What it was like

Yesterday I lost my phone at Target. It slipped out of a silly, too-small pocket on my purse and I didn’t notice. Of course I immediately started freaking out, “Oh my gosh, how could I be so dumb? What if no one turns it in? What if I have to buy a new phone? AHHHH!” I was running late to go teach a class so I had to leave without it. Driving fast to get to my class on time I gave myself a choice: continue being in my head and upset, or relax and let go. I chose the latter. Once I got to the studio (early, magnificently), without my phone to distract me, I sat and breathed and meditated for a moment. I calmed myself. I visualized going back to Target after class and retrieving my phone. I counted my blessings that I had the ability to buy a new phone if needed. “What is the lesson in this?” I asked myself. To be more mindful and less attached, I believe. I let myself sink down into calm. This, for me is progress. After my class, I went back to the store and of course my phone was waiting for me there at Customer Service.


It brought back memories I don’t often revisit. In the last year of my drinking, I lost and broke my phone so many times. I remember paying $95 to get the screen repaired two times in two weeks.


My hands were always shaky and I couldn’t hold onto anything.


I had been juggling all these balls for years, putting on the perfect performance of having the perfect life. There was always pain behind the makeup of this performance, but no one knew. That year I started to drop some of the balls. Whenever I dropped one I felt terrible and incompetent and anxious, and that anxiety demanded to be numbed, so I drank more and dropped more balls. I dropped phones, fell over and broke my finger and felt so embarrassed I never got it set properly. Now I have a permanently crooked pinkie. It was a vicious, Groundhog Day cycle of substances masking the anxiety I couldn’t stand to feel or acknowledge the message in.


It wasn’t like I dropped every ball at the same time. I stayed employed. I stayed married. I stayed housed. I always fixed my broken phones. But the cracks in the makeup started to become a little bit visible, if only to myself and the people who were looking closely enough. The death of my addiction was like the death of a thousand cuts. There was the “rock bottom” you always hear about but that crash was merely what it took for me to finally acknowledge that I was already bleeding.


To me now, this is the real evil of alcohol. It allows you to continue living in this half-dead state of perpetual numbness and blasé, half-assing everything in your life and convincing yourself that the problem is also the solution.


So I’m glad I temporarily lost my phone yesterday, because every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded. To remember that horrid feeling of things suddenly slipping out of your grasp. To be reminded that I’m still human, no matter how far I’ve come. Now I sit and breathe instead of reaching for a bottle. My hands only shake when I’ve had too much coffee. And although I hold everything more loosely, on most days I can juggle with peace and ease.

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