by Jenna Proffit
She could see the glinting metal of his fillings in his back teeth as his smile widened.
The clink of the bottle and the cool glass with the super thick bottom, so heavy in her hands.
As he poured the dark liquid she could smell its strange sweetness and it burnt her nose.
Excitedly, he would put his finger to his mouth..shhhhh, she would smile.
She loved being this close to his world, she was special like that. It may have been just proximity, but she always felt it was something deeper.
He never used that word adoption, he never referenced it in front of others. She was simply his, his bug.
Now, as an adult she understood completely the feeling of excitement, the readiness for the burn that used to hit her nose as it now entered her system, burned her stomach and dulled her senses.
She never expected to find herself here.
As she grew she had learned to resent that damn bottle and what it was doing to her best friend. He left before he left and the woman standing there now barely remembered him. His scent had long left her senses, and she wasn’t even sure she would recognize him should he appear on the street.
Pouring one more and chasing it down she felt her spirit slide down into its protection, and now she felt more ready.
The chaos raged around her despite her best efforts. Sleepless nights, constant visits and reminders that these weren’t even her own. These beings who demanded too much, who cried just to cry because it seemed to drown out other stimuli. Every Single Thing was a struggle. While eating they would stuff themselves to choking , while bathing the water pressure was scary and the water always seemed too hot or too cold. Every diaper meant another 20 minute screaming fit, and a dirty diaper left unattended meant the same. Like everything in this new life there was no balance.
Still functioning she showed up daily and saved her secret for the evenings and weekends. She could normalize it this way, no one was being affected she would tell herself.
At night she would take notes on her phone to be sure she could remember events of the evening and important quotes from the kids.
In the morning when she woke full of bile and self hate. First there was the puking and gagging as she tried to settle her body back into reality and sobriety. Tears rushing down her face, tears full of regret and disgust to find herself here again.
No time to dwell or thing too much as she forced herself to face the morning full of drama, appointments, screaming, and chaos….caring for anyone but herself.
No one knew just how much she hated herself for this. How much she longed to rise above it. How many times she convinced herself that this was the last time.
Her kids thought she was fun, but they also knew she was only part way there. This fun momma who would let them stay up a little late, and suddenly let the rules be a little more lax. This momma who also couldn’t remember things. This momma who talked different, this momma who was less stable. The kids got good at helping her remember. She hated that the most. Their unknowing adjustments to assist her and meet her needs.
Tragically for many this self loathing leads them further and further into the spiritual sickness of addiction. For her though, maybe because from the great divide her grandfather reached out and blessed her. Or maybe because of her courage and stamina. Or possibly because her children demanded it if she wanted the relationship she had always desired. This self loathing pushed her to find a way out.
No path is easy, the road she had created was ugly and bumpy and grown over. This was going to require her to do things she had never done before to force her way back through it. It took some time to beat down the overgrowth of pain, regret, self-loathing, self-denial and stagnation.
She accessed many tools. She asked for help more often. She said No. She rediscovered her gifts and her smile. With each breaking through she walked further and further away from the darkness that had once seemed so dark that she would never find the light.
Recovery. Now that’s a great word because you do recover yourself, and discover yourself during the process. Once you discover who you really are and what your purpose really is often many things need to shift. Those shifts aren’t always easy and they can affect others and change is not comfy.
True freedom is only found by living from your authentic self and that may mean people aren’t comfortable with who you become.
Recovery is choosing daily to care for yourself, and at first that may mean eating a ton of ice cream every night.
Recovery is thinking ahead when visiting and being honest when its hard.
Recovery is being okay with things being totally fucked up sometimes and trusting they will shift.
Recovery is letting go of control, knowing you will make mistakes.
Recovery is remembering every word your kid says.
Recovery is being able to go whenever wherever without the drink contributing a thought.
Recovery is a chance to live authentically.
Recovery is remembering what can happen if I stagnate.
Recovery means you get to live again.
Recovery means being able to look yourself in the eye.
Recovery means peace in your mind and in your heart.
Jenna Proffit is a mother and healer in Bloomington, IN.