The Only Way Out Is In.

Tons-o-tears this week. In my very early sobriety I cried quite a bit, but for different reasons. I felt humbled and scared and loved but I cried because I couldn’t believe all of the work I had ahead of me. I knew it meant consistent pain, loss, and ‘moving on’ from so many things I wasn’t ready to let go of. These are exhausting thoughts, especially when they’re relentless. I’ve cried at least once every day this week, for much of the same reasons, but less because of disbelief/shock. I haven’t broken down at work or in public (not intentionally or anything, it’s just how it’s been), but they have been still kind of unexpected and authentic, these mighty tears. They feel good. I remember people talking about the release of crying being cathartic as something I never really understood. It always gave me a headache, I always felt foggier after. I get it now. Now that I’m crying for the right reasons. Better reasons. Honest reasons.

It’s funny how it works, isn’t it? I cry because my heart is broken that my person left without a goodbye, seemingly without looking back. I cry because my best friend/Roomie forgave me for all the shameless shit I did while I was drinking and because I didn’t have to ask her to, she just did. I cry because my friends remember my tiny silent victories and shower me with praise and love when I least expect them to. I cry because I miss NB and have so much I wish I could talk about with him and there’s just no way it will happen. I cry because he hasn’t come back, and he probably never will. (I cry because I still had to put ‘probably’ in that last sentence). I cry because I’m starting to like myself and it’s terrifying and new and raw and it comes up at the moments when I was used to feeling the most ugly and disgusting and unlovable. I cry because I gave up the crutch that forever sheltered me while simultaneously scaring the shit out of me, and because I don’t really miss it all that much. I cry because not missing it is reassuring. I cry because of the many nights I can’t remember and equally too because of the nights I can. I cry because it’s uncomfortable to let things, feelings and people in, but I know it’s critical that I do it anyway.

I cried the other night because I felt homesick for the first time, ever. I’m not joking. I’ve never felt that way before and I kept tearing up because I didn’t know how to describe it. Until I explained it to Roomie, sitting outside in the alley, I didn’t understand what homesickness was. I realized that it has nothing to do with the where or when, it’s the feeling we miss. That blanketing love. That illusion of safety that our families somehow give us, even when there’s no way it could be true or lasting. That unwavering faith that I could never be abandoned or feel alone as long as I stayed in that same place. I felt the pull to return to the house that I don’t particularly miss and never really loved. The physical urge to lie on the beige leather couch while my dad sat in his burgundy leather chair. Both of which were in the den that always smelled like cigarettes and sometimes Bell’s scotch, but had the perfect combination of home-y comfort and tasteful interior design. My mom was noticeably absent on these evenings, which meant freedom. It meant putting my feet up. Not having to sit as far away from the other side of the couch as possible to avoid contact with her. My dad and I would shoot the shit about our days and watch mindless TV, we did this often. I would light up like I had some delicious secret when we both laughed at unremarkable sitcom jokes because it confirmed that somehow we were on the same wavelength and that meant we could never be disconnected, not in a million years. It also meant that we couldn’t possibly disagree about the big things, which ultimately led me to believe my father hated my mother just as much as I did (I was wrong about this, it turns out).  I think on summer evenings where I’d be reading and he’d be playing golf on his PlayStation, and he’d pause the game so I could read him a line or two from whatever book I was living in that day. Perpetually saying, “hold on, peanut… okay, go ahead”. I would excitedly dictate what I had just found and wait for his eyes to widen. This rarely happened. More often than not his responses were dismissive of the epiphanies that the words held for me. I resented him for this. I would sulk and sigh and clam up, a bit disheartened, and continue to read to myself. When I would get the guts to revisit said revelatory line(s) hours/days/years later, I often realized I had interpreted them wrong, which to this day can make me wince at my silent anger towards him.

All of the early moments were so reassuring and wonderful until I got older and the distance widened between us. It widened until it became almost 4500 kilometres. I think more on our relationship in my sobriety. The realization that he loved my mother even though she was/is a fuck of an alcoholic who terrorized my sister and I, and that my loathing of her didn’t change that, took me many years to accept. I don’t know if I’m even there yet. I’m just shy of 4 months sober and these jagged little pills are still making their way down my gullet (shout out to Alanis Morissette, the first voice of my teenage angst).

These small moments aren’t daydreams, they are memories, some more coloured than others. These tiny rituals became safety blankets for my young self, so I suppose it doesn’t take a famous German psychoanalyst to presume I would wax nostalgic about them given my current turmoil. What it comes down to is that I miss that connection, plain and simple. I miss having unshakeable trust in someone to stick around, love me, push me and hold me when the time called for it. I miss feeling special and irreplaceable. Everyday I grow with the knowledge that this feeling is trying to teach me something that can only be learned from my decision to take this path.

A little while ago I had a longer-than-usual conversation with a brunch regular at the restaurant. He’s cute and I’ve certainly noticed him, but I’m not (and wasn’t when I met him) in the place where I’m looking or interested. Anyway, he seems like a nice guy. He’s around my age, looks like he’s in shape, always half asleep and smiley and most of what he says is quite endearing. He isn’t trying too hard, or at all. He tells me his name, what he does for a living, we both quietly confess our leaning toward introversion and then he asks me what I like to do for fun, and I can’t believe I don’t have anything remotely interesting or witty to say to him! 6 months ago my answer would have been straightforward, I drink. I like wine, Jameson and beer and I like to slam it, sip it and savour it. Now that is no longer in my vocabulary and luckily I mentioned this at some point previous to this conversation, I stammer something along the lines of ‘uhhh… I don’t really know how to answer that… I like to read. And I sit at the park a lot. Oh! I just bought a telescope.’ and he laughs because I’m a bumbling idiot. Sober Lana gots no game. He proceeds to ask me out, at least that’s what it felt like. Says he’d like to go on a hike/take me fishing. I kind of imply that I’m going through some shit but vaguely commit. ‘That sounds great, one day.’ I love to fish. I love the outdoors. I didn’t really mention this but he seems to recognize that in me anyway. He doesn’t push for my number or hand me his, leaving the ball entirely in my court. He continues to come in sporadically after this. Cut to a few weeks later (today), he drops in for breakfast, ever so sluggishly, smiling sweetly and I find myself jittery. I haven’t even approached my second cup of coffee at this point and the idea that HE was having this effect on me made me laugh out loud. I idle near his table taking a payment at another and ask him if he wants more water, as I do so, I confidently put my hand on his shoulder. Strange of me to do, but it happens. And lemme just say FUCK, guys, those shoulders though. I realize that when he said in passing that he’s an active person it was a sneaky way of saying, ‘I’m fucking jacked. I live for the gym. I will forever be in better shape than you but am too humble to say this aloud’. Meeee-ow.

I immediately find my friend/co-worker in the bussing station and tell her I will 150% let this guy bench press me with his dick (???). Exact words. This makes no sense, but I bet you know what I’m getting at regardless. I go to print his bill as I see him grabbing his backpack, he says that he’s left something on the table for me but I can’t look until he leaves, something for ‘all those lonely nights at the park’. I assume that it’s his number (and hopefully some cash, or else he’s leaving without paying me). I was right about the cash. But what he left for me was two books. Both of which are about astronomy, sky-watching. They are old and used and absolutely perfect. Swoon. I scan the first few pages of each for numerical scrawl and there’s zilch. Smooth move, dude. Ball is still in my court. I know I’m not ready for anything serious, but also can’t stop thinking of different ways to get this guy my number. So, maybe I shouldn’t write off the idea of dating. If it gets that far, I plan on being honest about what’s going on in my heart and head just for the sake of transparency. I don’t know whether it’ll matter or not, but I’m not starting a friendship/relationship/anything with anybody under false pretences. I have no idea what the fuck I want or what the fuck I’m even ready for, and I probably won’t for a while. Now, to actually somehow get him my number or get his (something I’ve never done in the history of my life, not ever). EEK.

I went from tearing up finishing Sarah Hepola’s book Blackout, to thinking about how I missed my dad, to smiling stupidly realizing that I not only potentially want to flirt/hang out/fuck some dude that isn’t NB, that I actually went through all of these motions/feelings/strange desires sober. Is this what growing up looks like?

I forgot to mention: I’m meeting a new therapist tomorrow! Her name is Jeannine and I don’t know what spawned me to continue on my hunt for yet another ear, but I’m willing to bet $185 dollars an hour can buy some damn fine wisdom, advice, or at the very least an unbiased viewpoint. We shall see either way! OH AND I quit smoking last week. After I hit my 100 days of sobriety I decided it was time to ditch the sticks, too.

So much change! It feels right even though it’s all really fucking hard and confusing. I’m just forever repeating to myself that this is all worth it and big beautiful things will come out of this stinking shit sandwich, even if it isn’t the case. Wanna know my biggest secret as of late? More and more I truly believe it is.

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