“I sit here
At the window
Waiting for you…
You remind me of myself.
Perhaps (I wonder aimlessly)
I could comfort you…
The furrows between your eyes,
And the ravages of anxiety
Across your clenched expression;
You have the new face…
The face of no objective experience
Toward your sorrow.
How private you are
In the minds of everyone.
I salute you,
Who has swallowed so much
And tasted so little.”
Disclaimer: Writing is my “addiction.” It habitually makes me feel alive and worthwhile. This form of release is a healthy and therapeutic catharsis for the mind, body + soul, and is a hell of a lot less destructive than my previous ways. So, if there’s one thing I can ask of you, it’s that you keep in mind this is my outlet, and after I let these words free from my being… I feel lighter almost instantaneously and it lessens the grip my demons have on me, if only for the day. It’s *something,* and this *something* is eons better than suffocating and suffering in silence.
This post is dedicated to the souls I know, to those I’ve yet to cross, and to those I will never meet, specifically the ones who’ve relapsed from whatever it is they might be recovering from.
Additionally: death to stigma, death to shame.
Additionally, Additionally… FUCK BRETT KAVANAUGH AND EVERYONE DEFENDING HIM OR TRYING TO JUSTIFY HIS TEMPERAMENT AND ACTIONS. I’ll get to how this ties into a post originally intended to be solely dedicated to relapse during recovery later on, because this week’s hearings had me triggered.
Over the past few weeks, intermittently, I’ve literally had to fight and cling on to a minute-by-minute basis, not to relapse. I knew in the back of my mind I wouldn’t relapse, but that doesn’t diminish the intensity of the feelings and cravings I had in the moment(s). I wanted out — out my skin, out of my head, out my life, out of myself — for just a night, or as long as a drink would keep its buzz afloat in my bloodstream. I fantasized about it. I romanticized it. I had some nostalgic thoughts about it. I had to remind myself forcibly though, that no matter how I tried to sex it up in my mind, a drink would not offer me a legit, long-lasting sense of relief or offer me any solution. I knew even when I hurt, or felt nothing, or felt everything, that a drink just simply wasn’t going to do the trick and took it as a blinding red flag, I’ve still got so much work to do. (Even during times of despair, the fact I can trust myself, in my opinion, says so much about how far I’ve come, and I will give myself credit where it’s due — something I’m still learning to do.)
I know the work will never be over, but I refuse to look at this as a lifelong “thing” because a lifelong anything just induces anxiety, cold feet, and a general feeling of smallness. I’m already physically small, so I don’t need to mentally shrink myself down to fit my stature, thanks. So, I typically (subconsciously) take it day by day, some nights it’s hour by hour, and then sometimes it’s a minute by minute fight to keep my mind right. Most days though, a thought of a drink doesn’t ever happen, period. Usually the only thing I want to “unwind” is a juicy SubReddit, some sort of existential reading material, or to play Frozen Free Fall (like Candy Crush but Disney-fied). Needless to say, it was unnerving to feel that old feeling creeping back in, and even more difficult to ignore it. And even more taxing when it started happening a couple times a week… then a few times a week… then there was a string of nights where I just wanted everything to stop.
I don’t know if it was the moon, my hormones, my stress level (or internalizing said stress), or fatigue in general, or maybe I need my meds adjusted — fuck, maybe all of the above — but I’ve been all over the goddamn spectrum of feels over the last month. I’ve had cravings for cigarettes (that’s a serious WTF, even for me, because it’s been YEARS since I’ve even taken a drag off a cig), I’ve had immense fatigue in every sense of the word, I had a short bout of mania (something I haven’t experienced in nearly a decade), I’ve been overly irritable and easily agitated, I’ve been increasingly and easily triggered about several things, and the cherry on top is, I even had a few thoughts of just not wanting to do this whole life thing anymore.
The only constant throughout them all, was that I had to (forcefully) remember all these feelings – no matter how big or how small – were all temporary, and I simply just had to dig deep, shut off, or wait it out. I wanted to cry, scream, drown, disappear, run like there’s no turning back, or sleep like I never had to wake up again — something, just anything that wasn’t the things I was experiencing.
Honestly, there were several days I’m not even sure I changed clothes or brushed my teeth. I just simply couldn’t be bothered to care. I made sure my kids were happy, healthy, and fed, but I just didn’t even think about my own well-being.
Lo and behold, it appears I wasn’t the only one feeling these things. (Shocker, the universe doesn’t revolve around me!) I started noticing a spike in people relapsing, in various types of recovery, not just limited to substance abuse. Some of them, I actually was jealous of because I thought how “nice” it must’ve been to let the devil out a little, relieve some of the pressure, and make all the internal noise not so violent for even just a little while.
The mild jealousy turned into severe heartbreak quickly though, and I found myself wanting to hug and hold the shit out of several folks, and then either listen to them or sit in silence with them, depending. The empathy and sympathy ran deep, because I so thoroughly understood (to the best of my ability) that desire to surrender or temporarily claim defeat towards whatever it was they were recovering from, and a ginormous wave of compassion washed over me.
It still didn’t totally squash my own desires, but it shrunk them just a bit. And bit by bit, the desires and fantasies and mania and anger all slowly disappeared, but the feelings of nothingness still haven’t fully left yet, and in the place of the thoughts of relapse set in new, old thoughts — which were large in part due to the Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh hearings this week — and feelings and memories that were so repressed and/or suppressed they’d seemingly either been forgotten or came raging up from inside of me only to steal my breath and left me visibly recoiling a few times.
These flashbacks are similar but not identical to other flashbacks, the main thread of commonality being that alcohol was involved. Sometimes these times involved blackouts, sometimes not, but booze and boys were plentiful before I finally found myself pregnant at age 22 and settled down (mostly) from there.
Some names, faces and places I remember, some I do not. Just like Dr. Blasey Ford and all other women who’ve been sexually assaulted, abused, or raped — whether I remember all these details or not, does not invalidate my experiences or the trauma that has internalized and/or been repressed and suppressed since then. It doesn’t matter if years have passed — the mind may not accurately remember, but the body does.
Just like many other women, this past Thursday and Friday left me feeling depleted yet exasperated, and it was almost an out of body type feeling, roaming around and doing all my usual tasks but feeling as though I was watching myself from the outside. Listening to Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony ripped opened wounds I forgot I had, but the way my body responded… like I said, the mind may forget but the body keeps the score, and I felt my palms begin to line with heat from the inside out then become clammy and tingling, fragments of decade old memories begin flashing and rotating through my mind… It felt like part of me was exiting my physical self, and I involuntarily began tearing up and could literally feel the color draining from my face. I felt hollow. I felt shame. I felt pain. I felt confused. I felt scared. I felt triggered.
To be honest, I’m still trying to process everything that happened to me over these past couple of days, and I can only imagine how other women and victims are feeling.
I’m going to have to (abruptly) leave it at this, until I feel comfortable and strong enough to really work through all these *things* that are surging through my body. And so as you can see, even though a decade+ has passed since my experiences, I still can’t bring myself to want to remember and work through all that’s happened to me. A lot of these things I’m vaguely referencing are being brought to light for the first time, and it’s just simply too much for me right now. Regardless, this post has given me strength and I’ve got enough cognizant wherewithal to be able to listen to my heart and know when I must stop trying to push through things I’m not ready to do yet.
So if you’re reading this, and if you read this far and/or any of this resonates with you, I salute you, brave spirit.
Be good to yourself and to others. I love you.