During this week in treatment, we filled out a questionnaire to determine what roles we played in our families growing up and, to whatever extent, we continue to occupy today. The category in which I found myself was that of the lost child. Here are some of the character traits of the lost child: daydreaming, fantasizing, reading, playing video games, retreating to his or her room. Check and mate, people…that was me as a child and still is me at 41-years old.
During art therapy yesterday, Linda reminded us that when we quit drinking and using, we revert to the age we were when started drinking and using or when we emotionally checked out of an unmanageable situation. I took my first drink at seventeen, but I constructed a motherfucking fortress around myself when I was thirteen. I retreated to my room; I devoured fantasy and science-fiction novels; I became obsessed with records and tapes; I wrote two books. When I started working at a grocery store to save money to buy a car, this become my pattern: school during the day, eat dinner with a man whose mood shifted so quickly that me and brother never knew what to expect, and then haul ass to my room where I felt safe surrounded by my books and music. I fired up my trusty old Apple IIe and wrote stories, poems, and books. Then I read until my mom told me to turn off the lights at ten. I waited for my parents to fall asleep, and then I turned the light back on and read until two or three in the morning. I worked at the grocery store on the weekend, spent some time with friends, but I always felt pulled back to the safety of my room.
I’m very early in recovery–going on fourteen days now–and I’m starting to feel again. I mean, really feel, and it’s terrifying. I have no literal or metaphorical room to which I can escape. I escaped into alcohol, and I’m not doing that anymore, so I’m left exposed. I took my youngest son to Kroger to get a few things, and I felt like I could hear every sound. The produce section exploded with color, and I became overwhelmed with how many people streamed past me. I stopped in the middle of the store to clear my head, but I couldn’t. So I slipped into one of my personas (a teacher) and I pretended I was going to interact with students. I can pretend all day long, and for now, I have to keep doing that in public. In private, I fall to fucking pieces, and I never know what that will happen.
I created something during art therapy which horrified me, and I cried through half the process. I drew my addiction as a monster with multiple eyes and a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth and tentacles. I also knew I was being discharged from day therapy and would not longer see Linda or some of my friends, and that made me cry, too.
Since my memory is worthless right now, I don’t know if I related this story or not, so forgive me. Last week, I told Linda she was a Jedi master and I was her Padawan. After I explained what a Padawan was, she said, “Be careful that you don’t put me on a pedestal.” I took her words to heart and considered them over the weekend.
Yesterday, Linda gave me a high-five, and I said, “You’re still a Jedi, and I’m a Padawan, but I’m not your Padawan.” Linda bowed to me and said, “There are a lot of Jedis in this room.”
I looked at my new friends and agreed. As I walked out of the room, I heard Drew say, “Would someone just fucking tell me what a Padawan is?”
I laughed. Then I got in my van and cried. I laughed and cried the rest of the day. I went to AA. I am learning. I am a Padawan in training, but one day I’ll be a Jedi…and one day, my son will say, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”