Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Man, did yesterday suck. I was sick, plain and simple. The flu. I lost the whole day. In so many ways. Everything I wanted to do was abandoned while I dealt with a fever, body aches, sore throat, way too much post-nasal drip, and a headache that pushed my eyeballs through their sockets.

I didn't sleep much last night, but I do feel much better this morning. The flus I get usually only last 24-hours, so hopefully it's gone now. I've been awake for an hour, and I'm on my second cup of coffee, and so far so good. If I still feel this great in another hour and a half, I'll go to the gym for a cardio workout.

I had a headache most of yesterday, so by the time House came on, I didn't want to watch any more TV. To keep my mind off how miserable I felt, I read this new book I bought last week, Smashed by Koren Zailckas. It's an autobiographical account of a young woman's alcohol abuse, beginning in junior high, and ending in her early twenties, after she's moved to New York, gotten a job, and began what should have been an adult life.

The minute I picked up this book I knew I had to read it. Her story is so similar to mine. We both started drinking at the same age, 14. There are some similarities between our parents' parenting styles. She was also a satellite to her best friend, a dynamic, outgoing girl named Natalie, a boundary-pusher and rule-breaker much like many of my old friends were. She and I were both shy girls from small towns who didn't think much of ourselves, who wanted to be drunk because it felt so good.

She was worse than me, in the sense that I never had to have my stomach pumped, and my parents never lectured me about drinking until after I'd gone to college. But we have so many shared experiences... the blackouts where you remember nothing, and after wrestling through your fear, releasing the experience into the unknown with a shrug for the public but a scar on your soul. Waking up naked next to someone you don't like, filled with shame and remorse, being treated like trash afterward. Hearing your dorm-mates talk about you, saying things that aren't true, trashing your reputation for their own purposes. Hanging out with other girls whose drinking is as bad as yours, often worse. Dating complete losers. Moving through life in a drunken haze, because the world is easier to handle when you can't see the sharp edges.

I did wind up in the hospital a number of times, after passing out somewhere, and my friends panicked. But I never had my stomach pumped, just saline dripped into my arm while I slept it off. So maybe I had more hospital visits than she did. But she consumed, overall, vastly higher quantities of alcohol than I ever did. I had a lower tolerance than she did, I suppose. Or maybe, a stronger will to live.

My worst alcoholic episodes were during two times in my life: college, and the period of time after my first marriage broke up. I had my worst blackout in 2003, and I woke up in a hospital, not knowing where I was, or whose voice I was hearing. Since my friends had all gone home before I me, I had been alone in a bar when I passed out, and the emergency personnel had called the only person in my cell phone whose last name matched mine: my ex-husband. Words cannot express the depths of my humiliation. Dimarc had been summoned to the hospital at 2am, waited until I woke up, then took me home and put me to bed at about 6am. Of all people, the person I thought I had relieved of any duties toward me. I remember my head swimming with disorientation. I murmured bizarre things, crying, apologizing, thanking him, apologizing again.

That's a big statement: the person I thought I had relieved of any duties toward me. I have talked a lot recently about how easy it was to simply live with my depression, because I didn't have a life partner, or a long-term roommate, or family nearby - I was able to hide it, and I believed I was keeping my loved ones' lives free of my sickness. I was a burden.

Sometimes, I still feel that way.

The hospital hadn't found anything in my system but alcohol, and my levels weren't even that high. It was odd that my body had reacted in such an extreme fashion, a complete blackout with no memory of anything at all. I consulted with a local clinic where I had a semblance of a medical history, since I'd gone there numerous times whenever I was uninsured. The physician there discussed the "date rape" drug with me, and how it causes blackouts, and leaves nothing in the bloodstream after a certain period of time. My stomach hit the floor. I realized how lucky I was, that I was never alone, that when I blacked out I was in a crowded place where I was a semi-regular. That I had left the previous bar, where strange but handsome young men had handed me drinks, despite their protestations. I remember placing my hands on my body, as though making sure everything was where it was supposed to be. I knew I had not been violated, but the realization of what could have happened crumpled my knees, and I sat on the floor and wondered why I wasn't crying.

I will never know exactly what happened that night, but I discussed it at length with a bunch of people. I told everyone in my women's spirituality group about it, and we all held hands and prayed and gave thanks for my safety. I told my shrink about it, and she reacted as she did to everything else, listened with a calm face and said, "So how does this make you feel?"

"Lucky," I said.

Two years later, it was 2005. I had just moved in with G, and I was utterly miserable. I was in New York withdrawal. I blogged extensively about that period; I had lost my job, my apartment, and everything that had been my New York life. It was over. As much as I loved G, and was excited to begin a new life with him, I was in deep mourning for my old life, one I had been forced to leave behind by situations beyond my control.

One evening I went out in our town, hoping to make friends, and had a terrible social experience, very similar to the sort I used to have in Springfield. I drank myself into a stupor. I don't know how I made it home, but when I reached the apartment, G had to drag me up the stairs. I threw up in the apartment, in the hall between the living room and bedroom. He cleaned the floor, but left me lying in the hallway. I vaguely remember pulling off my clothes and crawling into the living room and onto the couch in the pre-dawn light. I heard G on the phone with my temp agency, explaining that I was ill and wouldn't make it to work that day. He was quietly furious with me. He left for work without a word to me.

He locked me in the apartment, and I heard his footsteps down the stairs fade into nothingness. The silence was deafening. I assessed the situation. I had really fucked up bad. If he came home and threw me out, I'd deserve it. I crawled into the bedroom and passed out again.

It was around two in the afternoon when the hangover began to fade. I took a shower and scrubbed myself clean from my hair to my toenails. I rinsed out my clothes and hung them to dry. I changed the sheets on the bed. I got out the swiffer and lemon pledge, and cleaned all the floors in the apartment, and opened the windows. By the time G came home from work, the place smelled clean and fresh, and there was little evidence of the previous night.

It was the last time I ever drank alone. It was the first serious discussion G and I had about depression, and drinking, and how I really felt about a lot of things. It was one of the best talks G and I ever had. It was the day I realized that G was my salvation, in a way I never would have imagined a man could be.

It was a turning point, which led me to this day. It was the day I decided I didn't want to be sick anymore, and I was going to do something about it, find a way that worked for me.

I remember the feeling of hope that next day, when G forgave me, when we went to bed with my head on his shoulder, his arm curled protectively around me, and he kissed me on top of my head, through my hair. Not long after, I decided to go to massage school. We got married. I went to a psychiatrist.

I'm treating my depression for the same reasons I stopped drinking: I want more out of life. I want EVERYTHING out of life. One of those things is G. Another is children. Another is to sing again, somehow, somewhere. And I don't want to just do these things, I want to be great at them. I don't want to be an average wife, or girlfriend, or lover, or friend. Or Mom. Or singer. I want to be special, uniquely me, the best I can be, so that people understand why I exist, why G-d made me, what I have to offer this world. And so that I will understand it too.

It's been 14 days since I started taking the Prozac. Two weeks. Its supposed to take around three weeks to start seeing effects. Yesterday was a pretty horrible day, but how much of that was the flu? I did call my mother and complain about my body sabotaging my plans for the day, and how incredibly angry I was. I had to break my commitment to five days of gym workouts on the first day. I knew there was no way I'd stick to my dietary plans that day. My whole fitness regime was shot for the day. I was furious. But... I didn't cry. I didn't self-flagellate too much. I did some. But maybe...

I don't know.

Today I'm going to try and get back on the horse. Go to the gym. Eat my healthy meal plan. Do the grocery shopping. Make the soup. All the things I wanted to do yesterday but couldn't.

I am still mulling over last Friday's post. My inability to trust is a serious issue that I will have to address, and soon. I might find myself back in therapy with that.

But not today. One day at a time. Today, I am flu-free, and I'm not just going to make soup. I'm going to make fucking awesomely delicious healthy vegetable soup.

1 comment:

Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

I'm proud of you for getting back on the horse. Yesterday is over. Today is a new day. I'm so glad you're feeling better.