Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Falling Off the Wagon and Into Your Arms

One of my favorite new activities is sitting in my quiet apartment in front of my computer and putting things in my mouth. I like to have fifteen different internet tabs going at the same time, three different downloads, and, for good measure, Microsoft Word running, so I can pretend I'm writing or doing homework. I also make tea, eat cookies, chocolate, ice cream, and pasta. Some people call this ADD, but the people who treat me gently, like psychics and therapists, like to call it "multi-tasking."

Tonight I'm distracting/rewarding myself by focusing all my non-eating attention on this 2-3 day trip with Love Affair. So far I want to go to Mexico, Yosemite, Mono Lake, and Big Sur, and hike in the desert, the mountains, along the ocean, get a massage and a facial, relax, drive, and not be cold for one single second. In the middle of January. I also want us to make a soul connection so deep that it is unquestionable our lives will be inextricably, romantically intertwined forever and ever and ever. Also, we are both students, so this trip should cost very little money.

Apparently quitting smoking has made me delusional in more ways than one. I also thought it was okay to smoke cigarettes four nights in a row last week, twice with the sorta predestined notion that if I got drunk enough to not remember that I had quit, it wouldn't be like cheating. My NicA meeting today was especially effective in showcasing my weakness and shame. But god I love recovering addicts; they are so positive and supportive.

At today's meeting I had a flashback when the woman next to me said her perfunctory "Hi, my name is Seriously, and I'm a nicotine addict." There are a lot of people in this city are named Seriously, and it confuses me. I feel like once a day, someone yells "Seriously!" to someone standing within seven inches of me. I've never met so many Seriouslys in all my life. Anyhow, the first time this happened to me was when I was institutionalized for one hot minute, and this woman came into the smoking lounge during one of our two 30-minute smoke breaks. She sat right down next to me, which was bizarre because she wasn't from The Ward and none of us knew her. But she knew who We were, and she said, in a parody of The Ward (from which it was obvious that she had been recently discharged), "Hi, I'm Seriously, bi-polar, manic-depressive," and she stuck out her hand, and I said then as I did today, "Uh...me too?" Moments like that act as horrifying mirrors into your soul because you realize that despite all these horrible problems you think you have that drive you to attend 12-step programs or to self-incarcerate aren't so unique; in fact they're so commonplace that they have these systems in place for a reason. And when someone says EXACTLY what you were about to say, then you feel foolish for repeating the same thing, so you just stare back at them like a baby seeing its reflection for the first time. Except the baby that looks back at you is haggard, just like you.

After the meeting I treated myself with a trip to Whole Foods, where I allowed assorted yuppies to bang into me with their miniature shopping carts, and purchased three-dollar organic chocolate bars with love poems printed on the interior of the wrapper.

In the arms of chocolate and dreams of Love Affair, I thought about two wonderful conversations I had last night with two friends from San Francisco, Sharp and Sleepwalker. Sharp is an old co-worker whom I almost want to name Too Sharp, because the things he says to me are so on point that sometimes I wonder if he's just humoring me. He seems to know exactly what I want to hear. Did you ever tell someone about your deepest and darkest fear, and then forgot about it? Like have you ever been at a bar wasted, and then reveal, for example, this dream you had, then you woke up and realized your life is spinning out of control and that you're clinging onto your deadbeat boyfriend for distraction? Not only do you forget you told that person, you forget this crowning realization altogether. Then, weeks later, that person said to you, "It sounds like you really fear that your life is spinning out of control and that you're using your boyfriend as a distraction." And you look at them like they're the most insightful genius ever? That is how I feel about Sharp all the time. Sometimes I realize that he's just a very good listener to all of the many things I say, but other times I think that he's just very intuitive, and he knows exactly how I feel, and what to say to make me feel good about the world. He had so much news to tell me that I couldn't really explore any one topic; I kind of just let it all wash over me as a package of "San Francisco News." Sharp is also a very good confidante. I never realized how important it is for me to have a confidante because I'm a very open person. I kind of think that secrets lead to shame and shame leads to self-deprecation, so I try not to have any secrets. I also feel like by sharing the burden of my issues, it really lightens the load on me. Like if everyone knows that I'm slipping at quitting, it's okay, because I'm not trying to hide it, and now people will know what I'm going through and they won't smoke around me, or they won't make fun of me because they know it's hard. A few years ago, however, I ran into my first thing that I needed to share that I couldn't, because it involved someone else, and I found out the hard way that some people actually try to maintain some sort of privacy. For me, privacy is an illusion. Anyhow, that's why I wanted to have a secret blog, so I could write about anything and everyone, and nobody would get upset. But then, what use is it telling your problems to a wall? You need people to respond, and it's so much better when it's people you know, because then you actually care. Confidantes are so very important. That's why it's nice to have separate social circles sometimes. We all need confidantes. I need several. We all need support, and it's so important and wonderful when you find people to fulfill these vital roles.

I was a little alarmed at some developments of which Sharp apprised me involving our friend Sleepwalker, so I called her up too, and we had a great talk that ended up being a pep talk to stop being such alcoholics. At one point though, we started talking about not knowing what we were doing with our lives, and because she is facing a potential layoff, about job security. I told her to stay doing what she was doing because she likes it, and no job is ever really secure. My parents are doctors, I said, and I remember them constantly talking about moving to Canada whenever shit with the health care system was called into question. And...maybe there's no solution, there's no security, and there aren't any answers to any of these problems. We just accept the uncertainty of it all and talk about television.

Despite our lapses into alcoholism, running from crazy bitches who want to kill us for no reason, and adolescent angst about the purpose of life, we are more or less having adult conversations. It dawned on me then that maybe these thoughts about Life are what cause us not to care about neighborhood melodrama, and, addictions in mind, our individual lives. Maybe, just maybe, that's what separates the men from the boys and then the men from the Men. Boys have melodrama; men have Life struggles, and Men live life.

I don't know where I fall. I have a vagina.


Papagayo said...

Today I went walking in the woods with the dog, and upon coming upon the pond, I realized I've excised peace from my life almost entirely. I let all sorts of little things bother and upset me, I make plans and excuses while lying in bed, I *want* so much. My greatest fear is that my best just isn't good enough. Rejection looms heavily in this way of thinking; I have to let go. I have to be enough for myself, and I think you do too.

brian said...

Wow Steph that was actually a really amazing post. Keep'em coming.


Luis Celestino said...

NO, you have a Vagina.