What is so hard to understand? I wonder. Why doesn’t he fucking get it? I think silently, but don’t say out loud – because that sounds harsh and unforgiving and really just, bitter. But, truly, I am not bitter, no matter what it sounds like, this is actually incredibly compassionate, and even deeper, tender and loving. Because I want you to know the world I know.
The world that began the day I said no to everything that wanted to keep me stuck in a place of loneliness and fear and self-pity – and all-nighters full of pills and cocaine, and broken mirrors, and marathons of bad TV, and men who hurt me, and behaviors that didn’t suit me.
The day I said no to a life I did not create, but created me.
I want to say this was not supposed to be my life, as I have always said, and will continue to think. But, that’s an old story and one that’s been overplayed, by me, for far too long.
So, here I am. Looking at you, looking at me. I am listening to the way your words slur and your eyes droop and I am staring into nights of me – past nights, where I swallowed Vicodin and Xanax and thought no one could see.
But, I see you. And I am sad for you. I am sad for all of us, here. All of us who think this behavior is normal. Those who look at what you swallow, not for what it truly is, but for what society tells you it is.
I know change starts with me. And I have changed, but what is my place? And how can I ask or even push change on those who just don’t see, who can’t even understand that what they swallow is actually poison, it is a drug – it is ethanol, it is gasoline.
It is where the beauty ends and the ugly begins.
And I know, who am I to judge? Who am I to preach what I once never practiced? How do I exist in this space and what right do I have to tell you, the normal one, the one “without a problem” to open your fucking eyes and awaken to the life that begins inside?
The life that begins when we stop using a substance to change our perception of our life and our ourselves, and more so not only change the perception of the pain, but the joy. You are missing out on so much joy. Not surface level joy, like the kind you are currently getting, but real joy – the kind of joy that happens when you face everything that happens to you, fully present, fully open, and even more scary, fully aware.
We have similar reactions, you and I. They are familiar to me. And I know them. But, you swallow alcohol and I swallowed pills and one is looked at as normal and accepted and celebrated and a past-time and another is looked at as bad, and no good, and something you should just “say no” to.
Why can’t you say no and wake up to your life?
I know, “it is not a problem.” You don’t have a problem like I do. You didn’t do those unspeakable acts and you were never forced into situations to get well, because you are not that bad, and you are not like me. And plus, I am just bitter. Because I can’t drink or won’t drink.
That is the story I am always told.
But, it’s not real. It’s not the truth. I am not bitter. I am sad. I am confused. I wonder why we both swallowed poison, and looked the same, but you are told your poison is OK. You are normal. You are fun. You look like me when I was high, but you are drunk, and so it’s OK. It’s OK because the drug you are drinking is normal. You don’t see it the way I do – the way you are allowing ethanol to eat at your bones and your heart.
I want so deeply for you to know the life I know.
It is a life full of richness and heaviness and gratitude beyond belief. It is a night that does not involve a glass of wine at dinner. Or a margarita here and there. It is a night where you can sit at dinner, with your family, and tear up, because you are so alive, and you are connected on a level so deep, that you can hear God in every little heartbeat of your child. In every second. Of every day.
Because, you are not subdued or de-sensitized, because you practice compassion and self-forgiveness and awareness and growth and evolution, like it’s your job. Like your job is to wake up to your life. It is your one goal and your only mission. It is what brings you joy. It is what wakes you up in the morning. And you do not forget this goal, because your love has grown ten-fold and you can’t help not crying when you think of the gift you have been given.
It is the gratitude of sobriety. It is the best gift you could ever be given.
And I could write about it for days, but it wouldn’t be enough. Because there are no words that can explain the beauty of waking up. It is only the essence that can be told.
And I wonder, when I look at you, if you would even know beauty the way I know beauty. Because your eyes have not seen what my eyes have. Because you have not been cold, and locked away, and forced to apologize to yourself and others, over and over, for mistakes you can only attempt to make right.
But, just know this. You are here, looking at me. And I am here, looking at you. And there is an ocean around us. There is a universe beyond. And when I squeeze your hand gently, you do not feel it, because you can no longer feel anything. In this moment, you can’t feel, and to me, that means you aren’t really here.
And in the morning I’ll wake, and you’ll wake and you’ll kiss my face because you are a man full of love. And you won’t remember how gently I squeezed your hand, and you’ll claim how beautiful last night was, and I’ll weep silently, knowing you were never fully there..
…. wondering if I am the only one who is TRULY HERE.