so i had in my head for the past couple months, in anticipation of yesterday, "lucky #9 years off the sauce". it's a little cheesy i know, but my friend joie had his 9 year sober birthday in august and he sent me a message that said "lucky #9!" and 9 years IS kind of a big fucking deal, even though after the first couple of years people seem bored of hearing about it. except maybe other people in recovery who understand that even while life gets infinitely better, the anniversary of hitting rock bottom and making the decision to basically trade in, or kill off, the old version of yourSELF in exchange for a different model doesn't always get easier. because there is something about that day, that time of year- for me it is christmas and the day after- that will always remind me of the pain and desperation of who i was back then. and it's almost like, around that time, that the old creature, that was me, starts stirring and lurking and trying to sneak back into me. so this time of year i have to batten down the hatches to keep the old shit out. i am talking emotional shit. my sobriety is always safe. it's not about that. it's just this deep darkness that tries to swallow me sometimes. over the years i have gotten really good at letting myself experience sadness without getting sucked back into the place of deep depression but there are some days that it is just a little harder to fight off those monsters. little things that make us just a little less strong.
in 1998 i moved to port townsend, washington. i had a lot of good friends there and we were together in our messed upness. maybe i was the most messed up. i don't know. i don't remember. i remember hurting a lot inside. on december 10th, 1998 my pet turtle died and i put cigarettes out on my hands, feet, neck, and tailbone. to mark each of the places a turtle can retreat into it's shell. it wasn't all about a turtle. there was a slow descent before that and that bump just created the fast downward spiral. i went inside myself hard. and 15 days later, on christmas, i woke up with a nervous twitch in my eye. it was making me crazy. it was like chinese water torture inside my face. like a ticking time bomb counting down to the moment i would explode.
i remember what the table looked like. and there was a dog there.
and i remember thinking i was going to drink my friends' mom's big old boyfriend under the table.
i remember falling and hitting my head on the way to the car. i know we were getting in the car to go back to my house because we were having our own christmas party and EVERYONE was there.
i woke up in the hospital on december 26th 1998 with tubes in my nose and my throat and my urethra. the doctors hadn't expected me to wake up told me i had been comatose.
i didn't remember anything about the party but EVERYONE had been there so i heard.
i guess when we got to the house i had to be taken upstairs to the bedrooms. i guess i started having a grand mal seizure and vomiting blood. i guess i started aspirating, inhaling blood and vomit into my lungs.
tarika and faith took me to the hospital in faith's truck.
i almost died. in front of EVERYONE.
and EVERYONE told me how scared they were. and EVERYONE told me how awful it was. so i realized i had to just stop. stop everything.
so Katrina and quen took care of me when i got out of the hospital and until i could get into an inpatient program. and i went to rehab and after rehab i went to shrinks and psychologists and group therapy and AA. i went to meetings for women with mental illness. i went to meeting for people with addictions. i went to meetings for self mutilators. i went to meetings for people struggling with codependency. there are so many underlying issues when dealing with substance abuse that i knew i had to deal with so much more than just the substance abuse in order to succeed at staying clean and sober. it was hard fucking work for a long time. but writing helped and music helped. it was at the time that the moldy peaches became a real band and started playing live. i remember still feeling numb on psychiatric meds and sitting on the floor in that old house with adam and writing the song "lazy confessions".
we all called 1999 the year of the spoon. because those three 9s look like three little spoons lined up neatly in a drawer.
and we all did some serious spooning. cuddling front to back like our lives depended on it. and maybe our lives did depend on it. we needed our buddies so bad. we needed to hold on tight to each other so hard. we even had spooning parties. we had a spooning party in holly's huge tent one time and there were so many of us. all in a row like spoons in a drawer. we were all friends holding on tight.
but at that same time i remember getting so mad that people were still coming over to my house with 40s and wanting to party sometimes. they didn't realize how hard it was for me to be around that. some of my best friends were becoming people i couldn't be around anymore.
so when the moldy peaches drove cross country to new york city, for one show at the sidewalk cafe, i decided to stay east. i went home and with all of my crap in storage in port townsend i lived in new york for the next 7 years.
i made good friends. friends who played music and didn't drink. friends who ran open mics and played open mics and took me to meetings. and sometimes i would go back to port townsend to visit but it was always pretty hard.
it is hard for me to go back to the place where i was the most self destructive and see the people i love so much self destructing. i have such a love/hate relationship with that place. there is so much good and so much bad. like serious serious extremes.
i played a show there a little over a year ago and a whole bunch of my old friends didn't even come by. i guess they were all uptown at the bar. they didn't even stop in to meet panda. it hurt me really bad. and i swore myself off that place. but last night, while i was dealing with the normal emotional rollercoaster of an anniversary of sobriety i got a message from katrina letting me know that one of the old buddies was dead. one of the best ones. one of the sweetest, gentlest, most childlike and annoying, and wonderful. the one i was next to in the spoon tent. dead. died on christmas morning on the 9th anniversary of the day i almost died.
not so lucky #9 after all. a million friends can die and it never gets easier. the pile of hurt just gets bigger and bigger. our ability to cope might get better but it still hurts so much. some of us get second chances. some of us don't. but none of us are indestructible. and it hurts so much to know that there are still people up there who i love and avoid because it hurts to much to watch them waste away.
and i am living in olympia now. just 96 miles south on the 101. so i guess i will be heading up this weekend. for services. for an old friend who is dead. another old friend dead and gone. and i want to see everyone but i am scared.
i fucking hate alcohol and i fucking hate drugs, but i have been at their mercy and i know you can't make anyone else stop. the best i can do is scream as loud as i can that I LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY FUCKING MUCH AND I AM SO VERY SAD RIGHT NOW AND IT KILLS ME THAT NOT EVERYONE SEES HOW AMAZING LIFE CAN BE AND THE POTENTIAL THEY HAVE. LIFE IS BRUTAL AND THIS WORLD IS HARD AND UNFAIR SOMETIMES BUT PLEASE LOVE YOURSELF AND RESPECT YOUR BODY AND YOUR SELF AND LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE. STOP ALL THIS FUCKING POINTLESS DYING. PLEASE.
it's hard work, but it's sooooo worth it. it gets easier. i swear.
9 fucking years (and one day), but who's counting?