Getting Through Another Anniversary Date

I have to write about this before I minimize and rationalize it away. I slipped over the weekend. Friday night, I had 3 shots of Tequila — several hours apart from each other, not enough to get drunk — but nonetheless, a slip. I know what the triggers were.

April is full of trigger dates — rape #1 – April 11/12; my dad’s death – April 14; the child’s birthday, who I gave up for adoption – April 27. Also, I could include the suicide attempt on April 12, 1998, as it was the most serious attempt I ever made, and the period of homelessness from April 17, 2005 through May 1, 2005 after the move to Tullahoma, TN. There’s just a lot to process in the month of April, a whole lot.

In addition to the trigger dates, a good friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl last week. She and her husband are mine and KR’s closest friends. That’s saying a lot considering I don’t easily trust enough to make lasting relationships/friendships. I spent most of Friday shopping for a gift for the new baby. I struggle a lot with my inability to parent my own children. That reason, alone, is a source of great pain and loss — as well as guilt and shame.

Most days, I avoid the children’s sections of department stores like the plague; yet on Friday, I was determined to do something special for my friend to commemorate the new addition to their family. All I can say about this experience of gift shopping is that it left me with a crippling indecisiveness that bordered on insanity, walking the aisles of the department store for more than a few hours. Seriously — hours. However, I am glad I got through it. Gift giving truly is as much for the giver as it is for the receiver.

When KR returned home from work with his usual Friday night bottle of Tequila, I didn’t think twice about it. I took a shot to settle my nerves and calm my incredibly noisy mind. I didn’t even get a buzz because I spaced the 3 shots out over several hours. Quite honestly, I hate the taste of Tequila, probably the one saving grace that stopped me from drinking more than I did. I’ve been fighting the urge to go out and buy a bottle of Jack Daniels ever since.

I’ve resisted.

Sobriety is a bear of an opponent, especially when you have voices in your head telling you things like, “A few drinks won’t hurt anything.”

Or, “You’re not really an addict. Look at how long you can go without using anything. If you were truly an addict, you wouldn’t be able to resist having a drink every time it’s in the house.”

Or, “Complete abstinence from alcohol is as unrealistic a goal as any other form of abstinence. How is complete abstinence any different from other forms of ‘black and white’ or ‘all or nothing’ thinking? It’s a contradiction in psychology to say one form of exaggeration is okay while another is a cognitive distortion. How can that possibly work?”

So, I made it 100 days this time before I gave in to those voices. It doesn’t surprise me that I would, especially not at this time of year. I refuse to feel guilty about a slip. At first, I was a little disappointed in myself; but I know that I am doing the best I can, given my circumstances and life history. I struggle enough with self-blame not to tack on anymore over something I consider trivial compared to past experiences.

I didn’t cry when I held my friend’s baby for the first time over the weekend. I was worried I might, but I didn’t. All of the emotion was there, just below the surface while I gazed at that beautiful little face. I held onto my tears until I reached the safety of my home, crying myself to sleep that night.

That loss hurts every bit as much today as it did 17 years ago.


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