The snowflakes melt on my face like tears. I am floating in the river. The emptiness inside makes me buoyant. The current tries to take me north but I get stuck along the wall. My life is controlled by friction and happenstance. My lifelessness is freeing as I drift away.
I woke up this morning with a lightness. I’ve made the decision to be sober. Last week it felt like stopping drinking was a punishment for my bad behavior and over indulgence. But this morning it is something I want to work on for myself.
I had a hard weekend of feelings and confronting uncomfortable truths. On Saturday I explained to my therapist that I was ready to stop existing, and that I wasn’t that interested in taking care of myself. I believed I was making choices just for my relationship and to avoid hurting Thom. He pointed out that I am too focused on the now, and if I widen my perspective I’d see all the ways I do care about me and how I’ve been working to survive and thrive for a long time.
It won’t be easy, but I’m going to survive and thrive.
So might as well make it official. Yesterday, Thom got home from a brunch I skipped to find me passed out on the floor with empty whiskey and wine bottles. He had to call a friend to help carry me to the car and take me to the ER. My blood alcohol level was frighteningly high, and it was all such a sad and scary mess. My mess brought on by my addiction and misuse of alcohol to deal with things I can’t deal with. And the ironic thing was that I’d actually been planning to throw the bottles out. I’d already over-indulged the day before to the point I fell and broke/bruised ribs and knocked over a large glass of water by my bedside. Today has been calm, and sad, and so much to think about. I went to see my doctor, told him everything, and now we have a plan of action. And I have to monitor myself for escalating withdrawal symptoms. And Thom has been crying and I don’t really know how to process everything other than tell what happened and do my damnedest to avoid having it happen again. So apologies to anyone I’ve frightened or upset. I’m going to work to get better and restore some balance. And show my husband the love he showed me as he worked hard to save my life yesterday.
In keeping with my habit of using chemicals to fix things… today I began taking Lexapro again on the advice of my doctor and therapist. (And to the delight of Thom.) The first time I took this medication was 12 and a half years ago… And I wrote about it in a post called 5 mg which I am reposting below:
“So, it is official. I am in the club. I just swallowed my first dose of psychiatrist prescribed crazy pill. Soon it will be digested and working its magic on my brain. Adjusting chemicals, re-routing impulses, and (according to all of the websites I’ve been reading) possibly screwing up my libido and causing erectile dysfunction. That part, hopefully, is highly unlikely.
Tony doesn’t see my taking a pill as any big deal. He has already swallowed a bottle of something he found in the dumpster last night and washed it down with a little Scotch. “Breakfast of Champions,” he quotes.
But Tony doesn’t remember that I have a long history of pills. Of course, I wasn’t taking these pills, but all the other crazies in my life were.
Luke was always on something–Lithium, zoloft, I dunno. Bipolar, manic-depressive, and prone to going many days without showering. Then there was C., who deals with some depression and OCD tendencies and is overcome by kitties. And Micah with his beautiful insecurity, Michael with his tortured musical temperament, and my sister. She was always a little on edge, probably why she writes so well. She swallows pills, too.
I would like to know how this miniature, white half-moon is able to find its way from my tummy to my mind? I gave it lots of company for its trip: coffee, oatmeal, fake sausage, and sinus medication. What if it gets lost? What if, instead of causing seratonin to flow free up in the attic, it makes other things flow down below?
Well, depending on what is flowing, I bet that could help me find some balance as well.
Crazy people of the world, UNITE!!!”
“The beast in me
Is caged by frail and fragile bars
Restless by day
And by night rants and rages at the stars
God help the beast in me
The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me
Sometimes it tries to kid me
That it’s just a teddy bear
And even somehow manage to vanish in the air
And that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me
That everybody knows
They’ve seen him out dressed in my clothes
If it’s New York or New Year
God help the beast in me
The beast in me”
We’re told that our bodies are host to a virtual zoo of bacteria numbering in the millions. And those bacteria, though potentially gruesome to think about on an individual level, help us live and grow, age and die. And our minds are simply vast networks of neurons and synapses, firing and stimulating, somehow collectively creating consciousness. My one solid, physical self isn’t very solid at all. Every 7 years my cells have replaced themselves. Born anew again and again. And yet… despite this cacophony of little bits and pieces that manufacture my existence, I am threatened daily by one thing. The beast in me.
It’s the singular voice and belief that I am useless. It’s the anxiety and depression that motivates me to hide away and sulk. It’s the addictive voice that asks to be fed with alcohol and pills. It’s the scared little boy that needs to be protected. It’s the beast within that has me running constantly and going nowhere at all.
Now in the spirit of academic honesty (and helping me keep track of my references) I should mention that the concept of an internal “addictive voice” and referring to it as “the Beast” actually came from a website called Rational Recovery. My therapist recommended it to me when we were discussing the possibility of my alcohol dependency and abuse. It struck a chord with me when I read their explanation, but as I’ve sat with the idea for a few weeks I now feel like my own “beast” isn’t an active desire or compulsion. It’s the opposite.
Like “the Nothing” in The Never-Ending Story, my own internal beast is more like an absence. Apathy or atrophy. A loss of enthusiasm or blissful ignorance. A deadly force that will eventually break me apart from the inside. It may manifest as desire to drink or anxiety about everything, but at it’s core it is simply an absence.
So the question becomes… how to handle the beast in me? Is my dissolution inevitable? This seems a mundane question because so many of us cursed with consciousness feel the same… and yet we all feel it individually. And I’m not sure of where to apply pressure and where to try to absolve myself. This nothingness is real.
Lately in a moment, in the mirror, I am able to see myself as viable… attractive even. But then when I’m in a therapy situation … it all falls apart. Right now I’m all sorts of apart. The beast is winning. I find it difficult to take up space in my own life. And Thom seems ambivalent about me… which shouldn’t matter like it does but the Beast has weakened my sense of self and left me vulnerable to attack. If he doesn’t care… then how can I care?
And yet I’m still up and moving. I get dressed everyday and smile at young people and animals. I look up and find beauty. (I also find hidden places for my secret indulgences and then castigate myself afterwards and make plans to stop.) I carry some small hope that I might tame this beast. I haven’t yet quit trying.
As much as I don’t enjoy church, I love the music you can find within. Here’s some of my favorites.
Emotions and Music. Personal. Potentially Magical. Enjoy.