When Things Keep Falling Apart

I'm starting to post a series of vignettes over on Medium that are about relationships and booze. I've been working on these essays for a little over a year now, reading them aloud in my writing workshop and then stacking them in a pile in the corner. So I decided I may as well collect them on a public platform, right?? I'm going to try and post one every other week, so I'd love it if y'all come and check me out over there from time to time. I'm sharing the latest one here, but I won't every time. So in the meantime, Write On!

It was supposed to work. This trip was supposed to fix us. I do remember this. But the rest of that year? It's like trying to remember the year I turned ten. I remember how I felt about turning double digits. I remember how I felt about flying down that hill on my bike, banana seat between my legs, going so fast that I didn't have to hold the handlebars but only feel the streamers flutter in my face. I remember I felt strong and in control of that particular moment, Queen of the Banana Seats, joyfully reigning on that one wild ride of my tenth year. I don't remember if I had a birthday party or who my teacher was that year. I don't remember who my best friend was or if I could even count the number of people who I knew loved me. That's how I remember all of 2004 and particularly that trip to the Catskills for a wedding that was supposed to fix my broken marriage. 

There are other feelings I remember from 2004:  anger, so much anger and vitriol, which always bubbled right below the surface just dying to be poked. It never matter who started it, who hated who more, who was the bigger victim or martyr, it was always there and reeking. There was no sequence of events like clues in a Scooby-Do episode where you can review and say, YES, obviously it was that guy who would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.  There was just always a low-level rumbling of wrongness and the gallons of booze poured over that made the land far too murky to find the source.  

I also remember laughter, so much laughter everyday until my stomach hurt. Funny how the anger and the laughter caused the same pain, two sides of the same coin that I didn't even want in my pocket, much less tell you how it landed there. But somehow all of that laughter and all of the Lonestar-fueled Jackass antics felt like we were doing something very important. It entitled us to mock and ridicule life and society and anything that remotely resembled being a grown-up, even though being married and having a house and a kid would attempt to argue otherwise. 

I remember always feeling anxious over my toddler and particularly over him never wanting to fall asleep, in spite of the near-nightly loud adult noises and wafts of food and booze going on in other rooms that I had always imagined toddlers should be able to sleep through. I was always anxious over loud thumps in the night that forever will be the sound that is made when a toddler falls out of his bed and hits the hardwood floor. I remember how a cabin in the Catskills sounded like sweet relief from having to manage a chaotic environment of toddler tantrums and biting hangovers, even if only for five days and four nights.  

I remember I packed too much for a cabin in the woods built for two, but where only one would actually stay.  I remember feeling nervous about attending a wedding where I would be mingling with the New York indie scene and I thought someone might actually see me. The days leading up to the wedding, I remember drinking lots of wine alone. I remember there was never enough wine in this beautiful cabin in the woods built for two, while my husband was surely out there in another part of the woods doing things that involved lots of beer and did not involve wearing shirts. I took a lot of walks on the wooded path that led up to the cabin and I remember wishing I would see a bear. I imagined a bear would wander out onto the path, too far ahead that she couldn't outrun me if I had to run but we would both stop and look at each other, or rather, she would notice me. And then we would resume walking. The morning of the wedding, my husband came by to put on his suit and I remember putting on the darkest purple eyeshadow that I had. I remember I felt dizzy and hot and I that I couldn't to talk to him. I remember it took a long time for him to tie his tie. 

I remember missing my toddler because I knew he was the one person in the world that would wake up that morning and notice I wasn't there. And he would still miss me even though in the short time we had known each other I had not really been there because I was always checked out, fallen down, dead drunk or just not noticing. The need to be seen yet not seeing, that is what I remember. 

One morning back in Texas, I was up watching Good Morning America and the scene still plays in my head as clear as anything from that year.  "Up next we talk to a couple that is celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary!" The gray-haired couple smiled at the camera, perfectly nestled into each other, knob into crevasse, as if they were one being.  After commercial, the jolly reporter asked, "So what is the secret to staying married for so long?" They looked into each other's milky-glassed eyes, and he said, "We just never fell out of love at the same time." My mind screen-shotted that moment and filed it away, methodically without one single produced feeling. 

Our marriage was over two months later. 


Writers Gonna Write.

One of the biggest gifts of sobriety has been the desire to try new things. I didn't expect this gift. I thought I'd tried everything I wanted to try and if I hadn't, well, it just wasn't for me. That was one of those big lies we told ourselves to keep us stuck in our old stories though, because if I were truly honest, there were so many things I hadn't tried because they would have interfered with my drinking time. That's the truth. If it happened after 5pm or too early on the weekend or too late on the weekend, nope, wasn't happening.

One of the first things I said YES to after I felt a little more sure on my sober feet was sign up for my first memoir writing class. I don't really have an interest in writing a memoir, per se, but I've always wanted to take a writing class. I've always loved to write, I'd journaled on and off since middle school, I didn't know if I was a good writer or even if I should call myself a writer (which, I've come to decide that if you write, you are a writer), but I didn't care. Now I do have to add one caveat, and that is when I turned the magical number of 4-0, something did happen. An I Don't Give A F*ck light came on above my head and it's gotten a little brighter every year that has passed since. The only problem was that I had fallen so far down into the well of despair, no one could see it. Hell, I could barely see it until I got sober. It didn't have a chance to shine until then. 

Now, I've taken this memoir writing workshop on and off for a bit over a year. Have I penned a best-seller? No. But I have published some essays, I started this site, I write most days, I show up to class and listen to my fellow writers as we all spill it on the page and for the third time last night, I read an essay I wrote to a small theater audience. And there was applause. I'm not saying this to appear fearless, because I'm nervous as hell every time, but the sheer joy I feel from feeling it and doing it anyway is electric. 

If you are new to sobriety, I encourage you to just stay sober. Don't drink. It's so hard in the beginning, it's like a full-time job. But when you get to a place where it feels more like a part-time job, I would suggest trying something new, put your head out, cross the line, make yourself uncomfortable. I promise you, it is a gift. If it sucked, no one would ever get sober.

I'd love for you to share the new thing you want to try in the comments!

The Written Bloom.

I have always been a writer, as I have always written words down on paper. The thirteen year old angst-filled, self-deprecating words that were kept under lock and key morphed slightly to insightfully earnest, psychedelic-induced journaling (read: babble) of the college years. Both painful to read now, especially due to my insistence on perpetual uniqueness, but I guess that isn't really a unique experience either. But I wrote things down. And even though I was my only audience, it definitely informed any ability I have today. 

I am an introvert and introverts usually make good writers. I kept with the inconsistent journals and the occasional blogs but unfortunately, I could never take myself too seriously as the impulse to put ass in chair always came after several glasses of wine. Oh how sharp we thought we were. And we are all familiar with the posse of authors that got away with this but, ummm, I was not one of them.

Very insightful. Like Xanadu, right? If only we could read those last few words, I'm sure I was about to say something very important. So writing, just like everything I did, I could only give about 80% of myself, and that was a good day. 

Today, I'm still writing, as you can see. And it's legible! I'm even taking a writing class, although I still don't take myself too seriously. I really make mine akin to storytelling, and if you're brave enough to put your story out there, it can be a "me too" message in a bottle for someone that is isolating and feeling that perpetual uniqueness we've all felt. And still, not even necessary to experience the benefits of writing your story, even it stays under lock and key. Bloom away!