The more time goes by, the more I see into my idiosyncrasies and understand why it was so hard for me to care for myself, for so long.
The other day something in me was screaming that it wanted to be all alone in a cabin in a distant forest, drinking myself into oblivion. The urge, in the form of this thought, was so strong. I held it. I went over to it to try to see and hear and feel more closely what was up. Why the tantrum? What did it consider so insanely important to get?
Here is what I slowly saw.
It’s the walls. The utter freedom. A state/place where nobody’s hounding me who I don’t have the resources to resist. And since for the longest tie I couldn’t imagine having the resources to resist, I craved the get-out-of-jail-free card. Get me out of this impossible-seeming bind, where I’m invaded by other people’s eyes who require that I conform to their expectations. (Editor’s note: these aren’t high expectations. If anything, they’re weirdly, appallingly low. Only people requiring that I serve them or their egos or their insecure worldviews.) The get-out-of-jail-free card was supposed to free me with the efficient disengaging effect of alcohol.
So I say, okay, describe the cabin you want. Stop your screaming and describe.
It’s small, in the woods, not an excessive amount of window surface but some. Good task lighting inside. (You heard right – first block out the sun and then generate light in the dim room that results. In a world of sun-worshippers, I’ve finally come to accept the bliss I feel in filtered light.)
What else? They’re all here with me in the cabin. Who? The voices, the personajes, the characters. All of them, the obnoxious ridiculous ones all the way to the nice, wise, calm, generous ones. Those who insist that to be safe I must protect myself from myself, and those who look at me and love me for the weird wobbly concoction that I am, now and into whatever day in the future. All of them.
And once they’re all there, partying, talking, having a lovely social time on the porch in the Vermont summer sun, I go off into the back room and work. I play with my tools and wood and shells and paints.
And that’s where I landed. The back room of a Vermont cabin where my tools are. What of that scene can I bring into real life? I’m not moving to Vermont, and the available forest land for cabin building is more limited where I am. But there are possibilities.
I was the most surprised by how the personajes assumed that others would be coming. They left empty place settings at the table, had extra glasses by the punch, would have looked up unsurprised if someone new, a face or a voice they’d never met before, walked up. That’s my opening. It’s virtually guaranteed there are more characters in me — they’re the inquisitive, joyous ones who were bumping around in me on those nights I thought I had to drink or else I’d implode. They’re the ones that think inconvenient thoughts or spend long hours alone with saws and planes and chisels and cutters and wood and glass in a world where moms and grandmas thought women weren’t supposed to disappear behind a closed door for such long periods of time and who expected any tools to look more like ladles or knitting needles.
These other characters have a place at the table, set, moreover, by the very characters who I thought were controlling and rejecting of me. I slow down, I see a different scene. I stayed slowed down, and breathe, and the scene shifts into one where I am whole. A craving for alcohol happens the moment just before a small, nourishing shift. The wait is so worth it. Every time.