There was a bonfire. Hookah. Green Apple Burnett’s.
I wish I remembered more from the day that ended up altering the course of my life, but I don’t. It will forever remain a bonfire, hookah and Green Apple Burnett’s.
People have filled in the blanks here and there.
We left the house and went to the bar. Someone bought me shots. And shots. And more shots.
Bar close rolled around and we left. I stubbornly decided to walk home alone instead of sticking with my friends, against their wishes.
A pizza delivery man saw me stumbling near the St. Joseph Meat Market, clearly intoxicated and alone. He called the police out of concern.
They came and picked me up, and I blew a .35. They then tried to take me to detox, but I was not being cooperative (imagine that). They instead took me to the hospital, where I slept it off.
But those are their memories, not mine. I’ll never have mine, which is unsettling.
The next memory I do have literally feels as if it is out of a movie scene. I remember opening my eyes and being extremely disoriented. My eyes focused and I saw my mom first, in a striped sweater, arms crossed, no makeup, the expression on her face an expression I’ve only seen a number of times, and only in serious situations.
Then I saw my dad next to her. I don’t remember vivid details about him like I do about my mom, but he was right there with her. My siblings were nowhere in sight, a rarity.
I should have been concerned, or sorry. I should have been remorseful, or confused. But all I could think was, “Oh shit. Now I have to deal with this.” That should have been my first clue that my priorities were out of control.
It’s probably important to note that at this point, I was still fairly drunk. A .16 when I was discharged, I believe. That being said, I was not pleasant to my parents or to the doctor.
Especially to the doctor. This woman was trying to say I had a problem, and hell no I did not have a problem. I was in college, I drank like everyone else, and this one night got out of hand. Who was she to tell me otherwise?
That whole day is still a bit of a haze to me. I remember leaving the hospital and my parents driving me back to campus to grab a few of my things. The car ride felt like an eternity. What do you say to your parents when they briefly thought you were dead? Nothing worthy comes to mind, especially when you’re still intoxicated. So it remained silent.
I remember walking into my dorm and falling into my best friend’s arms, bawling, my mom telling her not to baby me. I remember trying to find out what I had done with my phone and other belongings from the night before. I remember packing the essentials and leaving campus.
After an excruciatingly silent 45-minute ride home, I remember crashing on the couch and sleeping for hours. I remember waking up, sitting on the porch with my mom, in the sun, and downing about five popsicles because I was so dehydrated. I remember thinking that this would all go away and it would be okay.
And it would be okay, but not in the way I thought.
It would be okay after completing an out-patient program, attending AA meetings, coming clean about my problem, finding a sponsor. And even then, sometimes it wouldn’t be okay – the difference being that I would learn to deal with it in a healthy manner.
This is kind of like Chapter One of all my memories from the past year. Some are still blurred or suppressed, and some are more clear. Knowing me, I will write about them eventually.
I’ve always been rather outspoken about my struggle as a whole, but not in detail like this. That’s probably because I never wanted to take the time to sit down and rehash painful memories for no reason.
But tonight, exactly a year after the night that put me in the hospital, I was driving home from my internship, reflecting, and started crying uncontrollably. Then I found myself pulling into the meat market parking lot, turning my car off, and trying to envision what had happened that night a year ago. Obviously I couldn’t come up with anything other than what people have filled in, but somehow it felt like coming full circle.
Instead of being mad or confused, I just let myself cry for a while. Then I texted my sponsor and a close friend also in the program – people I didn’t know at all a year ago but who are now a light in my life. That realization in itself made me stop for a moment and just appreciate what sobriety has given me.
It’s given me the ability to be comfortable expressing emotion. It’s allowed me to let people into my life who I otherwise never would have met, let alone opened up to. It’s allowed me to sit alone in a dark parking lot and pray, of all things.
As I sit here a year later, there are still so many thoughts and emotions I have yet to pin down.
But there is one I can certainly identify – pride. I am so proud of myself, which is a claim I could never really make in the past. I’m proud of myself for making it to the one year mark, one day at a time. I’m proud of myself for opening up to the people in my life and letting them follow this journey. I’m proud of myself for being able to say this has made me a better person, and for meaning it.
This year has been the most difficult of my life, but I honestly wouldn’t change one thing because I have learned so much about myself, about other people, about love and support, about the world as a whole.
One day at a time really does take you places.