“Are you the victorious one, the self-conqueror, the ruler of your passions, the master of your virtues?…Or does the animal speak in your wish, and necessity?…Laugh not at such marriages! What child has not had reason to weep over its parents?…But even your best love is only an enraptured simile and a painful ardour…Beyond yourself shall you love some day! Then learn first of all to love.”
I have been on a painful, invigorating journey for the majority of this year.
I didn’t know I had made up my mind before I had even begun. I had a few drinks. Not unusual for me. My sister and I, along with two co-workers were at a bar. I was already out of place, because I was supposed to have been with a different group of people altogether. I had just done a job jump. It was a scary move for me, but at the urging of my sister that life would be so much better, I went for it. She had worked so hard and gained the trust of these people so well that my boss didn’t even know my full name on that first day of work.
I was struggling with texts coming from a former colleague, an art professional that I thought was pretty awesome, yet tended on the side of micromanagement of events and she finally got to the point where she broke me into hiding because I couldn’t handle the pressure of determining my exact moment in space and time at the exact moment that would coincide with hers. I was too busy trying to people please these new folks into believing my sister was right in the push to offer me a place to showcase my expertise.
In all of this, I resorted to the thing that has always carried me when my voice was unable to speak for its own. Alcohol, and letting my sister parade me, direct me, persuade me.
But something strange happened. Not right away. The events in the beginning were the same as I had experienced before. I drank just enough to quit giving a shit about anything that could be happening anywhere except the place directly in front of me. And it just so happens that the space directly in front of me held a man. A beautiful man.
I am not knew to the flirting game. I was married at the time and committed, not exactly happy but sure that it was the rest of my life. I had already tried my hand at seeing how far I could push those boundaries to find happiness within the confines of the rules. His and societies, along with the rules that guilt placed to squeeze me into the submission that comes with 2 children, a house, a dog and 2 cats.
But I had no one to answer to in that moment because there was just enough alcohol flowing through my body to help me. And so I acted like a fool. The fool I am when I don’t care who is watching. When I don’t care who can tell me I am wrong. I danced, I laughed and I had one of the best nights I had had in years.
Then I woke up.
Normally, I would have spent the next morning fretting and figuring out how to atone to my wrongdoings. But something inside me changed. I looked at my sister, who had been fighting with her other half the night before for the same wrongdoings. Being out too late, drinking, and talking to members of the opposite sex. I sat up slowly. I laughed at the weird things I did in the middle of the night, because my dreams were so fucked up that I found myself at one point next to her side of the bed trying to open the door, that was really a wall. Only not unusual becomes my dreams, which I should have guessed were trying to wake me up all along, had been so unusual for the past, who knows how long.
I had no guilt. Zero. None.
The only thing I felt at that point was that I did not want to continue being the fake that I had been up until that night.
I had spent my whole life doing what I was told. Only did I act like myself in short bursts when alcohol gave me the permission, or maybe rather, the excuse, to behave in the way I wanted to behave every single day.
I didn’t know I made the decision that day, but I did. Yet, I still went home and tried for as long as I could stand, to pretend to be “perfect” again.
I don’t regret my decision. But I do wish I hadn’t been so stifled in my identity that in order to find myself, I would need to abandon everyone else but me. I was physically present for my own children, but emotionally I was a fake. I hope it provided them at least enough stability to let them know they were loved through it all.
I also lost my best friend. Only she never really was my best friend. I was her shadow. Her tag along. I thought I had lost that identity in childhood, but really it was only morphed into a strange adult monstrous version that fell apart in a slow progression of hurtful words and self-protecting actions.
Except in the state of all this war between she and I, I missed something. With the help of one of the wisest girls I know, I learned that to some of the souls who were born into my life, I was more than her shadow. I meant something. I was just as important to this young person as she was to me. I have children other than my own. They belonged to my sister and to my brothers too. Yet, from the moment they were born, I felt as if they were my heart and soul just as I felt that of my own children.
I failed them. I was the parent they had to weep over. I took away their idea of a loving marriage. I took away their idea of a loving parent. Because I was too self-centered. I have no excuse. But I do. Although it’s one they won’t understand until they also realize that us “adults” are simple messed up children too.
I hope I have gotten to the point where I can own the fact that I should have been able to begin my journey at 18 where any normal person would. Yet, I wasn’t raised in a normal home nor with normal parents. I got dealt a different deal, that I won’t share yet because I don’t like to hurt others.
Yet, those young souls should know that they were the ones that saved me. Without their existence, I would never have taken the steps to be a person they could look up to. I saw my son hurt with the friendships he was choosing and I looked at myself and saw the example I had set. I hope that they can all accept my apologies. I hope they will all know that although the decision to finally make a change and look for true love was an external decision that began with the idea that I could set a good example for them, it turned into a selfish journey that led many stupid nights full of ridiculous animal behavior but ultimately it led to a true love I never even knew was possible. One between myself and a higher power I had never met. Now I dance, I laugh, and I do whatever I choose without fear of being a fool. No alcohol necessary.