Today is a day, if I still drank, that I would be a little drunk on the porch right now. I’d be smoking, surfing around on the web. Adding ice and seltzer to my wine so it lasts longer. Dear God, I can even just inhale and feel the relief from that.
But. I don’t drink anymore. I do this other thing: I deal.
Do you ever have those days where it’s not really that bad, but it just really sucked? Or, really only one thing really sucked, but then there’s all these underlying things that keep nagging, insisting on popping up over and over and over.
Like the ladies in my neighborhood. We used to hang out all the time. Drink on the weekends. I used to listen to A talk about B. B talk about C. C talk about B and A. One of them is a pathological liar. They all sort of bait each other. But act like the best of friends. And then tear one another down behind each others backs. I realized quickly when I quit drinking that I wanted no part of that drama anymore. I hadn’t even realized how in the middle I was. So I stepped back. Created distance. Created awkward.
And then days like today happen- I’m innocently walking my eight year old to school and voila. Here they are, walking their kids to school. And I don’t want to deal. I want to pretend we forgot something and go back to the house. But it was too late. So we walk along, slowly. But they slow down too. And I just cannot figure out how to avoid it. We say hello (why must some folk be so over the top at this?) and it’s fine, but I’m nervous and I just want to say, “Please. Just go away from us.”
I realize on my way home why I feel this way. This is exactly how I felt in high school. Trapped in the middle of friends who pretended they liked each other. Stupid clueless me. I was always people pleasing. Always going along with it just to fit in. It bit me in the ass over and over and I still kept on doing it. Right up until last December when I decided to stop being in the middle and make friends who liked me, not who wanted me around because I would listen to them bitch about each other and keep it a secret.
And then later this afternoon I realize this can be as big, or as little as I make it. Since I am in control here. So I decide to make it not awkward. I can be friendly, and kind. I can treat them as I want to be treated, and keep my distance without making my life in the ‘hood hard. Phew.
Then I get an email from my son’s teacher. Asking if something is different at home because he’s been really intense about things for the past few weeks. My oldest is intense by nature. He is this 40 year old man trapped in an eight year old’s body. He is a perfectionist. So hard on himself. So angry sometimes he tells me that the only thing that makes him feel better is if he hurts himself. He is super smart, and super competitive. Super intense. He is also charming, and funny. Quirky. Sharp. Loving. He has amazing manners. He looks you in the eye when he talks to you. He might need some help.
So I reached out and asked for help. Got a recommendation from the pediatrician for a child psychiatrist. Another recommendation from a friend whose partner is a psychiatrist. I’ll make an appointment tomorrow. It will make him feel better. It might change his life. It might make it so he can deal without having to go through twenty years of drinking to do it.
All day I just kept telling myself to open my heart. To not close it and try to hide it all away, but open it wide and let everyone see inside. See that I’m hurting. And scared. See that I’m dealing by not drowning my worries away in a sea of white wine and just-please-can-I-forgets. I dealt with what I was given today by looking closely even though my stomach was in knots and I wanted to look away. I can’t do that if I’m drunk.
I can’t tell what will happen with either situation, or the other handful of things I’m worrying about right now. I can’t hide under the covers and wish the hard stuff away. I can’t ignore how much stronger I’ve become in the past almost six months. I can’t pretend everything is OK, even though I’m scared that maybe it really isn’t. And I can’t imagine how I got through my life while I was drinking all my problems away. Oh, right. I didn’t.
So tonight I’m so grateful for my sobriety. So grateful to myself for sticking with myself even when the going is getting tough. So grateful for this woman I can trust, this me that tells me it will be OK, have an orange and go watch “Parenthood”. There has not been a much better feeling than knowing I’ve got my own back. That I can trust myself to be vulnerable. That I can deal with it. Whatever comes along.