Jim Morrison had the sexiest voice of anyone ever and now he’s gone but still he sings gravelly voiced from the speaker down the hall as my husband takes a bath after his morning run. This country is fucked and we are stuck right down in it for better or worse (worse, mostly, it turns out). I’ve no idea what to do about that but I feel it a lot deeper than he does, this I know for sure.
Not much I can do about that either. Can’t yell or scream or cry or seethe enough to make it as real for him as it is for me because he is a man and he is from another generation. One that may actually be taken care of til it dies off. But I am a woman and I am of a generation which will likely not be taken care of even though I have earned it, doesn’t matter. Faith? Hope? Drugs? Lies? Truth? Life? Addiction? Death? Who is in charge and who is not. Do we fight or do we flee. Should I post on the blog today? I think this over as I sip my coffee. What to say? Why am I doing this and who is it for? I have recently considered becoming addicted to cigarettes on purpose just for something shit to do.
I text with a friend about moving to Costa Rica. I know nothing at all about Costa Rica but turns out I know pretty much fuck all about America, too, so whatever will be will be. Independence Day is hilarious. Peace and love, hot dogs, water ice, and bullshit all down your naive throat. I don’t blame myself for getting drunk all the times I did. Or trying to blunt the pain of this extremely painful life. Outside my window there are green trees and soft breezes blowing through them like whispers of a time when I was too young to understand how my life was being disassembled right out from under me.
Fireflies. Fireworks. The smell of a charcoal grill and the feel of a cherry popsicle dangling from my tiny little mouth. There was an innocence to summer grass beneath my feet and the red and blue twinkle of July 4th party lights reflecting on the surface of the pool in the yard at night. I remember it and smile for a second, smile briefly but sincere none the less. I hate it here. Jim Morrison is drowned out by hedgetrimmers. Poetry is a wheel of cotton candy pink birth control pills that some bible thumper prude Christian refuses to distribute to a hot young thing at the local Walgreens because #religiousfreedom. I never want to have sex again because everything is politics and smells like stale beer on abusive breath and tastes like the butts of cigarettes drowning in the stagnant water left for the mosquitos in the bird bath which sits peeling and rusting in the 12 noon suburban sun.
It’s not about babies or life. We aren’t stupid, we aren’t blind, we all know it. The overturning of Roe is about oppressing, dehumanizing, ruining, raping, and killing women. With heavy emphasis on the girls and women and all people who can become pregnant who are already the most disenfranchised. When I got sober it was in many ways a great big Fuck You to the patriarchy we live under that can only exist if it keeps women numb, weak, and terrified. Well. I am not numb or weak or terrified anymore.
Pissed? Yeah I’m quite entirely pissed.
But I’m not surprised. Yesterday’s ruling hit like a gut punch to my every internal organ. Knocked the wind out of me. I cried I screamed I lost my shit. But I didn’t drink. I stayed. I stayed here in the goddamn middle of this hellhole shit storm of what doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy anymore. I felt every rage-filled thing. What “conservative” radical white supremacist extremists are doing to the people of this country is calculated and disgusting. It is the most pathetic, easy, cheap, vile thing to go after the women who are already broken, abused, and left for dead by the richest society in the mutherfucking world.
And I felt all of that hatred course through my veins yesterday. I felt all of it in this body that I now know fully and certainly and completely is my own.
Fuck your laws. Fuck your annihilation of my protection, my safety, and my sanity. I own myself and I answer only to me.
When you stop drinking alcohol entirely, the world looks very different than it did before. And I used to think that was because I am just so clear headed now but I think it’s more than that. I think now I’m looking at the world with entirely new eyes. That’s why it looks different, because I am. And I know that probably sounds one of two things: melodramatic or completely made up. Either I am making too big a deal of sobriety or I am faking a feeling I think I’m supposed to feel and trying to convince myself as I try to convince other people how glorious it is to turn down the wine I once coveted with everything I had. There is a lot to pull apart here. But the thing is, and I mean this sincerely, my experience of absolutely everything is new because my perception of it and where it belongs in my new lifestyle is new. Sobriety is like rearranging all the rooms in your house. Once you get the living room sorted out just the way you like it, you’ve gotta do the dining room because it’s right there, and then the kitchen and then since the downstairs is looking really good you move on upstairs and start sorting all that out, too. Or not. Or you exhaust yourself just thinking about moving through all that change and decide you are very sincerely tired and don’t feel like lifting a finger. And as long as you aren’t lifting a glass full of wine to your lips you figure you’ve done enough for now.
I sit sipping fresh cappuccino by my open writing room window. The rain is coming down in tiny sprinkled bursts as the light wind glides through the gigantic green trees. There’s no thunder but small flashes of lightning pulse every once in a while. The gray of the cool sky feels like a merciful hand over a closed tired eye. I just want to be away. Away from here. Away far enough to actually see what I’m looking at. So much change has happened for me in these last five months it feels overwhelming at the moment. And maybe that will pass, I am sure it will – this feeling like there’s nothing left to hold on to because everything has been swept away by the giant wave of sobriety as it crashed over me. I see things now for what they really are, or should I say instead: I feel the real things now. I feel the things that aren’t right and haven’t been for a very long time. My whole life has been upended and trying to minimize the effects of that is scratching at the insides of my bones. Something inside still needs to be let out. When you see what needs to change you have to go about changing it. I guess. Or not. Maybe not. Maybe the thing is to just stop blaming myself for any of it.
Properly exhausted and humbled down to a tiny little nub, I can at least revel in the fact that the writing of my book and the writing of my book proposal are both now complete. What will become of any of this is anyone’s guess but I do promise this (to myself and anyone who may be listening): the book is gonna get published. It will exist in this big wide world somehow. It’s too important to me to let it disintegrate in a drawer somewhere. Which I am sure is what every author feels about her work once it is complete. The funny thing is, as I was walking with my husband around the neighborhood last night he asked me, So… what are you gonna do now? To which I responded the only way one can respond when her whole life is devoted to words: Start writing the next one, I guess.
Just like everything else, one thing leads to the next. You begin a thing and you end it and then you begin something else lest you go mad. You do your little projects and hope with all your mighty might that maybe someone else will like them. Notice them. Give a damn. And maybe they do and that’s really special. And maybe they don’t and that hurts a bunch. But either way, you have to get up and do the day the best you know how. And when you are sober you know right at the top of it that you are about to feel every single thing without hope of escape. And even though the addiction part of you is still fixated on the drink (it really is, it’s fucking insane) the rest of you is hyper aware of all the other various forms of possible escape that people around you are engaging in all the time. Escaping into substances or people or vacations or whatever else. Work. Success. Money. Botox.
All around us hangs the haunt of any other life but the one we’ve got to live in the skin we’re in. We reach for the easy way out and it all goes up in liquid smoke. Every damn time. That’s how you know that what a destructive thing is promising you is an illusion and not a reality. When you get up close to the part that’s supposed to be easy, it isn’t there. It doesn’t actually exist.
Hello to new followers, you have all made me so happy. I don’t know why you decided to come along, if it’s the writing or the audio or the sobriety or all of it or whatever other reason, but I’m just grateful to know something here resonated with you. It’s weird these days with authors it’s like we are supposed to have a ‘thing’ like an ‘image’ or an aesthetic or a bunch of fucking clever reels on Instagram or whatever. I am not sure I”m up for all that to be honest. I just want to write ffs. That’s all. Anyway, I thank you for checking out my stuff if you are new here and if you have been hanging out with me for a long while, hello and thank you so much, too.
Heading into the long holiday weekend, I’m thinking about the fact that I will be sailing through it entirely sober. Entirely hangover-free. God, that feels so fucking good to say. To know. To trust.
I have more work to do on the book. I’m told parts of it are ‘stunning’ and ‘brilliant’ and other parts make no sense or need clarification. Some parts need to be shifted around and some other parts need to be nixed altogether. And I am going to do all of that, too. I most totally am. But later. This weekend I’m doing as close to ‘nothing’ as possible. Which really if I think about it, I will be doing a lot of things, just nothing ‘productive.’ I plan to relax. I have a whole line up of beautifully clean, fresh, interesting booze-free drinks to mix up. As my second pot of coffee was brewing this morning, I sliced up a bunch of lemons, limes, and cucumbers to throw into my Pellegrinos throughout the next days How lovely, right?
There will be boating, swimming, eating. Lounging. Beaching. I am desperate to see the ocean glittering underneath the warm sun. Sea gulls. These days, with all of the bullshit that adults call adulting out of my way, I find myself very interested in what the kiddos are interested in. Ice cream. Cotton candy. Goofing off. Running, dancing, laughing. Whispering secrets. Picking flowers. Snapping nature photos. I just want to be enveloped in the sort of misty haze that rolls in along the shoreline in that rose gold hour between afternoon and evening. To be present inside of that… it’s really like a dream.
It has been one hell of a week. And I know our culture is an absolute shit show. I know it’s hell and we are all on fire. And all I did was get sober. And all I am doing is unplugging. But as I slice up a juicy pink grapefruit and place a taste of its sweet-tart pulp onto my tongue, I assure myself that I have come damn far in the name of not trashing myself along with everything else that’s been destroyed and abused in this world. And honestly, that’s not nothing.
The amount of tired that I am today has nothing to do with lack of sleep. I am well rested. It has nothing to do with lack of caffeine either, lord knows. I’m on my third mug of coffee and feeling quite alert. Sitting here in my little writing room gazing out the window as the neighbors get into their cars and head to work. Wherever they work. I should be working, too. But fuck I am so tired. In my bones and my mind and my soul, heart, being. The children are dead. This country is a waste. A whole mother fucking waste. And I used to cry. And I used to march. And I just voted the other day, like a whole ass joke. Like a fucking fool. For whatever the fuck any of this bullshit is worth. I feel helpless, useless, hopeless. Worthless. I do not even feel anger. I can’t feel anything anymore. All the empty words. Words won’t fix this. Voices won’t fix it. All the sickening politics. Bloodthirsty. That’s what we are right here in the richest most fucking bankrupt country in all the world. It’s all murderous nonsense from every side. We have become a wasteland where no life is valued. It’s all traded for money or guns or power. Where kids don’t even want to exist. No one who can actually prevent this slaughter of children will do it. There’s no conscience. There’s just emptiness. I wonder what on earth matters anymore. Perhaps this is what despair feels like. Right here in the palms of my soul on a regular Thursday as the news reels roll on and on and fucking on. Perhaps this is what it’s like at the end of the emotional line. It’s just the same as any other day. Only where there used to be anything else, now there’s just hollow. And I’m too tired to write because there’s nothing to say. People are monsters. I saw a bit of a poem somewhere online yesterday as the poets took their swings and misses at effecting any kind of shock or awe or response to little or no avail. It said We are a monster. Yeah. That’s it.
What a fucking head trip getting sober is, man. It’s hard but you almost want it to stay that way if only because the challenge of it makes you focus. And there is something very soothing in having a focus that is so healthy, so benevolent and kind and strong, aimed right square at yourself and nobody else. I’m not sure there is any other experience like it. You have to claim it for yourself and that makes it entirely personal. You get into yourself like never before. I have written across the top of my journal the words: If I left it up to anyone else I would not be sober. Because no one was going to intervene. Only I had the problem and only I knew it. Only I could fix it.
People say they are ‘alcoholics’ or not but I feel like on some level that’s all just semantics. It’s all getting yourself snagged on the side of the drain when all you want to do is flush right on out into the glorious ocean. All you want is freedom. The labels either help you get there or they don’t, but freedom is the ultimate goal. Freedom to see everything clearly. To make life choices from a place of complete awareness and strength. Now, truth be told, at 144 days I am kind of looking around at some shit in my life and thinking why in the hell have I not changed this or that. What on earth have I let fester all these years.
But one thing you certainly get back in sobriety is time. Time to spend focused on getting what you want instead of dumping booze into your face and then recovering from the nasty side effects of that. What a stupid fucking gamble drinking is. Was. What a goddamn lot of time I wasted being wasted. I don’t even miss it.
All these years I thought I’d die without the drinks and now I realize they were killing me. I feel like being in recovery is wave after wave of sick twisted irony. All the shit I thought was happening wasn’t. All the shit I thought wasn’t happening was happening right in front of my eyes but I couldn’t see it. All the faith I put in glass after bottomless glass of wine was total utter trash. And even though I chose sobriety, even though it is now solidly, decidedly, mercifully mine through and through and it’s at the very center of everything that matters most to me in this life, I still can hardly believe I’ve done it.
Everything I write falls short of what I want to say. Fuck, it’s frustrating. I don’t want to have to but I can tell I’m going to have to renegotiate whatever unspoken agreement I previously had with my writing. Reconstruct a new kind of relationship with the thing inside me which desires to speak. Because wherever my words came from before does not exist anymore. Something dislodges when you first get sober, some big chunk of a thing that you thought was an essential part of you just suddenly breaks free like a giant iceberg and begins to sail right on off into the mist-covered ocean. You can almost hear it crack. That catastrophic sound slicing through the pristine arctic air, all alone where nobody in the whole world can see it or hear it or bear witness. Only you and the echo of whatever part of you that is ancient, timeless, and eternal. As that massive ice formation melts, it ebbs farther and farther away from you, leaving a gash in its place, a colossal empty space. Now that the addiction is quiet, there is a cut-out space in the side of my perception of myself. I used to have something to springboard from but now that home base is gone. If I try to start anything from that old version of me, I fall over the edge into nothingness. I need a new base camp. I need to reorganize some foundational internal shit or I’ll drown.
Any kind of addiction or abuse is an attempt to outrun the darkness inside of you. That may sound counterintuitive but it’s the truth. Nobody’s life is devoid of trauma, separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, maladaptive measures of self-destruction where there ought to be serenity.
Fuck ‘self-love’ and ‘self-care’ and all that fuzzy blanket bullshit. You have to go into the darkness you have been running from. The thing you were told was obscene. The thing that you were never allowed to speak about or express or acknowledge. The part of you you were told could not exist. But you knew it did. You knew it. That part of you that writhed inside, that they kept hacking away at but that always grew back louder with more heads and more teeth. The place inside of you you were told was grotesque, hideous, unclean. You were forbidden to look.
You know why they forbid it?
Because you will find yourself there. They didn’t want you to look because they were afraid you might find yourself there. And because they couldn’t bear the thought that parts of you were dark because if that were true about you, what did it say about them? Their keeping you from the shadow was their keeping you from yourself. But that’s the only way you will ever make peace with it. Not by getting out of it, by getting into it. You’ve got to crawl into your darkness. You have to get into where the sickness first began. Your sick inheritance.
Not so you can kill it off. You will never kill it off. What you want is to be able to peer into the eyes of it, the wound of it, understand it. Once it’s integrated into your own reconstruction of yourself, you own it. Dominate it. Become its master. Until you do, you can never comprehend the profound benevolence of that. The unfathomable power of being in command of yourself.