The sooner you accept your situation and allow yourself to heal, the better off you’ll be.
A cold silence filled in the room.
I sat there, fiddling with the torn fabric on the pocket of my shirt. There was a speck of blood on it. In the mirror, I could see my eye was swollen and bruised. The scratches on my neck were mostly healed. But everything still hurt. From the top of my head to my pinky toe, there was faint throbbing. I had a foggy memory of the previous night yet the evidence showed struggle.
Struggle is an understatement. That night — and the nights that had lead up to it — was a catastrophe.
“What are you doing today?”
I shrugged my shoulders aimlessly.
“Well, you need to figure out something. Did you see the applications I left in the dining room?”
I shook my head.
“Fill them out. And when you’re done with that, you need to go by your cousin’s. She said she could use some help moving some furniture.”
I heard her but I wasn’t listening. The disdain, the frustration, and the general annoyance in our conversation hung thick in the air. I fumbled around in the refrigerator until she left. Before someone else could interrupt my morning routine, I poured a healthy helping of Jack Daniels into my coke. Trudging upstairs, I carried the weight of failure on my shoulders.
I couldn’t do anything right. I wasn’t good enough. My dreams were stupid. Day after after, these were the lies I filled my own head with. I blamed myself because hating someone else is too easy. I blamed myself because those who loved me would counter the self-deprecation with words of encouragement. When you’re going through something that’s meant to crush you, it’s important to have people around that can pull your out of your darkness.
“What’ll you have?”, the sultry brunette asked.
Four fingers to represent the four shots of Patron I ordered. She handed them over with no regard to my condition at that point. Recalling that night, I wonder how I even carried the shots back to the table without falling on my face. The table, which housed some of the guys, was empty. We’d often go our separate ways once in a venue. They usually found something young and pretty to focus their energy on. Me? The bottle was the only thing that had touched my lips for months. I threw back all four shots.
The next sequence of events are hazy. I remember someone jumping on me. I remember sirens. I remember having my face slammed on the ground. That’s it. The next time I’d be sober was in this cold, dimly lit hospital room; with a torn shirt pocket and my wrist handcuffed to the gurney.
After awhile, a close friend shuffled into the room with a stranger behind her. This guy couldn’t have been much older than me. He reminded me of a high school biology teacher. He introduced himself as a substance abuse counselor and social worker within the hospital. He reported that I’d blown a .31 as my BAC. It was recommended that I be admitted to the hospital’s behavioral health unit right away. As much as I wanted to say no, — as much as I would’ve preferred to run far away — I couldn’t. I didn’t need the repercussions explained to me. With no job, I was in no position to argue either.
I spent ten days doing everything I could to convince anyone who would listen that I was fine. When my friend came by to remind me of what I’d done that night, I begged for forgiveness. I promised that the lock-down was helping and my mind was clear. I was getting back to the old me. On the tenth day, my brother came by in the morning with a fresh set of clothes and helped me shave. The swelling in my eye had disappeared. I was all better.
But only on the outside.
The hardest thing to forgive myself for are the lies. Everything wasn’t going to be okay. If I knew then how much hurt I’d be in later, I would have taken the happy ending of a 90 day rehab program. What I needed was to hide and heal. In life, we don’t get many chances to have a clean slate. If one is within reach for you and there are no conditions attached to it, take it and run.
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Photo: Victor Casale