Well, you know how it begins.
Once upon a time, there was a girl.
She was pretty ordinary. Kind of nutty. Had her moments of brilliance. Had her moments of shame. She was nothing too extraordinary, in any way.
Pretty much your run of the mill girl. As far as girls go.
She was a teacher, a runner, a friend to a few very great people, and an owner of a truly remarkable dog named Norman.
It is good to interject here that she loves and adores this dog and she believes, firmly, that he will be at the gate of heaven when she kicks it. He’ll be waiting there for her, thwacking his tail back and forth, so that his whole hind quarters waggle, just so you know.
There were some days when her nights seemed extra long. When all the feelings she had piled up on her insides and she had no idea in holy heck how to untangle any of them. There was a skip in her brain that kept hiccuping over itself, like a bruised record needle. And so, she drank a glass or two of wine, and that smoothed out almost all the issues.
Until, of course, it didn’t. She kept up appearances, though, because run of the millers know how to do that. She kept her hair smooth, job intact, all records were clean. All doctor appointments were kept. Church on Sunday. Coffee with friends. That sort of thing. Despair, though, wrapped around her shoulders during all the in between times. It clung on in the mornings, after lunch. Sometimes before lunch. It was all around. The despair was still there even though these really big and wonderful things had happened to her. Her sweet love had married her. Her darling boys were born. Her life was a portrait. It made her more sad, even, to realize how tangled up she was, despite the beauty all around her.
The part that really befuddled her is that she thought she was so much smarter than all of this addiction stuff. But yet, she had decided to step squarely on that land mine anyhow. And then when she tried, again and again, to stop stepping on the landmine, she found that she couldn’t. It was maddening. She was a “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” kind of girl. She should be able to do this.
This went on for a million years.
She felt foolish. And sad. She worried a lot (more than even her normal quotient, which was all the time) that her church, her friends, would see her treading water amidst the wreckage, paddle up in a life raft and shout out: “You there! You! The drowning one! We need to ask first: Are you a fool? Because if you are, we can’t help you.”
Here’s what happened instead: Her husband, and her friends, and her church paddled up and said: “Are you a fool? Well. Aren’t we all. Get in.”
So, she quit drinking. Actually, she didn’t quit. She gave up, and she allowed her sweet God who loved her very very much to take charge.
And she went to meetings. And she prayed and prayed. And sometimes she sat in her laundry room, weeping, saying, “God grant me the serenity, please. PLEASE, God.”
And she kept going, through big fat failures, and pain, and joyful days that gave her hope that maybe all this sobriety stuff was possible, really possible, and even maybe just worth it, after all.
During it all she wrote like crazy, because, she liked to do so. She had to. It unlocked her heart a bit, to write. It unraveled things, smoothed them out, like linens in a drawer, all crisp and white, ready for use when the guests come.
And then, she decided to enter a contest with her words. And she got an award. And then, an article was accepted. And another one. Another award was given. And there was something in all of this that straight up fed her soul. The clicking of the keys in the late night hours, it was her best lullaby. She would wake up, when it was still dark outside and the birds were just starting to sleepily chirp awake, and she would be casting out words and drawing them back again, working, working on her nets of sentences and ideas.
She still does this. 5:15 a.m, the words wake her up.
And I guess, she just wanted to say thank you.
I guess I just wanted to say, thank you.
Thank you for reading.
Words cannot express how grateful I am.
But I won’t ever stop trying to write them.
No one will ever replace Norman. But this creature? He is a doggie (Norman variety) with cat fur on. He gives me joy.