Autobiography · Relationships

Alone

I tell Andrew it was a lonely day. Not the kind of loneliness that comes with not being around people, with your phone not ringing. The kind that sits down in your bones and reminds you that no one will notice if you don’t come home. The kind I’d managed to avoid for most of my life. Either with partners who had keys to our front door, or a family that shared meals, or glasses of Jim Beam and Newport cigarettes. I filled that empty space. It did not surface, did not hold sway. It did not catch me standing in my kitchen like it did yesterday.

But there is a certain beauty to it. Finally realizing that everything I do is for my own best interest. That I finally get to be honest about who I am, about what I like, about my passions. It is a grand unearthing disguised as simplicity. I ask for help from Nadine to make a shopping list. “What do I like to eat?” I’ve forgotten how to conduct life for just me. Not sure if I ever knew exactly how to begin with. Always hid it from myself under a layer of trips to the bar and wrapping my arms around strangers. Now it’s just me. Alone. I attack the life in front of me, I sink in my teeth.

Start running again. Find a gym I can lift in for the first time in close to ten months. I take my list to the grocery store and buy food that is nourishing and makes me happy. I cook dinner for myself and share it only when I want to. In the morning I sit at the kitchen table and drink a cup of coffee in solitude. I make conscious decisions about everything I do and think hard about whether or not it benefits me. What is the underlying goal here? Are you doing this because you want someone to think or feel something specific about you or do you want to, like to, need to do this? I answer the questions I never even thought to ask before. I answer the questions I once relied on other people to answer for me.

My friends, my family, my partner. They back me. Stand in my corner and make sure I continue to face the right direction. That I don’t quit. That I keep my eyes open for signs of slipping. They keep me honest. Push me when I need pushing and don’t accept answers like, “I’m fine.” But they never do it for me. Never even offer. I hold space for them in my life, but it is not at my own expense anymore. I make room for them, but I do not push out my own loves and needs and wants to do it. I do not compromise myself. I do not buckle when I feel like maybe someone is asking me to.

In the grocery store I stand in the liquor aisle wondering if I’m going to make it to year three of my sobriety. Wondering if the vastness of living my own life will leave me raw and searching for crutches. I clutch tight to my necklace that’s engraved with my date–12.29.13–and shake the feeling off again. I am not the same person who didn’t know how to face this. I am not the woman who was afraid of the pieces that make her.

Photo courtesy of Artem Verbo.

Mental Health

Cage

"籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)" © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)” © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
I take a shower. Change the sheets. Wipe down counters. Try to find my footing and start wondering if I’d even recognize stability.

Sweating. Vision blurry. My breath is shallow in my chest. My mind can’t get its claws in anything.

“Come on. Focus. You’re okay.”

A truck outside honks its horn and I scream, dropping my glass of water into the sink. Constantly jumping. Firing on all cylinders.

“Come on, kid. Breathe.”

Pacing back and forth in my apartment, digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands.

“You’re okay. You’ve been sick. Stuck inside. That’s all this is.”

Boil water. Make peppermint tea. Settle onto the couch and pull my legs up under me.

Sleeping twelve hours a day. Trying to get well physically and I can feel my mind tightening. A spindle already holding too much yarn and doesn’t know what to do with the excess.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll feel better. I’ll leave the house. Talk to someone. Stretch my legs. Get some sun. Stop understanding why caged animals gnaw off their own limbs.

Autobiography

Night swimming in Puget Sound

"Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach" © Ingrid Taylarg, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach” © Ingrid Taylar, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
After meeting with Alyssa, I decided to take a walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Inspected the yards of strangers, admired well-tended gardens and the last remaining Christmas decorations. I soaked up the quiet. The kind of thing you never realize you’re missing until you stumble on it again. How easy it was to hear my own footsteps, my own breath.

The scent of a new fence swept across a lawn. Cedar. That smell is forever tied to the summer my family made baidarkas in a friend’s workshop. I was too young to handle power tools, to build something, so I spent my time running around outside. I’d slide down the muddy embankment to the nearby creek. Then I’d roll my pant legs, wade up out into the water, and get all my clothing soaking wet. Bend over and hang my hands in the water, stay motionless as my fingers and toes grew numb, hoping to catch a fish, a tadpole, anything. Continue reading →