Coming home from work tonight an old karaoke song came on the radio. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor. I’d learned it, and performed it, with the sole purpose of winning back my ex-girlfriend. It worked, beautifully and miserably. Beautifully because – yay success! And miserably because – wow, we really should never have gotten back together.
Anyway, as songs are pretty famous for doing, I found myself on a not-quite-consensual trip down memory lane. As is the norm, I soon found myself face to face with an unpleasant memory of an embarrassing and shameful failure of my past. My mind dredges these moments up again and again, playing them scene for scene. I’ve learned a dozen or more ways to distract myself when it happens, but there are times I just watch the scenes play out. I think I convince myself that if I can just watch and accept and release the event, then it will stop showing back up and I can move on. Maybe it’s working because there are less dramas to relive these days and more and more of them that I can just shrug at and acknowledge as past.
This particular flashback centered around the last job I got fired from before I ended up in rehab. Well, next to the last; the *very last* job I was able to get hired for I was actually fired from within less than an hour of when I started training so I don’t really count it.
The last actual job I got fired from was as a cocktail waitress from an awesome bar and pub in North Dallas called The Londoner. My entire career there is just a blur of insanity after insanity but this one particular day stands out. My bartender friend and I had to work very early in the morning (by our standards, at least, around 7:30 am) to cover a soccer match. These were rowdy, loud events with lots of greasy breakfast foods, lots of beer and the raising of shots. Seriously. At 7:30 am.
We were hung over, my friend and I. And by “hung over” I mean we hadn’t slept yet because we’d been up all night on a coke binge and drinking everything and anything. This was a rarity for her, for me, it was my life. The only way to possibly even begin to deal was to do a couple of shots. “Don’t let me get too drunk,” I told her. As if I would possibly stop.
I don’t remember the actual shift. I can’t imagine that there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that I was a total and complete wreck. Shooting whiskey at the bar, doing lines in the bathroom. At 7:30 in the morning. What I do remember was that my friend and I decided to leave the minute the game was over and another bartender on the clock. With hours left in our shifts, on a beautiful Saturday, we got in her car and left; we went back to my house and passed out on couches. We woke up to a dozen phone messages and texts. In a panic we rushed back to the restaurant, which had gotten very, very busy. It was too late. We got sent home and fired the next day. I literally tried to bribe people with cocaine to keep it from happening.
Anyway, so that was the lovely movie playing in my head as I drove home tonight. And I thought to myself, “I wonder what those people must have thought of me. What they must have said about me. I wonder if they ever remember me and where they must assume I am now.”
If I were any other character in this head movie, trying to guess where the girl that was me would be six years later, I would definitely guess dead, imprisoned, homeless, or just general trash.
If the me of today met the me of six years ago, my first thought would be that this was a girl who was going nowhere, and who would probably end up there.
I would have given up on me.
And yet, here I am. Quietly at home, a home that I own with my husband, listening to a baby monitor for sounds of my young, amazing, daughter stirring upstairs. Here I sit, basking in the silence, sober and healing; living happily in wholesome, comfortable, stable, monotony.
It’s a thing to reflect upon.
There are people in my life that I’ve judged in their addiction; people I have written off because of their current circumstance. I’m not pretending to know if that’s okay. Certainly there are reasons to separate oneself from someone or something that is toxic and unyielding, even if only temporarily.
I could lay guilt on myself and tell myself that I, of all people, should know better than to assume, should do better than to withdraw. I could, but I wouldn’t really believe it. What I, of all people, really know is that a person with an addiction that is still unyielding and blind to anything but itself, isn’t really paying much attention to what I am or am not doing.
So, I don’t know what the moral implications are of judging people while they are lost to their addiction. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing. But I do know it’s not a true thing. Whatever I think of them now, whatever I think of what they may become, has no bearing on the reality of where their destiny lies. Anything really is possible.
Six years ago I was doing coke in the bathroom with strangers at 7:30 in the morning. That’s a mind blowing leap from where I am today.
Think what you will of the addicts in your life, protect yourself in a way that keeps you strong but loving. And remember, unless you’re the addict, none of it is really up to you anyway.