She sets the tall glass of club soda down in front of me and immediately I hate that the glass is tall and I hate that the particular lime wedge she has limply skewered onto the rim looks as if it has spent the last three months of its pathetic existence rotting in the back of the refrigerator. It’s literally not even green. Or yellow. It has no color it’s like the ghost of a lime gone by.
Have you ever seen the John Mulaney bit where he talks about going to a party where people “Know ya don’t drink!” and so they offer him like a fucking turnip or an old NuvaRing from the freezer? His delivery is hilarious and so on point. I think about this and laugh to myself as I shove the offending slice of sad citrus into my napkin. Everyone else downs their wine and beer.
Life is very sharp these days. I am very aware and often feel very naked. I think it was Catherine Gray who said early sobriety feels like you are a de-quilled porcupine and I must say I feel that for sure. I’m cool in my own home. My husband still drinks and I don’t sweat that, it’s fine. But the outside booze-drowned world is super loud to me for some reason. Even talking to other sober folks online feels like I’m a tiny awkward newborn foal on brand new legs trying to take a couple timid steps.
It’s funny though because those vulnerable images of tiny quivering animals in their shivering unprotected nakedness also burns a deeper feeling inside of me that I am not sure I have ever known this viscerally. Compassion for myself. Not like sappy pity but the actual solid feeling of a desire to treat with extreme care and fierce protection. Compassion for the me that is just trying to re-emerge in a way which isn’t paranoid or self-sabotaging.
As I write this right now (and please forgive me I have no idea if this is any good I just need to write because I don’t know wtf I’m doing) a mangy blizzard is pummeling the area, white whirling snow is rushing sideways past the window to my writing room. It occurs to me this must be what it would look like if you were looking out from the inside of a snow globe. All shook up and softly blinded by the muted grayish light. Kinda magic. Kinda disorienting.
Out there it’s harsh and brutal. But in here I am warm and safe with my coffee and keyboard and a stack of quit lit towering on the bed. And I don’t know how but I know I’m gonna be okay. I can feel it because I am so aware of every little thing now. I was never grateful enough for all that I have. I couldn’t see it clearly enough. I was very busy numbing it out and then nursing my sickness after it was too late to stop it from crippling me.
I guess sometimes it takes staying awake when there is a storm raging all around to really get to know the unshakable calm at your center.
The soft-strong-self-calm my addiction tried again and again to convince me didn’t exist.
For twenty-two years, it worked.