And then, I flew overseas.
I got engaged and decided to get married. I threw caution and myself to the wind and ended up in another country.
When you’re getting clean, they tell you not to make any major life decisions for the first year. Your brain’s re-wiring and it will take a long time for you to feel stable again. Once you’re stable, you need to learn who you are after those changes.
This is good advice, and something I should’ve listened to, but for different reasons.
I should’ve listened because for the past decade I have been drunk or on medication. Strong medication, too. SNRI at their highest dose, sometimes double medicating to attempt to keep myself sane. These things clearly had an affect on my brain, and considering I started on this form of pill when I was eighteen, I should have realised that my brain was changing.
I was clean when I left the country, I had been for four months. When we’d met, I’d realised that I didn’t need to drink around him. I’d spent most of my life lying, and telling half-truths in an attempt to resolve my own insecurities and here was someone who felt like a kindred spirit. Someone I felt safe enough around to not have to do that.
If living is just a trash heap of experiences that we stand upon, then for the first time I wasn’t embarrassed of mine. I wasn’t trying to cover it in gold and make it shine. I wanted to show him the worst examples and laugh with him about them.
We did this very early on, telling stories of how drinking had made us do terrible things; like sleeping with everyone in our friend group and then moving on to another group, or being the demimondaine on the side of a marriage. We both had stories that made us embarrassed, but we told each other anyway. He said I was cute after we’d finished telling these stories.
For most people these stories would have made them realise that maybe the other person wasn’t exactly the type of person one should be with for the long term, but there’s something about finding your equal that makes you realise you were just looking for those traits in someone else. What’s the point in being able to get away with these things if there’s no one to appreciate it? We could fully enjoy each others wins and losses, no matter how much they subverted the norm.
When I stopped drinking and taking my pills, he stopped drinking. He didn’t drink as much as I did anyway, and he wasn’t on pills, but I appreciated the gesture. There was something about this show of solidarity that made me feel like it was an ‘us’ journey, instead of a ‘me’ journey.
He returned to his home town after I’d known him four months. Long enough to decide that there was far more to our original fling than either of us wanted to admit. We’d decided we would stay in touch while he was gone but it took less than a week before he called me his ‘girlfriend’ without thinking and instead of running away in fear like I normally did, I smiled and called him my boyfriend.
You wouldn’t imagine we were in our mid twenties.
We were acting like teenagers.
Which, in a way, I was. It took ninety-days. Ninety-days before I woke up one morning and suddenly I wasn’t having multiple mood swings a day anymore.
I let myself settle down, like a snow-globe that was constantly being shaken with every pill and every drink, I let myself become calm.
So it wasn’t about missing him or needing him, it wasn’t about a flood of emotions whenever I saw his face or a feeling of being in love. It was the fact that I spoke to him every day and knew that’s what I wanted to do. The fact that he was the one I wanted to talk to in the morning, even if I didn’t feel an intense desire to be around him. There was no emotion dragging me around at three-hundred miles an hour saying ‘this is what you need to deal with right now, these emotions are the only thing that exist,’ instead I felt a calm, a constant thread.
I felt his existence as a part of myself that wasn’t constantly at the surface. The trash heap now contained him, in a way that made it seem more like a home I enjoyed and wanted to be a part of.
When he invited me there, I booked a flight. I planned to be there for two weeks and speak to a lawyer about immigrating.
I started selling the excess things in my apartment that I didn’t need anymore. The spare Apple TV, the six sets of guitar strings, the three action cams I had somehow accrued through kayaking trips. I don’t really know why I started selling it when it would take so long for me to get there. I think I was just planning.
Planning for something that I’d never tried to plan for before; the future.
I watched the news for aircraft crashes from the airline I was flying with. It wasn’t that I was afraid to fly, I loved flying. It was the thought of dying without spending more time with him or getting more things done with my life. It made me feel sick, it made me worry. It made me want to brush my teeth and go to the gym and do everything in my power to suck every single second I could out of this body that I had barely taken care of up until now.
Sobriety made me realise how lifeless I had become. Because there’s no need to be afraid of dying when you aren’t really living.
Now I am living, I am packing, and taking time off work.
I am waiting in my apartment for an uber.
I am standing in line to get my ticket.
I am walking through the metal detector at customers.
I am sitting as we taxi down the runway.
Breathing slowly as I stare at the headrest.
“Don’t crash. Don’t crash. Don’t crash.”