“Hey, kiddo,” my dad says to me over the phone. My whole body becomes sunshine for a moment. “I don’t even know what time it is these days. It’s either light or dark,” he tells me when I ask when he’ll be at our new apartment.
“I feel that. It’s five o’clock all day, and then it’s suddenly time for bed.”
Quitting coffee for the second time this year was not timed well. Setting the clocks back is exhausting, caffeine withdrawals doubly so. As a result, I’ve been a walking shell for the last week.
It’s an accomplishment whenever I get out of bed, shower, get dressed. A day I remember to feed myself without Mason having to remind me is marked down as a success.
My writing has became a leaky faucet, drip by drip I work on three different projects. Mostly I just stare at the screen.
Started watching TV again. Lay on the couch underneath a soft, teal blanket and stare at the box as if I’m actually capable of keeping track of the plot line.
The train takes me out to the opposite side of the city and I run from the stop to the office of my new psychiatric nurse. For an hour and a half he asks me questions. “You’re on all these medications and you really don’t feel any better?”
“Some days. Maybe. A little. I don’t know. It’s hard to judge.”
He listens intently to all my answers and begins his wrap up with, “I want to take you off basically all of these, but first we have to find one thing that works.”
Each word felt like he was unburying me. Another brick lifted off my legs. I knew I’d cry if I said anything more than, “Yes, please.”
Holy smokes, today’s the day, y’all. The digital and paper copies of my brand new book, Unrailed, are now available for purchase on Amazon.
Recently, I told you all about this collection and how proud I am of it. Today, I thought I’d share a selection from it. An earlier version of this piece first appeared on one of my favorite blogs, Running on Sober. It was also my first piece to be featured on Freshly Pressed.
I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into Unrailed. If so, please consider picking up a copy.
At least once during the course of any given day I’m going to think, “This is it. This is when I relapse.”
Maybe it’s when I’m walking home from work. The sun kissing my shoulders and I’m not sure if I have anyone to come home to yet. Maybe it’s when we’ve closed up the office and my colleagues have gone out to bars or met up for dinner dates. Maybe it’s when I’m taking my lunch at the park and everyone has their toes in the grass, a beer in their hand. Those quiet little moments that make me feel like I don’t belong anywhere sneak up on me.
A pint of lager in her hand, she asks me, “Does it bother you when I drink around you? I mean, you’ve never said anything, so I assume not, but I figured I should ask or something…” Her voice trails off as I press my lips to one side and nod in appreciation.
“Nah. I mean, I made the choice to be here and I knew y’all would be drinking. It doesn’t bother me.” And it’s not a lie. At least, I need it not to be. It’s true that I can always just turn down the invitation to these outings. But while we’re talking about it, I’m playing out what my relapse is going to look like.
It’s going to be a summer day, just like this one. Just warm enough for a dress and cowboy boots. A little bit of cloud cover, so sunglasses are an option, not a necessity. The sidewalk cafés are going to be full of smiling people just off work. Everyone eating two-for-one tacos and taking shots of tequila. I’ll have had a moderate day. Not particularly awful or stressful or even interesting.
I’ll lock up and start walking home. Wonder what Mason is working on, if he’s home, how his day was. Flip through my phone to see if anyone sent an invitation that didn’t start with, “I know you don’t drink, but…” Brush my fingertips along the mortar between the bricks of buildings.
It will occur to me how exhausted I am. How tired I am of saying, “No, thanks. I don’t drink.” Or maybe lacking the motivation to even say that, and instead just shaking my head, hoping they don’t press. Tired of feeling like I’m living on a completely different plane of existence than everyone I work with or befriend.
So sick of how during summertime the living is supposed to be easy, but only because everyone has a frosty, boozy beverage in hand. Everything will start to feel so unfathomably big again. The unbearable heaviness of sobriety. A lifetime of excluding myself from the things other people have no problem with. I’ll take a deep breath, I’ll peek over my shoulder, and I’ll whisper, “I can’t do this.”
Then I’ll duck into a corner store and buy a bottle of bourbon and a pack of cigarettes. Walk down to the lake or the park under the freeway and find a bench. Put my headphones in and blast an album that tugs at my heart and makes me feel like punching through walls. And I’ll sit there and I’ll drink and I’ll smoke and repeat to myself over and over again, “You knew you couldn’t do this. You knew you couldn’t do this. You knew…” It will take me hours to work up the courage to go home again.
But that day wasn’t today. Today I ordered club soda with muddled lime instead. Today I sat on the patio of the dive bar next to the office and I listened to my colleagues laugh. Today I got through it. Tomorrow I’ll get through it again.