Do you know that I went to preemptively add this post to the "Life" category, and I discovered that I don't have one?
I have written on this site for eight years and I don't have a life category. I have "Just Life" and "Lunacy" and "Daily Grind" and "Delicious Ambiguity" and all of this cutesy bullshit, and I don't have "Life." When people have asked me to justify what I write on the internet many times over the years, I've said that awkward thing that goes like "I write about my...life...I guess?" Or "Just...me...I guess?"
Why is it always "I guess"? Why? I am the shittiest guesser in the world. That "How many M&Ms?" game? Personal hell. I can't do math or relate to most things spatially in the physical world without Susan my GPS lady and a variety of apps, so anything pre-iPhone was a guessing fail, right? "A lot of M&Ms?" "A jar full of M&Ms?" I am the Amelia Bedelia of guessing. Also I am a fairly opinionated, mouthy person. I do not GUESS THINGS. I know THINGS ABOUT ME. So this whole dismissal of everything I did to satisfy a laundry detergent rep or someone in a booth with a...whatever gadget or thing or idea they had at the time? Or a person in the actual world who couldn't comprehend what a person without children or spouse or a point to prove in food or travel or whatever other tangible excuse to occupy internet real estate was doing here? I guessed for them. Stopping that now.
Someone who is important in my daily life now says to me often that I complicate things as a basic practice and I really need to stop if I want to feel better and do better. She also tells me that I need to learn to do normal people things like turn on bad movies and just watch them. I am not allowed to do anything else while I do this, because that misses the point.
These are the difficult tasks associated with rebuilding my entire little yet expansive life. I don't really know how to do fewer than two things at once, but it's not working out to be like that, so I have to try.
I just made a Life category.
And anyhow, I quit drinking. And some voice just popped up inside today (which is likely a higher power whom I choose to visualize and call Ozzy) that told me it was time to write it down here. I don't know if that's true, but it finally felt possible to come here and do that, so that is what I am doing. If this makes it out of draft and to the screen, please know that that felt very unlikely at this second, like the most unlikely thing ever in the history of LaurieWriteslandia. (Like Portlandia, with almost that much coffee, far less bicycling, green vegetation, and, sadly, Fred Armisen.)
I quit drinking because I was dying and I was miserable and I was hurting people for whom I would fight dogs, who in spite of my best efforts refused to stop caring about me and wanting to participate in my life. (The last part felt like the worst part, to which only someone else with an alcoholic brain -- we have holes in our brain, I read, did you know that? Literal holes -- may make sense.) I quit drinking because as dark and lonely and pointless and over as everything seemed in my life, I had glimmers of a sort. One happened when I was lying on a stretcher in an ER with one of my best friends in the world sitting there with me, because she is a saintly human being. I mean, this person belongs on a tapestry. And as deluded and insane and hypertensive and panic-stricken as I was, I laughed when the cute little ER doctor said "You are not trying to pull a Lohan, are you?" And then he handed me a pamphlet.
I can't believe no one had ever handed me a pamphlet before. Things were really taking off!
And all I could think about was how many times I had joked about being "dehydrated and exhausted like Lindsay," which as it turns out is not at all funny until a doctor puts it into context for your drunk ass. Then it's pretty funny -- black humor, but that's my favorite.
(Jen had to remind me what he said, later, but in that moment I knew it exactly, both in terms of what the words strung together meant, and in the overall context of my life. It remains one of the tiny, glimmery touchstones on my road out of hell, one of the times I felt very distinctly that continuing to actively work on dying would be a bad idea, because I really want my full complement of years in which hilarious things happen. And I hope Lindsay's clean today. None of this is funny, man. It's a nightmare, an unfunny nightmare.)
So I don't drink today, and have not for five months of days. I have been miraculously mostly relieved of the compulsion each day for this many days to do something that defined my life and my behaviors and my every single annoying-as-fuck social media newsfeeds for as long as I can remember.
It is the hardest thing I have ever done, learning to live like a normal person. Have you ever hung out with me unmedicated? (I mean when you were, not me.) I am sorry. I apologize. This is no fried chicken church picnic. This is like a dry goth basement club. This is some kind of unwonderful. This is the opposite of every fun cliched thing I can think of right now.
But it is a miracle. It is a goddamned Tiny Tim holiday miracle, is what it is, and I can only hope that it continues to be so tomorrow, because as has been hammered home to me by necessity, only today is promised, and even that is an hour by hour affair.
I should be afraid of talking about this here, maybe, but the thing is that I am more afraid of not talking about this here. I am afraid of dressing it up in some charming, Narnian half-fictional dreamy bullshit prose and not saying it plainly, of which I am entirely capable. Because you know, that shit poured from my fingers when I was drunk, and it was an essential component of the entire imaginary world that worked for a long, long time to assist me in trying to kill myself. I bought into the notion that I had to dress it up, more and more and more as things got so, so terrible. Reading and writing are wonderful tools of fantasy and escape, but when you start trying to tell your own story backwards and better to yourself and other people than it is? That's when things can go really wrong, or likely already have, and you just can't deal with it any other way.
At least that is what is true for me. I am learning not to speak for other people.
The easy, perfect, simple, truth is that words are all I've got, and when they are plain and true, that is when things roll along better in my world. I work in pictures, too, sure, and I like it. I'm medium-sized good at that, which means I have crazy respect for it, because it intimidates me and I know I need to work so much harder at it to get better. But this words thing is what I know. This is what I can absolutely do, what I have absolutely been able to do since I was able to do things. I have confidence in it, and equal confidence in the fact that if I don't use my words to express basic truths of my life, I can't get to the other stuff. I don't know if this is right or how it should be, but I'm not as hung up on that now as how things simply are. Without this part, I'm not as good at telling other stories, or to work in other, potentially more income-producing, activities, and that is really essential to keep things going around here. I know that now.
Tom Cruise spoke John Grisham's smushy line in The Firm about his Jeanne Tripplehorn-played wife, that things "weren't real" until he told them to Abby. Somewhere along the line this part became relevant to me and my blog, as well, and when I sit with myself honestly I have to admit that it's still the case. I just quoted a novel that I read 20 years ago and referenced an actor who has no relevance to my life anymore to make a point, so you can see that things are still a little touch and go around here.
But it's true. It's all true, and maybe if I do this it'll feel more real, maybe even better. Maybe I can really work out the job thing that feels all jammed up in my head, which I 'm told is normal for now. Do you know how often I'm told that things that feel completely awful and unbearable are "normal for now"? A lot of times, from people I really don't even feel like punching in the face, because I know they are interested in me feeling better, and in reveling in the fact that somehow, some way, I've figured out how to save my life, right smack in the middle of it, when that really didn't feel possible at all.
As I said here the last time I dropped by, it really is that dramatic, and that boring.
It feels weirder than I thought it would to say this to the internet out loud, but it's time to get on the other side of it and talk about other things. It should have felt worse and scarier to be who I was for the years before this, not the day we're in now. And what I do know for sure like Oprah knows things for sure is that for all the things I'm afraid of, I am not afraid of you, whomever you are. It turns out that I have lived a life based in terror of absolutely everything for almost 43 years, and if there is one thing that my Ozzy-powered, ramshackle, imperfectly designed but good for me program of recovery (because I have not had a drink today and 99.9 percent don't want one, which is CRAY Y'ALL) tells me it is that I am not afraid of writing on the internet. I can't really afford to be afraid of anything else, either, for that matter anymore, but I can start with the stuff that was never that scary to begin with.
I do not guess this. I know.
(*It's important that I note for the record that my experiences are mine alone, and do not reflect those of any other person or organization. I speak for myself only. Why and how other people get and stay sober can look similar, but is, more importantly, completely different. Of other human beings involved in my story, I will only say that I am grateful for every single bit of help, and how the universe has moved to make good things possible. My only job is to give back. Beyond that, nothing else is my business.)