**First of all, I want to thank all of you who commented on my blog, way back in April, May, and even June (!) and took the time to reassure me and encourage me, and even compliment me as well. I’m sorry I disappeared again, although in a strange way, I knew that y’all “knew” where I was, or at least could guess, and would probably wait for my return without judgment. I have continued to read the blogs, listen to the Bubble Hour, bookmark links and so on. It was as if, in a way, I was doing my theory before starting my practicum. Well. I think the time to begin has come. So thanks again to you all, for being an inspiration I could come back to. I hope one day soon I can come out from behind the veil of anonymity, and link up my public blog with this one. Eeek!! (shall walk before I run perhaps; Wish you all well in your respective journeys too)***
The post that follows this little intro was written about 6 weeks ago. I had always intended to post it as an update to this fast-becoming-a-wasteland of a blog, but life got busy. I got “high-functioning” again. Then, 3 days ago, I had my fill. Literally, and metaphorically. Of course regrets were involved – but not huge ones. I mean, I’ve suffered through far worse hangovers, plagued for days and sometimes even weeks afterwards by the memories of things I said and did. So it is surprising in a way, that my resolve to “Quit for Good” came after such a minor episode.
But I suppose I really was full. Full to the brim and overflowing and ready to turn off the tap. Finally. The last 6 months I have tried desperately to hang on to the notion that I could find a way to become a moderate drinker. You can tell by my last post “Ode to Alcohol” that that was the star I was wishing upon.
So that’s where I’ve been for the past 6 months – just proving to myself I really can’t. I did cut down. I did occasionally manage to stick to 3 or 4 drinks over the course of an evening. But not usually – and only with great, great pain and effort. All the time, I wanted more. I wanted to be drunk. I like being drunk. Who am I kidding, that 2 glasses of wine over dinner is ever going to satiate me?
I have written a post about where I am right now, but I will post that in a few days. In the meantime, I wanted to give you a snapshot of one of my final “farewells” to my jilted lover, written (clearly) under the influence. Which is also why I must apologise for the rather excessive use of profanity!
======Approx two months ago=====
The self-hatred is immense. It smothers me like a blanket so that even my daughter’s declarations of love sound muffled to my ears.
“I love you one thousand million times, Mummy!” but it is like she is speaking to me underwater.
I am such a fraud. Playing happy families as though any part of this facade comes naturally to me. Or makes any sense. I am the lyrics to the song by Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime” asking “My God, what have I done?”.
I stay afloat by attributing value to tasks that most people would consider worthless. I store up credits in a currency that buys absolutely nothing. The worst part is, it’s invisible. Who will notice that the video files are named and in date order? In a format that can be easily exported? Is it necessary to store up duplicate copies of photos, backing them up and backing them up as though in doing so I am hoarding the evidence that it ever happened at all? But of course, for what am I, if not the sum of 12 external hard drives?
Pity that hard drives fail. That their data becomes corrupted. That over time, new formats supersede the old ones and technical support is withdrawn by their makers. Like children from a first marriage, old platforms are left to fend for themselves. Take those floppy discs I stored up, labelling them with smokescreen names that would throw anyone off the scent should they come looking. I needn’t have bothered. The content those discs hold is as lost to me as to anyone. I did not exist then at all, for all I know.
I can’t even do the minimum well anymore. I used to pride myself on meals well made. On the smell of freshly baked cakes wafting from the kitchen into the hallway like tunes from a flute. If I go really far back, I can recall a time that I smuggled love notes into the glad wrapped-Afghan biscuits I sent to work with my husband. We were just married then. I didn’t know what to do with myself, alone with him all the time. I needed a project, lest he see me for real. Kids would do as well as anything else. This is ridiculous. Here’s me interviewing myself:
Me, the Interrogator: “Can you state your name for the record please”
Me, the Accused: “________ __________”
I: “And how much have you had to drink tonight, miss?”
A: “1 oversize can of beer”
I: “And how do you feel?”
A: “Like shit”
I: “Why is that?”
A: “Because I feel unworthy.”
I: “Unworthy of what?”
A: “Of being here at all.”
I: “Where are you going?”
A: “To get another drink.”
I: “So you’ve poured another beer. Is that going to help?”
A: “No. It will momentarily suspend my pain. It will numb me from the inside out, temporarily. And tomorrow I will be hungover and no better off for it.”
I: “So why bother?”
A: “Because it’s a way of staying, when I can’t stay. A way of being here, when every fibre in my body is telling me to flee.”
I: “So why don’t you just go, then?”
A: “It’s like I’m running a race. That race. I was 11 years old and I was supposed to win. I had been tipped to win the whole season long. The nerves were eating me up. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even allow myself to go to the toilet in one guilty release – instead I forced myself to stop the flow for four seconds at a time. In agony, I counted the seconds out. “One. You will win. Two. You will win. Three. You will win. Four. You will win.” Releeassee…. oh, the pleasure. But stop! And begin again… “One. You will win…..”
When the leading pack began to stretch away from me, before the first 500 meters was even up, a torrent gushed forth from inside and I could not stop the flow. “You will lose!” the traitor within me shrieked. The other girls surged ahead of me on a tide I could not even follow let alone catch. “You’ve lost!!” shrilled a voice from my depths with unmasked glee. In that instant, as my legs registered the lead that clamped the muscles in shut down, I realised that my mind had turned against my body in a coup as surprising as it was profound. My teeth came down, hoping for the tangible flesh of lips with which to send a jolt of sweet metal to my heart. But there was nothing there. Nothing but the most haunting, incongruous melody of hilarity, relief and unending self-hatred. My mouth was open, lips peeled back in a noiseless cry. As my jaw closed upon itself over and over again, clamping air, I understood that it was not enamel I sought to grind into oblivion, but me. The very idea of me.
I: “You’re melodramatic to the point of nausea.”
A: “I know.”
I: “Maybe the drink does you good.”
A: “Cheers to that!”
I: “And off you go with beer number 3. 500ml cans, 5.2%. You don’t mess around.”
A: “Actually. Beer is a salve, something with which to nurse wounds with gentle loving care. When I want to get drunk and not think, I’ll use vodka. When I want to annihilate myself from the planet, I’ll reach for the whiskey. When I want to conjure happiness from the crevices of cold stony walls, it is wine who knows me and pushes me forth with flowers and pop music, like only a best friend can.”
I: “You’re a consummate professional, I’ll give you that.”
A: “Fuck you. You’re just a voice in my fucking head.”
I: “That’s right. A voice reminding you that as you line up your weapons of self-loathing, with a tenderness that an old woman tends her roses, your eldest kid just put his siblings to bed. He read them stories, tucked them in, and planted kisses on their cheeks. He also just snuck out here to you, to squeeze your weeping shoulders and to whisper “Moo Moo!” (this being secret mother-son code for “I love you”)
A: “Fuck you.”
I: “No. Fuck you. That race occurred more than 20 years ago. Who gives a shit about that now? What does that even matter, with three kids sleeping soundly in the rooms behind you?”
A: “I can still remember the sensation in my legs as if it was yesterday. The sensation of stopping.”
I: “So what?! For god’s sake, is there a point?”
A: “Energy stored, energy spent, and limbs left weak and trembling afterwards. I remember how I put my hands on my hips and walked to the finish line, knowing that everyone was pointing and whispering behind their hands. I searched for my Dad along every single step of the course’s perimeter. As if somehow he might be there to see me lose even though he had never ever been there to see me win.”
I: “Nice one. On to beer number 5 now. Wow is you. Great analogies by the way. You’re really working on the allegory aren’t you?”
A: “I wondered, you know, is there a point to finishing the race, if you’re not running? My Mum thought not. She tore me up when I finally crossed the line, in last place. I had shamed her. She waved her arms scandalously in front of the eagerly onlooking crowds. She yelled without restraint then sent me from her presence like a dog that had just shat on the carpet. It wasn’t so much the losing, as the walking that she abhorred. Admitting defeat was something she could not condone. The lack of fight in me horrified her. Perhaps it would have been better to just slip off the track at a lonely point and disappear unnoticed into the fog.”
I: “You felt that finishing the race, in whatever form, at whatever cost, was the right thing to do.”
I: “But you think that your mother thinks that you are weak because of it.”
A: “The irony is of course that I could have ran that day, but I could only have ran away. Across the boundary fence and into the horizon. Believe me, I wanted to do it with every fibre of my soul. But I stayed in the race, just as a man on death row puts one foot in front of the other on his way to the gallows. Yes. It was the right thing to do.”
I: “Your Mum says that all this stuff about your past is a croc. She doesn’t even talk to you anymore. She’s written you off. Worst of all, you prefer it this way. You hated it when she loved you. Her love strangled you, you said.”
A: “Maybe that’s true. What does any of my current state of instability have to do with my Mum? Boiling it all down to a running race two decades ago? How can I lay all my deep unhappiness at my mother’s door step? Surely a father is to blame – lord knows I had three before I was 20. But if not them, then maybe it’s just genetics. The unique composition of DNA that ensures that I will become a disciple of alcohol, faithful to my bitter end.
Or perhaps my ineptitude to do anything right is merely the accumulation of sins. Maybe my pain today is simply the logical debt payable after the four years my Grandfather spent as a POW in Korea during the second world war. Or perhaps, more likely, my pain is the wager laid down by my Grandmother, who at 17 vowed that she would not cripple herself over the loss of one child. Her firstborn, her beloved, given up for adoption when she was not much older than a child herself. That she went on to have 5 other children mattered naught. Does it matter who sent her to pay for her mistakes in the form of electroshock therapy, deep in the chambers of Kingseat hospital, or simply that she paid?”
I: “They’re all good questions”
A: “Or am I just me. Just the simple sum of my simple parts?”
I: “You drink as if perhaps the answer lies at the bottom of that can.”
A: “Two days ago I just about blew the speakers in the car, screaming the mindless words of some pop song into my sunglasses case-cum-mic while rolling the actions out with both hands. As in, no hands on the steering wheel. That my kids were embarrassed only encouraged me more. ‘How much they will love these memories!!’, I thought to myself. ‘I am no ordinary mother! Yes, I am flawed, but I’m funnnnnn! I do crazy with a capital C!’.
Of course no-one was laughing when, a few days later, I could barely see the road for my tears. My ten year old, desperate to quell the flow, searched in vain for the song that would pull me back from the brink and return the pizzaz to my white-knuckled hands gripping the steering wheel. And the more he asked what’s wrong Mum, don’t cry Mum, what happened to you? The more I flagellated myself inside. I sat myself in the corner and I stood over me. I demanded: “FIX THIS!!!!” I shouted “You’re just making it worse with your oh-so-sorry-for-myself BULLSHIT!!! Don’t fucking cry!!! Don’t let your kid see you crying like this, you fucking worthless sack of SHIT!!! FIX IT NOW YOU FUCKING WHORE!!!!”.
I: Crazy with a capital C alright.
A: “The way I saw my options then, in that race twenty years ago, is the same way I see my options now. The winning pack has passed me and I cannot hope to catch them. My only options are these: To stay in the race, limping home under a cloud of shame, or slipping off the track when no-one is watching.” I can’t slip off the track. I won’t. But the only way of staying, is with the drink.”