I tell my students, in the event of the apocalypse, do not try to save me. I’ve watched enough movies with natural disasters, post nuclear fallout, and aliens to know that a mild manner hero inevitably steps out from the rubble to save the day. That is not me. I am the woman screaming and running as the building comes crashing down on her. I am the red shirted lieutenant that never gets beamed back up. So, do not give me the back pack of provisions or hand me a gun. Just shove me in the path of the nearest zombies and save yourself.
I do not deal well with life, and it doesn’t have to be zombies. In fact, its usually the small things that seem the most insurmountable at times: work, bills, chores. And when life hits, I like to run and hide. I use to think if I just shut everything out, nothing could hurt me. By the time I was thirty, my inability to deal resulted in my daily drinking, hoping that my life would simply resolve itself of its own volition.
But then the worst happened. My drinking turned on me. Alcohol no longer became my means of escape but became the catalyst for new and prolonged damage. In my final days, my life was very bleak. I was broke, unemployed, unemployable. Even then, it was only when it became impossible to ignore the disaster that I put down the drink.
Those first days of sobriety were insanely scary. I was terrified. Knowing that living alone would result in my drinking again, I made the drastic decision to move into a halfway house. A couple weeks later, an AA gave me a job as a counter girl in a bakery. I fumbled my way through life for the first many weeks and months.
And every night, I would go to a meeting. Up there on the wall was the saying, “There’s no problem so big that a drink can’t make worse.” And I believed that. I believed that because my new life was so tenuous, one drink and it would all come crashing down around my head. One drink and I would be asked to leave sober living. One drink and I would be fired. One drink away from catastrophe.
And I think that is what people with time tend to forget. We get real jobs and real housing, and then all of a sudden life hits and we revert to our former habits. We forget that drinking makes everything worse. We start thinking that maybe we can escape reality just for a little while. All we would need is one tiny, little, sippy bottle of wine or a couple of beers.
Yesterday, life dealt me a blow. Though I had no desire to drink, I could feel myself wanting to retreat, run away, isolate. And I did, a little bit. Instead of cleaning my house and working on my writing, I crawled into bed and took a nap. When I awoke to a dark room and absolute quiet, I stayed there for an extra hour playing Trivia Crush unwilling to break out of my cocoon.
After a while, though, I did. I just swung my feet from the over the precipice of the bed to the floor and rejoined society. Because as much as I want to revert to my prior behaviors when times get tough, I know the old behaviors are just that, old. They do not work. Its not just that “There is no problem so big that a drink can’t make worse,” its ” There’s no problem so big that my mind can’t make worse.” Today I know I cannot run from life or isolate from pain. I have to face my monsters head on. So, as much as I hate it the idea, hand me the wooden stake and the garlic. I’m ready.