Anniversary Dance

Posted on 21. Oct, 2011 by admin in milestones | 3 Comments

Tomorrow is a big day.  A HUGE day for me.  I’m absolutely excited and, unusually close to getting choked up every so often.  It’s strange, really because it’s about something I’m probably not going to do.

The more important day is actually today.  Today exactly 10 years ago.  The last time I drank so much that I blacked out, wandered out into the darkness of the night at my cottage, might have gotten hurt, might have gotten mistaken for a bear and shot.  None of that happened, of course, and for some reason I didn’t wander into my car and drive off.  Though actually, blacking out I can’t say for sure.

All I know is that the next morning I found a tv remote smashed in a corner of the room and a paper ball in the middle of the living room.  When I picked up the ball and unfolded it, I found a letter that was dear to me, a thank-you note for a speach I’d given that week.  That’s the exact moment – when I recognized the letter – that I knew that I’d missed lots the night before and that this was it.  The last 12 hours weren’t a blur.  They weren’t even there.  Like a tape you slide into the vcr and the middle bit is erased.  It came back to me slowly.  Not all of it, but the bit walking in the moonlight(though I was told later that I left twice that night) and the bit sitting on a neighbour’s back porch.  The people weren’t there, I knew that much, but I did hear a door open on the next lot, a door close, then the unmistakable presence of somebody peering in the dark trying to see, listen and be still.  I knew they had guns over there.

That’s pretty much it.  I had some good friends that had an idea that I might enjoy drinking more than average and knew that I was an unstoppable drinker.  A close friend even told me, “You’re the saddest drunk I’ve ever known,” when I told them that I was worried that if I quit I might not be as fun to be around.  My friend added, “You weren’t much fun to begin with, so don’t worry..!”

I tried thousands of times to quit or slow down – I even quit for a year once.  But it took me no time to get back to my old levels and more.  That morning, though, crumpled page in hand, I knew it was over.  I told my partner what must have been the ultimate statement of the obvious: I have a problem.  Duh.

That morning, I called Amethyst in Ottawa, a centre for my kind of people, a centre only for women, a centre where you could get help without missing work and doing the whole, “Marjo is in rehab” thing.  A centre for which I’d had the number for years, literally.  I’d tried the whole AA thing before, but it was not very palatable to me.  It didn’t seem like it would be strong enough to stop me and, on top of that, when I went to meetings, you kind of got scoped out by the guys there, the old timers.  Not that it wouldn’t work for anybody else – just wasn’t my size.

Within the week I became a client there, with a counselor named Isabelle.  She was older than me, loved books, had lived a little and had been through the program years before.  It was a perfect match.

But that’s not the point of this.  The point is that during those first few years I had an awful time staying stopped.  Imagine a sprain or a fracture so painful that, even though you’re not crying, your eyes are crying on their own.  I had that.  It was the pain of suddenly having no relief EVER from my own head.  There were the nights of shaking, nightmares, of waking up completely drenched in sweat and freezing at the same time.  The weirdest thing was those tears that would leak out.

My personal pain was sufficient and none of what I lost when I quit drinking was as hurtful.  Not the colleague who told me, “you’re not one of THOSE are you??” or the superior who, at a party, forced me to smell this new vodka he was drinking, “isn’t this amazing?  Comon, take a sip!”  Oh he knew what he was doing.  The friends who would say, “You??  A drinking problem??  Why I drink way more than you!”  The pain you feel when you finally quit is so intimate, so personal, that nothing on the outside rivals it.  It was always there, inside me.

That’s what happens though: you quit drinking and you start feeling things, and anybody would need a drink to deal with all of it.

Today, though, I’m celebrating.  There’s plenty to talk about: the before I quit and the after I quit.  The books I read, the friends I lost, the friends I made.  The friends I dumped too.  The grieving I did.

In fact that blackout night was so unequivocally bad that it became important in my recovery: sure, have a drink, but play the tape until the end and you’ve got an angry drunk wandering in the woods at 2 in the morning.

Ten years ago today, I said goodbye to the best and most faithfully consistent friend I’d ever had.  The companion of my joys and disappointments, my anger, my loneliness, of my boredom too.  Booze was the one constant of my adult life.  It calmed me, comforted me, rewarded me, helped me through hard moments, boosted me during awkward moments.  On october 21 2001, we had one last long dance. 


3 Responses to “Anniversary Dance”

  1. Well, I’m in tears now – tears of happiness at your strength, your victory .. so courageous of you to share your journey – thank you!

    • Michèle says:

      Bravo Marjolaine
      Diane et moi avons lu ton récit (blog)avec beaucoup d’émotions et d’admiration( sur mon IPad)!

      Nous espérons toujours vous accueillir un de ces jours sur l’île.

  2. Dominique says:

    BRAVA ma grande soeur!! Je t’aime fort…


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