What made me decide to write this kind of blog is my limbo moments. That’s the best way I can describe them, those moments where I am just kind of staring into space between daily activities, waiting and ruminating on what I do next. In those moments, it feels like I begin life over again, like I hit a reset button of some kind, similar to waking up and getting ready to start the day, only the waking up happens from moment to moment when I’m not focused on a particular activity. And it is during these moments when I wonder about my life and what I’m really doing here and who I really am and how I fit in.
I’ve felt this way for as long as I can remember and I can now trace it back to its beginnings in childhood when I realized that my parents were self-destructive and we kids were collateral damage and as kids we were powerless to do anything about it. So I began drinking alcohol as soon as I could and hugged the addiction to my chest because it got me through the everydays as I searched hopelessly for some kind of “normal.” And now that I am sober seven years, I am faced with the reality of not knowing what I should be doing next, not quite understanding who I really am or what I should be doing in this place called LIFE.
Even with my own daughters I occasionally feel confusion as I try to find my way. Sobriety. Sobriety is the culprit of these newer limbo moments, ubiquitous moments when I’m not sure of the what, where or who. Yes, even with my girls. The way I hesitate to call them more frequently, telling myself, I’m just trying to respect their space and I don’t want to bother them. The way I call them less and less until they call me and ask directly, why don’t I call or simply tell me to go ahead and call more, I’m not bothering them. They are surprised to see this part of me because who is this woman, right? Who is this woman who put the fear of God in us with her fury and her domineering reign over our lives? Who is this woman who seemed to fear no one, never buckling or even giving an inch under the threat of intimidation by any person, institution or idea?
But I am only me. Just a girl who had to fight for survival in a childhood home that was a battleground. Eventually the battlegrounds shifted, landscapes changed, and became larger and I found myself lost in a world of peering, loquacious strangers. My body grew bigger, now I had hips, more freckles, longer hair, …. now I was a wife, a mother and a woman. And my girls are hungry for me in a new way. They laugh lightly on the phone, “Mommy, you can call me anytime,” they each insist. And here’s my secret: I don’t believe those words. Ugh. So sad, but so true. It’s not my daughters who I don’t believe, it’s the ghosts of aborted parental love, ghosts of abandonment through trauma; it shouldn’t still matter, but these ghosts spark the voices of my wandering mind. They whisper, Why should anyone one ever stay? How could they truly love someone like you? Let go. It’s just a matter of time, they’ll leave you too. Let go. Stop trying to hold on. I know the past is dead and I can walk away from its imagined grip. I know this. But let me tell you, it is a moment to moment, one foot slogging in front of the other, kind of renewed endeavor with every different exchange I have with a human being. Some days, some moments are better than others. The mischievous voices of my mind are less unwieldy nowadays, but reigning them in will always require effort.
I am still the girl who eventually came out swinging with her words, telling those parents, I am done with all that, no one touches me again and no one tells me what I will or won’t do. Flailing and falling, stumbling into the world and then ….. now what? Survive. But what happens after that? See? These are the thoughts which dog my every day, trailing each pursuit like toilet paper stuck to a shoe, meanwhile all of life’s people frequently press in, and all I can think to do most times is smile so hard my face hurts because I don’t understand what most of them want from me.
I am fine. There are no more therapeutic conversations needed, enough years have been spent in that regard. I thoroughly understand all the happenings, all the harms done and all the wisdom gleened. It’s just …. this world, and my head is so maddeningly clear — damn you sobriety! — and I’m having to view all this reality through the harsh light of sober living. And for the last seven years, as I have remained sober, the little girl inside me has been making her way to the front of all my activities. And shit. Well, she’s lost, you know? And even though I’m giving her space to be now, she and I, we’re never quite sure what we should be doing next.