***Trigger warning, some content might be upsetting***
I wonder what I was thinking that night fifteen years ago today. Not the surface thoughts, those I think I can recreate with some accuracy. ‘I think I want to sing that Gretchen Wilson song.’ Or ‘I hope he buys another pitcher.’ Or ‘Everyone is watching me as I walk across the bar to the bathroom.’ Those surface, ego thoughts. What I wonder though, is what were the thoughts beneath the noise. Beneath the cigarette smoke and sharp tang of whiskey, the yeasty bubbly beer scent of the bar. What were those trembling thoughts as I wanted to hide beneath the makeup. Don’t look at me. Don’t see me. I’m here with a married man and I’m not a wife. Don’t know me. I’m a ghost.
I wonder what I felt while alone in the bathroom stall. I wonder if I vomited there. The chances are good; I nearly always purged in bars. At home. Make room for more. Fill those voids with booze, with men, with cigarettes. Add a side of nachos and karaoke. What did I think while alone in the bathroom stall, while women primped and preened in the mirrors and gossiped about the guy standing at the bar in the tight jeans and cowboy hat or the bitch at the pool tables in the red heels. What if one of those women was like another woman on another night, who finally left the baby with her mom so she could enjoy a night out with her friends, what if she suffered nights at home while her husband was out with his buddies…and another woman.
Today it’s not hard for me to imagine the underlying pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization running like a program in the background, as yet unidentified by the user. What was I thinking after holding a hand over one eye in order to focus on the lyrics of White Trash Woman on the screen, microphone clutched in my fingers. What forced the intuitive thought–the moment of clarity–which I vocalized to the married man I was with, “Ya know, we should quit drinking and go to a meeting”.
Today I know what I’m thinking. I am grateful I listened.
I hadn’t intended to combine these to anniversaries with the following but they are forever combined.:
Twelve years ago today, a Wednesday, I stared at the golf shop’s sign through the window of the eyeglass place, moving the lenses up and down to compare and contrast. Blurry, clear, blurry, clear. Grandma had urged me to see the eye doctor after my remaining sighted eye had gone all TV-fuzz-like on Monday and landed me in the ER. She would leave me a voicemail the following day, a Thursday, asking me if I still liked my boyfriend after seeing him through my new pair of glasses. That day I would stare at him as my vision slowly faded to gray.
We watched I Am Legend Wednesday night, April 23, 2008. My last sighted movie. Bummer, right? Oh, you liked it? That’s cool. As I write this today, I am isolated like Will Smith’s character. Am I legend? In my own mind sometimes, sure.
The following day , Thursday, April 24, 2008, Instead of answering Gamma’s question, I would spend my three years sober anniversary memorizing my boyfriend’s face in the emergency room. I told him I was going blind and he didn’t want to believe it. Who would? We are still distantly acquainted. I continue to see his face the way it looked that day. We are both frozen in my memory twelve years younger than we are now. I’ve often joked, morbidly some might say, that the way I used to live I never thought I’d see thirty, pause a beat, I went blind at twenty-nine.
Today I am sad. Today I cannot seem to grab on to gratitude the way I usually can around these twin anniversaries, the way I did yesterday. Today I feel the twinge of the self pity I pray for help with daily. I want hugs tomorrow on my fifteen year sobriety anniversary. We’ll celebrate on Zoom. My best friend in Colorado will attend. Silver lining. Today is day thirty-eight of isolation. Just me and my cat, thank God for my cat, in my tiny apartment. Thank God for my tiny apartment, a safe place to shelter, away from others, away from human touch. Away from the man I started dating in January. I’m sad. I’m sad for the millions of people who don’t have the security that my disabilities afford me. I’m sad for the people who have died and for those who loved them. I’m sad for myself and everyone else who’s sad. I’m just sad.
It’s ok to feel feelings today.
Note: Usually I’m much sunnier about my sobriety. Sobriety is freaking awesome and is the foundation of how I’m getting through this isolation one day at a time. If you are struggling with drinking what you feel is too much, even though in-person things are shut down, there is still help out there. You can reach out privately by leaving me a comment and I won’t publish it, or follow the contact link above and I can direct you toward that help.