“Around here, it’s the hardest time of year. Waking up, the days are even gone. The collar of my coat Lord help me, cannot help the cold. The raindrops sting my eyes I keep them closed.
I’m all right. Don’t I seem to be? Aren’t I swinging on the stars? Don’t I wear them on my sleeve? When you’re looking for a crossroads, It happens every day”
I listened to “Bend Before it Breaks” on repeat last night. I sat in my bed literally staring at the wall with tears just rolling down my face. Not a real cry just my body purging what it needed to. Completely numb to any and all feelings it was referencing. I thought back to February 2012. I thought of Cam coming back from rehab not shortly before with some girl. A girl that would end up being his wife at some point and now has escaped what he never could. Little did I know how entangled both our souls were in his. I can’t help but smile every time she has victories big or small. She has really made something of herself. I know that struggle, how could I not be proud of all she has accomplished? After all who really was the “other woman” I never had any claim to him but my own. Hubby number one was never mine.
I thought of the Februarys before when we were more than lost in our addiction. How even when I was immense pain myself I wished I could take it from him. I thought of all the harmful words he would spew in these the most vulnerable of times. When you can no longer control your mind or body what are you even living for? I reassured myself that this venom was not meant for my ears but fell on them as I was his only constant. Just as he was mine. Those freezing mornings shaking in the car trying to think how would I make money today? This was my existence, our existence, for far too long. So much time wasted. Yet still “wasted” together. As much pain as his presence caused all around me I do not regret those years. I don’t regret finding out in the harshest of ways how to survive. He molded this broken girl into a solider that was not afraid to get as close as possible so I could stab you when you trusted me most. God I have been an animal. I am grateful he showed me how I am so much more than a victim. Whether some in my life choose to believe it or not. I am grateful that in my most selfish of times I still had the capacity to love. It helps me even today.
My thoughts came back to 2012, just months before I was saved. Laying in Tom’s bed sick as shit trying to distract myself by watching any and all Studio Ghibli films I could get my hands on. There must have been something pivotal that happened on the day we watched “Howl’s Moving Castle” because the thought of it makes me cringe. I remember the way this man looked at me with such love as I was in the middle of my own personal Dante’s Inferno. I dragged him in with me, in the time when I cared less for the worth of another human. I loved him deeply (as much as I could then at least), for his selflessness in the wake of the destruction created someone so selfish in nature, for his ability to see I was fighting even as I laid on cold cement floors sobbing, for carrying me when my legs could no longer hold me, but I was that selfish, cold, and harsh individual. I had become that which I had grown to loathe.
My mind drifted to February 2014 how insanely happy I was to still be alive. Holding my belly as my soon to be child wiggled, kicked, and danced in my belly. One of those smiles crossed my face often. The kind where anyone can see the pure joy and love emanating. Setting up both of their rooms. Laundry. Crafting everything I could find on Pinterest. Grocery shopping. Cooking dinner for Dave. All these beautiful mundane experiences I tried desperately to rob from myself. I have this same memory from 2016 of laying in our bed with the window open listening to the tree rustling outside his side of the room. I rolled on my side. Eight months pregnant with Izzy, it was so hard to get comfy then. I grabbed Dave’s pillow and took a deep inhale. After months of doubts, fighting, silence, and late night discussions, I remembered that I loved this man. He was my person. How lucky I felt in that moment. I should have told him. I held my phone and set it right back down. I didn’t want him to know that I was hurting in what should have been happy times. He had enough on his plate. I just didn’t realize then he could see the pain in my face every morning and every night. I hold this specific memory as it was one of the only points of clarity when I felt like I was losing myself all over again, stone cold sober.
Finally I came to last year. Fuck last year. In February I was in rehab AGAIN. That’s where they throw the intensely grieving. When you don’t know how to help just throw them into a padded room, psych ward, maybe lock them up in pure desperation to save them from themselves. What else can you do for the widow? The hurting? I remember sitting in small group discussing things that those around me could not fathom. Looking at my therapist in one on ones and she had nothing, NOTHING TO HELP ME, because in that time I was not an addicted person spiraling out of control in ways they understood. I was grieving the loss of my best friend, the father of my children, my hopes and dreams, my rock. I was a strong woman that turned to something to allow myself to be weak. They don’t know what to do with someone who knows themselves already. They open their books to find a page that does not exist. They looked at me with pity and dread, as I was one of their worst fears realized. I was not a sheep nor a lost child. I was intense and understood completely what was needed and I followed through. This was not my first rodeo. I know how to quit, we all do, I just didn’t want to then. I wanted to break. I needed to. In the end it was the best thing I could have done. To rip down the veil of bullshit I was attempting to build. That would have killed me. I’m glad I was able to get to it first. We always say “No, not me. That won’t happen to me” Truth is it happens to us all at some point. We all die. The manner in which you leave this earth should not matter but how you lived should be what is remembered. I struggled daily with the judgment of who I had become and no longer was. Some internal but not completely, contrary to what others may tell themselves, judgment is a very real thing. I kept secrets that were unnecessary and truly was chugging a poison that nearly killed me. I had flashes of throwing tacos at officers, fighting with all my might, choking those I claimed to love, sobbing on cold cement all over again, the true desperation to be freed of my prison once and for all. The night before I had pulled Dave’s pillow out of the huge zip lock type bag I keep it in. It still smells of him. I took one whiff and was off and running. I did not return to my children until March.
After what felt like a lifetime I looked at my calendar. I made through the beginning I assured myself. I did not feel weak or set up for failure as I had so many days before. I felt exhausted but ready. I felt awake. I felt like a warrior. I knew that 2018 would not hold one of those Februarys I wished I had just seen in a movie instead of it being my life. I looked to Dave’s spot in my bed that held our son now. I watched him breath for a second. “And I rationed my breaths, as I said to myself, that you’ve already taken too much today” I sang in the silence. In 1,2,3. Out 1,2,3. It’s easy as that Jess. Inhale. Exhale. You remember the past in hopes of not repeating your missteps. Not to validate a new left turn.
May my Februarys always cause introspection and growth.
Not destruction and defeat.
“Say it ain’t so, say I’m happy again
Say it’s over, say I’m dreaming, Say I’m better than you left me. Say you’re sorry, I can take it. Say you’ll wait, say you won’t Say you love me, say you don’t I can make my own mistakes. Let it bend before it breaks.”