CRYING IN DRESSING ROOMS, KRUMPING WITH STRANGERS

Hi everyone. How the fuck are you? I’m okay. Yeah, that’s right. Just okay. Okay? It’s totally okay to just be okay, I guess. That’s what “they” tell you. I don’t know who I’m referring to when I say “they” but regardless of who “they” are, they do actually say that. Normal people are probably just OKAY a lot of the time. And even though I’m getting better at doing shit like sitting down and reading a book, after about an hour I am back to the races and wanting something amazing to happen like… having a shot of vodka. Still, I don’t. And I sit fitfully on the middle ground and try to learn what just existing feels like. We alcoholics are used to extremes and anything other than a 1 or a 10 feels unbearably mundane.
 
It seems like I have been twenty something days sober for years and I find myself in this very bizarre and unsettling place of imperceptible progress. I would go so far as to say that I am entirely stagnant at the moment but I know this isn’t the case and even though I’m not seeing or feeling the very obvious signs of a mind in recovery, I know things are changing for the better. Patience just isn’t my thing but I’m learning to be patient and that learning process also takes patience and sometimes it’s all just pure insanity and I need to scream.
 
This muddy and less than perfect state I’m currently in is still MUCH better than where I used to be on a Monday morning: Hungover, head pounding, dizzy, confused, unable to get work done, etc. I realize this. I keep reminding myself of this.
 
This weekend was fucking WEIRD. I spent all day Saturday and half the day Sunday trying to find the motivation to go into the city to buy some clothes. Spring is quickly starting to shift to summer and I’m not prepared for it AT ALL. For those who have never experienced it, a New York City summer basically feels like the underside of Lucifer’s hairy ball sack. It’s very hot, very wet, and smells like funky testicle cheese. You can’t go anywhere at all without developing awful titty pit sweat and your ass crack turns to swampland. It’s really cute and I don’t care how gorgeous you are, you WILL end up looking and smelling like kimchi at some point.
 
Shopping is not an easy thing for me. It never has been. For whatever reason, having to shop during times of necessity has always induced variable levels of anxiety. Casual shopping for no specific reason is a different story. But if I NEED something, forget it. Total panic. During my nearly six years of excess and drunkenness, I have admittedly gained some weight so my clothing options are really very scarce and so my need for clothing is currently pretty severe.
 
I delayed and eventually postponed on Saturday, opting instead to be lazy after hitting the gym and dropping off my laundry to be washed. On Sunday, I sat around drinking coffee and worked myself into a really bad state but eventually forced myself out the door. I listened to a Bubble Hour episode on the way. Then things got crazy.
 
I was walking down 6th Avenue toward the first store I was going to visit. In front of me was a beautiful black woman with a very big afro. She was wearing a cool and flowing summer dress. She was strutting with such confidence and I was mesmerized for a moment. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a bird (I think a sparrow) came swooping down and landed in her hair. Already on edge and feeling very strange, this played out in slow motion as if I were in an altered state. The people around me noticed as well and several of us started screaming at the same time so the words, “There is a bird in your hair!” became impossible to decipher. We just looked like a group of nut cases. The black woman turned around and started screaming along with the us. She didn’t know why she was screaming but she knew she better scream, too. Finally she heard one of the screaming people alert her to the bird on her head and she immediately began swatting herself and the bird flew off and sort of fluttered and hovered between her and the group of us screaming. Everyone started screaming more because now we were having to deal with the flapping wings of this creature in our faces. Everyone was convulsing and swatting and to a passing car, I’m sure we looked like a group of people krumping on the sidewalk. The bird flew away, everyone calmed down, and then we all started laughing. We walked down the sidewalk together giggling and replaying the story verbally between one another and then after a few blocks of bonding with perfect strangers, everyone went their own way. It felt good to laugh.
 
About an hour later, I was sitting half naked in a dressing room crying. Nothing fit. I felt very insecure and disgusted with myself physically. I put my headphones in and listened to music. I sat in that dressing room doing nothing for about twenty minutes. I figured if the store had a problem with it, they’d knock. No one did. I finally emerged, paid for a pair of pants that I wasn’t crazy about but fit okay enough to buy, and went back outside.
 
I ducked down a less busy street. I was deflated and drained. I walked past a nondescript Irish pub. They had the windows open and everyone at the bar was laughing and having a good time. I stopped for a moment and looked in and thought, “I could walk in there, sit down, order a shot of whiskey and a Blue Moon, and no one would know.” I stepped through it and imagined the slow burn of the liquor going down my throat. I recreated the soothing warmth I would feel as the alcohol hit my blood stream. I tasted the crisp and refreshing tingle of the citrusy beer and how nice it would be to chew on the orange garnish hanging over the rim. I would feel content and calm. Happy even. I would read Facebook status updates, comment more freely on people’s posts, glance up at the TV every now and then, listen to conversations of people nearby, possibly strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I would have a NORMAL Sunday and I would be happy. For those few moments, I would feel content. But we all know how this story ends. I would have left the bar, bought more booze to take home, and would have proceeded turning those feelings of contented bliss into chaos and drunken oblivion.
 
I wish I could have those starting points and leave the rest. I wish I could linger in those moments where you are just warm enough to be happy and appreciative but not wasted. And even though I know that’s all over for me, I think I’m still mourning the loss. I haven’t had the funeral. I’m still at the wake.
 
I walked past the pub and started towards home.
 
I really would have liked to have emerged from this experience with more to show for it and the ability to tell you all that my anxiety over clothing shopping was totally unfounded. But my anxiety was entirely justified. Things did suck and they weren’t fun and it was hard and it made me cry and it made me mad and I wanted to crawl into a corner and drink over it. BUT I DIDN’T . I experienced all of those things for what they were. I went THROUGH that. Not around or under or over it. But THROUGH it.
 
This four hour process yielded ONE FUCKING PAIR OF PANTS. And one more day sober. And that’s okay. That’s enough. 
 
PS. I was trying to find a good analogy for the bird in the black lady’s hair but…. that was just a bird in a black lady’s hair.

19 comments

  1. Me again today – Anonymous on Day 1. I am now up to date on your blog. Thanks again for making me laugh today! That bird story is hilarious – I was not expecting that! And your letter to vodka – wow! You are a really talented writer. And I wish I was as strong as you were this past weekend; but I was not and am back to Day 1. You are really motivating me though and I am so grateful for the time I spent reading your blog this morning. Thank you!

  2. You naked it with, “Even though it’s all over due me, I think I’m still morning the loss. I haven’t had the funeral. I’m still at the wake.” I wonder when the wake is over?

    I absolutely agree with you on shopping. I went yesterday as well and ended up in tears. Why can’t someone design clothing for plus sized people that doesn’t resemble a sack?

  3. The bird in the ladies hair is hysterical!
    This is hard, and it does suck, and we all wish we could sit in a bar on a Sunday afternoon and have ONE drink and go on to shop the day away.
    We can’t, and that sucks big smelly balls, NYC summer style smelly balls.
    We go through the stages of grief. Then is comes back, and hits us upside the head. We can’t drink.
    PS. Clothes shopping sucks, fat, skinny or in between. WHY can’t anyone standardize sizes for fucks sake?

  4. So glad to read this. Those feelings are SHITTY, knowing there is an alternative (alcohol) and choosing not to take it is big and strong and brilliant.

    I know exactly what you mean about 1 or 10 and nothing in between. I’m learning to unlearn that way of existing. And it’s sort of working. Of course there are rubbish days, but now the alcohol is well and truly out of my system it’s easier to hang around number 5.

  5. Going THROUGH it. I love that. I have been telling myself to sit with my feelings instead of avoiding them or wishing I was elsewhere. “Sit with it”, I say. This was a great reminder and good to see it in action. Great job. Thanks!

      1. Terribly uncomfortable. The only real comfort for me right now is hearing from other people who are going through the same thing. So thank you!

        Hangovers suck.

  6. Trying to get sober alone in NYC is a bitch. Loneliness in NYC is legendary. Even if you arent digging AA, check out the meetings anyway. The Center on 13th street has all kinds of different meetings around the clock and the guys all hang out after the meetings. Partners, family’s whatever:: Nobody knows loneliness like we do.

    1. Thanks for the info! I’ll check it out! And thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hearing from people on here definitely helps with the loneliness thing.

  7. One step back. Two steps forward? That’s what I’m saying for my own pity party right now. Thanks for starting your blog! I started one 100-something (23) days ago when I decided to fold. I know it helps the writer and readers, but am too afraid I’m going to have a drink tomorrow. For now, I’ll just comment on yours. Thanks for the laughs. Needed it!

  8. I know, what IS it about being able to do unplanned shopping with no trouble, but becoming paralyzed by necessary shopping? It can literally ruin a day for me, and I will put it off as long as possible. Loved the bird story – I could see the whole scene, and imagine the laughter shared with strangers who all saw it with you.

  9. I am so happy to have found your blog! I have been binge reading to catch up in typical addictive fashion. I have 7 days for which I am grateful. At 37 years old I have only experienced one year of sobriety a long time ago. I am thankful for being able to laugh from your spot-on stories and reflect on your poignant and also hopeful posts.

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