Game Night, For Drunks

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The Blame Game has bullshit rules.

Like a game of Twister, it all starts out simply enough: Spin. — Right hand. — Red.

But, in the end, it’s a mess of arms and legs. Heads shoved into armpits and crotches. A ballet, with its dancers stumbling, grabbing, and stomping — on toes, fingers, and hair in a hopeless, and ultimately futile, effort to stay upright. Exhausted, the company finishes their routine — all sweaty, sore, and likely, with cricks in their necks.

In the Blame Game, the winner is always left standing. But, — no one has really won.

Because, the Blame Game isn’t really a game at all. Blame is just the mud we sling at each other when we don’t have any answers.

Blame is the magic paint we use to gloss over the harsh reality that — some things are simply intolerable, beyond reason or explanation. And, rather than face our honest truth, we prefer to duke it out in the muck, for as long as humanly possible. — Making our last ditch efforts to avoid facing and feeling the pain and discomfort we’ve created for ourselves.

Blame — is easy. It requires nothing more than a pointed finger. That’s why people who avoid the truth love it so. — And, before I got clean and sober, I was one of those people.

When my ex left me, a year before I ditched the drugs and booze, I blamed the ever-loving shit out of that motherfucker. The morning he left, I fell to my knees on the blue carpet in our living room and wailed like a small child, our cat staring at me like some kind of strange extraterrestrial. My ex left me there, without finishing his coffee. And, I remember watching the steam come up off his brown, IKEA coffee mug, evaporating into the air — along with the rest of my life.

Back then, his leaving me was a huge surprise. After six and a half years together, I never fathomed that our small, unattended issues would have exploded in that way, leaving me vaporized on living room floor, like the shadow of the woman on the steps of the Sumitomo Bank in Hiroshima. — What happened here? I remember wondering.

But, in that moment, I didn’t hesitate with my answer. I was quick to blame. Because, I didn’t have to wonder, I knew — IT WAS ALL HIS FAULT.

In the weeks following that harrowing morning, before my ex was totally moved out of our apartment, I had screamed, sobbed, begged, and pleaded with him. I had sent him countless emails, first sentimental, and then, seething with hatred, anger, and hurt. I had performed my role as the crazy ex-girlfriend with expert precision. And, still, I contended — IT WAS HIM. How had this happened to me? Why had he done this to me? What could I possibly have done to deserve this happening, to me?

Well, for starters — I was a mean, black out, drunk.

I rarely remembered what I had done or said on the nights I’d had too much to drink — which was every night. And, over time, that kind of alcoholism can build on itself until you’ve alienated pretty much everyone around you, even the people who love and care for you.

I was too drunk to be honest with anyone, especially myself. — And, I had been so far gone that I hadn’t seen where my drunkenness had ruined me and everything around me. My blame was born of my ignorance and hurt. I was broken, and seemingly, without reason. And, we humans, we need our reasons. — So, where there is none, we create reason.

Later, it would be my sobriety that gave me reason. I discovered the Honesty I had been avoiding with every shot of whiskey I downed, was available to me without any kind of booze at all. — I just had to face it. — It was truly a revelation. And, when you look that kind of truth in the face, the Blame Game evaporates into the air — almost as quickly as I did that September morning, so long ago.

But, Honesty won’t answer every question. And, sometimes, it brings with it new, equally difficult questions. I still ask myself why my ex didn’t help me seek assistance for my drinking problem. Wasn’t I worth more than abandonment? Then, I ask myself, why I drank the way I did back then in the first place?Β  What was so wrong? What had I said to my ex in those moments I cannot recall? What cruelty had rolled off my tongue that was so horrid, it deserved the punishment I received? — I will never know. — And, even today, the new woman I’ve become, still wonders.

But, part of facing the truth is coming to terms with the fact that some questions are not meant to be answered. Everything is a lesson. And, sometimes, lessons are painful.

Getting honest requires that we forgive. — Ourselves and the people around us. — Even when we don’t have the whole story.

Honesty requires that we let go. And still, I recognize that there are things that I didn’t deserve. There are things that I have a right to be angry about. — We cannot let everyone off the hook because, once upon a time, we were drunks. But, what’s past is past. And, posing unanswerable questions to people who are long gone, is no better than mumbling nonsense to yourself like a mad woman.

Start over. Reset the board. Play the game you’re in today.

Spin. — Right Hand. — Red.

Make your move with all the grace as you can muster. — Dance the dance. — Know, that someone will knock you down. And, when you fall, you should try to land as softly as your body will allow.

And then — get back up — and beat the ever-loving shit out of that motherfucker.

 

 

Feeling In A New Era

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I wait for the blow. — But I’m older now. — It takes its time.

I keep thinking about my old roommate. We’d blast Tori Amos and fucking emote. We’d lay all our shit out there. 20-Somethings with nothing to prove. Back in NYC, we’d suck down fat joints and take swigs out of cheap bottles of red wine in our Alphabet City apartment. We fucking felt it. I’d play my guitar and she’d play her keyboard and we sang in a language we both understood. We’d look at each other and we just knew: It was all out there. — We made something.

My emotion hasn’t made anything in years. I’ve poured all my pain into cleaning kitchens — scrubbing out sinks. In my apartment of 3 1/2Β  years, I have nothing on the walls, save for the dried roses that hang from a smoke alarm, given to me by an ex on Valentine’s Day, years ago. — And, yes, I know. — Bad Feng Shui.

While I’m sure no one wants to hear it from a spry, 31-year-old — I feel fucking old. And, even though I’ve been diffusing citrus oils in my apartment to keep myself from having a psychotic break, I still expect the living room to stink like moth balls and old soup. If I didn’t work until 6PM, I’m certain I’d be eating dinner at 4:45PM every night.

Monday, I sat on my stoop crying. I dyed my hair red and, in the sun, it looks like my head is on fire. It feels that way too. I planted some seeds. I don’t care if they live through the summer or not. I just need something to set down roots. I need something that’s alive to break the surface. I’m tired of waiting for things to grow. And now, I have all this dirt on my hands.

I got an unexpected call from someone struggling with their sobriety. For a minute, I felt like a fraud. Hours before, I was thinking about picking up a bottle of bourbon, and, suddenly, I found myself describing all the things I do to keep myself sober — to someone else — like it’s nothing. Like it’s easy. I’m convincing. I told him — it’s worth it. That, I’m better for it. And, for a minute, I am. Better.

When I hang up the phone, the evening sun’s crept in through the window like my stalker. I’m still sitting in the same place. I haven’t run from the hurt yet. But, my mascara has, and I look like the poster for American Horror Story: Asylum. Sure enough, it’s 4:45PM, but, I won’t be hungry for dinner tonight. — The break-up diet is the world’s best kept secret. — You heard it here first.

I decide to snuggle up to the cat and play Tori Amos through the speaker. I channel a younger version of myself. I mourn her and all the feelings that, once, came to her so easily. I emote — sans my friend and the fat joint and the wine. I try to feel. And, this time, I don’t do it over a sink. But, I end up just talking myself in circles, trying to convince myself of something that isn’t true. I have never been a good liar.

So, to keep myself straight, I re-read my checklist:

  1. Drop off the key to his place.
  2. Drive directly home.
  3. Get on your knees.
  4. Pray for Jackie’s Strength.