This is basically the reason I started to drink in the first place, and I’m pretty sure it’s the reason people have drank since the beginning of time: to feel more comfortable in their skin. Now, they probably didn’t quite use that language while sitting around the fire or dinner table or watering hole (I’m sorry, I have to pause here: imagine Jesus saying to Luke, I don’t know, I just feel so…uncomfortable in my own skin sometimes, man.) but that’s why. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and smooths the chatter of our minds and some of our minds are really, really loud and mean.
To your grief: the losses are real. To tell you they’re not would be disingenuous and untrue. Addiction steals our time and our essence and our ability to receive love, among other things. Feel all the way into the pain of what you know you lost, and also the unknowable things. But. But. Hear this: you didn’t chase weed and people and cigarettes and shiny things because you’re just “that fucked up.” You did it because you’ve been looking for love, like Johnny Lee did, in all the wrong places.
Can we pause for one second before we crack open the Rosé and think, Where am I going with this? Closer to life or further away? Why? Is this what it means to be alive? Is there some kind of connection to this—the wine, the food, the sex, the 500th Netflix show, whatever—and the disconnection we’re seeing in the world? Maybe?
Your goodness doesn’t cancel out your darkness nor the other way around. As Thomas Lloyd Qualls says, “Believing you are good is like believing in the half moon.” The unlit side of the moon is always there, whether we see a sliver or full, creamy sphere.
This kaleidoscope of things. Sometimes all the pieces come into focus in a way that’s so beautiful it hurts—like the plastic bag at the end of American Beauty. The ordinariness of life. The bigness of it, too. When it comes into focus, everything is clear and felt at once.
Today marks 1,000 days since September 28, 2014. The day before, I drank. Again. On that day, I was also the Vice President of Marketing at a PR agency in Boston, a not-yet-divorced-but-newly-separated single mom of a five-year-old girl, 37 years old, running and doing yoga regularly, and outwardly doing just fine.
What was delivered to me drop by painful drop in that time, was the notion of staying. Of not hoping for a different moment than the one I was in—not because I found the moment acceptable, but because fighting it became futile. Fighting it made me suffer. Immensely.
I have been wondering if I have a problem. Drinking for me took the form of 1-2 glasses of wine every day with dinner. I recently, without much thought, decided to give up drinking for Lent. The first week was somewhat difficult. I was a bit anxious and had cravings for my dinner time glasses of wine but as the second week began, I started feeling a surge of positivity and felt more open to everything, also more motivated to do things. I am now a month into it and wondered if I could be an alcoholic if I could quit so easily.
I’ve been writing about the day in the spring of 2012 when my husband and I had the conversation to separate, the day I took the same run for the first time, when the sensation of running both towards and away from something was so urgent I felt I might spin right off the land into the deep, endless waters.