from perfect and there is nothing wrong with me.
One day, I’ll really believe that.