Waves. Of anger, fear, frustration, sorrow, regret, anxiety. All of these feelings that I have thrown a drink on for the last few years. This is what I have to learn again. I find it remarkable that I survived the death of my father, the loss of a longterm relationship and my job…all of that in six months when I was 28 years old…and I survived it without alcohol.
Yet somehow 10 years later I just broke down and couldn’t tolerate one more emotion. Maybe the small indignities of adult life were a few pebbles too many in my pack and my knees finally buckled. Maybe I had kept walking all those years because to keep trying was all I knew to do but finally there was one disappointment, one heartbreak, one injustice too many and I collapsed under the collective weight of it all. Maybe I got tired and I didn’t want to walk anymore. So I just sat the fuck down with a bottle of wine, beer, vodka, whiskey, whatever would take the edge off.
When I was drinking, every uncomfortable emotion seemed like that awful scene in The Perfect Storm where the little fishing boat is being motored up a huge black wave by George Clooney screaming “come on, you bitch!” before the boat tumbles backwards and is lost to the sea. Insurmountable. Bleak. Foreboding. I am relearning what it is to feel an uncomfortable emotion and to let it pass over me. To see it coming straight for me and not run or struggle so hard against it that I drown.
Some are gentle little hiccups that equate to nothing more than a small wave rolling under me, dropping and lifting me ever so slightly. Some are kind of violent and they get saltwater up my nose and it stings but the pain goes away pretty quickly. But whether they are going under me or over me, they all pass on by. None of them stay right there to beat me over the head and kill me.
I had a dreadful frustrating day at work. Not one time did I wish I could go home to a bloody mary at the end of the day. I’m not going to destroy MY happiness because someone else is horrible. Living this is a momentous occasion. I have always veered toward punishing myself for the ills of everyone and everything. I don’t want to do that anymore.
No matter what came for me today, I let it roll by. I did not make it to the gym because I am too tired after the last 36 hours of chaos in the workplace and my feet are killing me. But I did go by the market and pick up a good healthy meal, come home, hug my dog and put clean sheets on the bed. Which is where I am now, marveling at the feeling of calm that gathers if let those emotions pass under and over. Maybe all those years ago my fight was what kept me alive. Tonight, though, I think it’s time to stop fighting the world quite so hard. The universe just might use a wave to push me where I need to be if I’ll stop fighting it.