There are No Perks of Being a 32 year old Wallflower

Just saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower last night for the first time, which was written in 1999 and made into a movie in 2012. In 1999, I was a 16 year old-and dealing with a similar catalogue of inner fears as Charlie, the main character, and 16 years later (half my life later), I still harbor them.

Mainly, “would they want to be my friend if they knew I’d been to the “hospital”?”.

The older I get, the more I realize what an isolating, unique experience it has been to be someone who has been mentally ill enough to be hospitalized as a teenager. My blackouts were not psychological, like Charlie’s, but physical, alcohol-induced ones. The more “normal” I get, the more isolated, and isolating my memories feel of being that other person. The older  get, the less wallflowers I know.

I’m a very lonely wallflower around Christmas and the roots and petals of other people’s success (mainly procreatory, occasionally career-wise) contrast the small pot of my life. The roots of a wallflower a map of shame, an unlovable design. I just feel so, so unaccomplished.

Maybe this is why I need AA, not that I have gone since I was 15 and court-ordered to go a few times (a field trip from a mental hospital). Maybe I need a place where just being sober is something to be proud of. Normal people aren’t proud of that, and its tactless to ask an alcoholic like me how their “Sobriety is going”. And yet, this is the thing that takes all my energy, and isolates me completely, and makes me want to leap out of your house the minute I see your holiday spread of alcohol. A very good case for me to try AA.IMG_7691

I am like a houseplant who can only grow under very special lights and conditions. I can’t be moved. And though I will making to the spring, I falter in the darkness of December.

 

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Process

I woke up on my 5th day sober and in the hell I was going through, decided I would quit for good. The day after my last drink (a swell BBQ Blackout), I had simply told my boyfriend I wanted to quit temporarily. But the truth was, that was me being scared of losing my crutch permanently, and my escape permanently. I thought alcohol was my fire escape, but it was really the match every time.

By the 5th day, I had come to terms with myself, although I am constantly coming to terming. But this time, I realized I wasn’t qualified to drink, I wasn’t “normal”, and I could never go back. I was a clown, a circus freak in the liquor store. And I had to retire that red nose, or red wine bottle.

Diligently downing benzodiazapines, afraid as hell I would have the DT’s, I was already a hypochondriac and the initial drying out period was difficult for me. I was filled with raw eye-opening embarrassment, over my black-out at a big party (apparently I was nice, they said. But do they always say that?).  I was filled with raw embarrassment over my identity as a mother. Full of regret. I will say I was always a functional alcoholic, and mother, and lover, and worker, but this is all because the threat of shame makes me tell you this. In reality, I was mortified. And there was no alcohol to persuade my mood to lighter sights.

Unsurprisingly underemployed, one of my very first decisions in my neonatal sobriety was to find a good therapist. Little did I know how good she would be.  I located her quickly and she actually spoke to me by phone for a good 45 minutes before I met her in person. She left me with the firm belief that as long as I was committed to sobriety, she could and would help me. I’m certain there are not many therapists out there who would talk to a prospective patient for as long as she did that day, while I was still very sick.  In hindsight, it was unusual.

We met in her office in a neighboring town, which was a perfect talking space. Not too big or too small, and with windows full of plants thriving behind partially opened blinds. Books in a bookcase were like the teeth of the greats of society, each one in alignment. Each there to offer supreme perfect guidance if one should need it-and of course, my therapist never did. She sat in a modest arm chair, and I as her patient, sat a good distance away, beyond an oriental rug that conveyed warmth, nestled in a chair with a throw pillow that each week, begged to be hugged. Tissues were always within arms reach and were often reached.

I met her once a week for exactly a year. She met me when I was just becoming clean and really held my hand through the process. I will always remember her contemplative nature. I will always appreciate her allowing me to phone-in an appointment during a blizzard (this during the year where my state had the most snowfall in it’s entire history, meant that we had several phone-in sessions. This was a rare luxury not found typically in modern practice).

My only lament is that she only said she was retiring about a month before she did. I had no time to process the termination of our relationship, and and only now, 6 months later, realizing how much she meant to me.  She was my raft, and I realize I am at a new shore, and I am alone.

I found a new therapist shortly after she retired, but she (how do I put this without sounding completely crazy?) “backstabbed me” by becoming pregnant and entering maternity leave just as soon as we’d met enough times for me to unpack my longings-for a “real life”, for a husband, for a baby, etc.

I’ve taken time off since then, since these are forms of heartbreak and are draining, so draining. Tomorrow, I will meet someone new. And I have already been assured, she will not be retiring anytime soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-covering. Covering something again? Covering life events past in a more useful paint?