I feel different. It’s hard to explain really, but an update was due, and many thoughts have been roaming around in my head. I started a journal, but I only wrote in it while I was on vacation…now the book sits. Untouched since the 17th of September.
Pammy leaves for rehab on October 3rd, and I’m going to miss her. The daughter I’m too young to have is coming into her own. The last couple of weeks, she’s changed. I’ve watched it all unfold before my eyes. A goal is in her mind, it’s locked in, and she’s on target. I have no idea what the next two months will be like for her once I drop her off at the van that will be taking her to the beginning of her new life.
She’s doing this for herself, and I’m proud of her. She came clean and told me she had relapsed back in July while I was on tour in Europe…she said she woke up nearing an overdose in a place she didn’t want to be. Her relapse lasted 3 days. She doesn’t want to live like this anymore, and rehab seemed to her like her best option to get the help she needs to build a solid foundation on a future for herself. I’m glad she was honest with me, and I’m glad she came to these conclusions on her own. It’s so easy for everyone to point the finger at her…but we all have our own battles to fight and an alcoholic yelling at a junky is like a midget making fun of someone else who’s short. It makes no sense to me. When people fall, you should pick them back up as long as they are reaching out for a hand.
My heart hurts for her. As she told me of the things she had done while I was away, my mind drifted to not so many years ago when I looked at a haggard reflection of myself in the mirror, still shaking and with a throbbing headache from the night before. Turn her away? No, I can not, not when she’s still trying, not when she hasn’t fully given up yet. I am nearing a year and 3 months of sobriety from drinking…it seems so far away now. So many lifetimes ago when I couldn’t function without a few drinks in my system, just enough to clear the fog from the night before and begin a new day. The dreaded new day…when would it end? I felt sick all the time, my weight constantly fluctuating depending on if I had chosen liquor or beer that week to chase away the horrors of my past.
Now, who am I? I crawled into bed around 2:30am this morning, Dan was fast asleep. I told him I loved him and his snoring grew louder. I spoke to him while he slept. “When I met you, I was an angry child. I was drunk. My world was shrouded in darkness. Now look at me. I’m happy, I’m sober, and I love myself. The sun shines brightly in my world which was once a sky of green and pink polk-a-dots…now it’s blue, bright blue, and it’s beautiful. Thank you.”
I lay there, thinking of days gone by, years now…he’s been in my life almost 10 years. I do believe it was around this time of year that I first met him…back at Bombers in Seattle. I remember walking in, and him being the first person my eyes locked on. Who was this man flirting with Exotica? I knew everyone in the bar, except for him. He turned around mid laugh, and our eyes locked. I couldn’t look away. Stoned as I was, I couldn’t look away. I was 20. 10 years later, he is the man in my bed, my protector, my lover, my friend. Both of us no longer using alcohol the way we did back then, and now I abstain completely.
I remember getting ready to move to Florida, my head in a mess at 21. Lee had just wrecked my car in celebration of my 21st birthday a few days prior, and I was still trying to pick up the pieces of what my life had become. Dan let me stay on his couch as I prepared for my new life thousands of miles away from everything I ever knew. My face was still swollen from where I made friends with the dash board, ripping my first lip ring from my face. My boxes where stacked against the wall as I was frantically packing and sorting my life. My plane would be leaving in a few days, and all I wanted was for the world to stop.
Dan was at work and I was thumbing through his record collection as a distraction from my present duties. Dark Side Of The Moon. I always loved that album. I lit all the candles he had set up around the living room, turned off the lights, and put the record on. I sat on the floor, surrounded by pieces of my life I couldn’t figure out how to box properly, then I exhaled. As the music took hold, I pushed everything aside and curled up on the floor just listening to Pink Floyd’s masterpiece. No thoughts in my head, and then the tears came. I cried so hard. Alone with myself. I lost track of time and reason, drifting in and out of the notes, then I heard it. The sound of the key in the lock. I had lost so much track of time, forgotten where I was, and my breath left me. At first, I thought…maybe, just maybe I could flip the lights on, blow out the candles, and wipe the tears from my face…maybe I could hide the vulnerable state I was in…maybe I would have enough time before the knob would turn announcing the return of the king. But instead I froze. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. All I could do was stare at the door while Pink Floyd rang through my ears.
The door opened slowly, and Dan peered at me through the candlelight like someone who had just discovered a long dark hallway of mystery, unsure if they should continue or turn back. The breath I’d been holding came out in a stammer of apologetic words as I wiped the tears from my face. I tried to make excuses for the condition I was in when he walked into the room. Apologized for the choice of music, for the candles, for everything. He closed the door. I remember him saying something to the effect that the candles where his, as was the record…so it would be silly for him to chastise me about such things. A wave of comfort washed over me, and he sat down on the far right side of the couch after removing his jacket and helmet. I pushed whatever was left of my pile I had forgotten about aside, and sat on the far left side of the couch, doing my best to become one with it. My head tilted back into the cushion behind me, and I purged my soul with the sounds of the vinyl. Dan didn’t say another word until the album was over, then he asked me if I was hungry.
I’m pretty sure I loved him then, at that moment and many other moments when he saw me at my most vulnerable, but never said a word. He didn’t try to fix me, didn’t tell me I was wrong or crazy, didn’t try to fuck me…all he did was give me food, shelter, and a place to hide when my world had grown too chaotic for my comprehension.
I was still working at the strip clubs then. Drinking my fill, then cruising around on Portland sidewalks to gather reinforcements. I was a complete and total mess. It’s hard to say if I was worse before we got together or later on down the line, but I was drunk a lot. After I had moved back to Washington, after Florida had chewed me up and spit me out, there was Dan, still offering me a spot on the couch, a warm meal, and no judgement.
I thought about this last night. I thought about the family cruise we all went on in 2006, after my uncle had shot himself, and after I had began my first serious stride with sobriety. I was still a mess. This was my second time spending quality time with Dan’s family, and I was stuck on a boat for a week with nothing to do but drink, eat, gamble, watch shitty choreographed shows, and play 9 hole put-put. I was in hell. I ate a lot of really bad food that week, and most of the time I was a nervous wreck. I was embarrassed, because I didn’t want anyone to see me like this, especially Dan’s family, and there was nothing I could do about it. The tickets were bought long before my uncle’s suicide, so I was just stuck. A great impression I must’ve left on everyone that week.
The months that followed were equally as bad. I holed up in my home a lot, spent a lot of time crying and trying to sort out my head. The man who was more like a father to me than anyone was gone and the last time I had seen him alive, he was strung out on meth. Without booze to hide in, I tried to hide in odd sexual encounters with strangers, and still Dan remained. Most of it never grew past anything other than a few emails…I’m sure there’s a lot of people that have some interesting stories surrounding that period in my life. Usually, I’d wind up freaking out on whoever I started talking to on Craigslist about my uncle or the rape I went through in my late teens. I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t get past anything really.
I thought about all of this last night as I curled tighter into Dan, who was gently snoring beside me. I stared at him thinking…this man, this man has endured everything I’ve ever thrown at him, with only a few moments of objections to my behavior…minor suggestions about things he felt were unsafe for me, but still he endured. I didn’t question it. I kissed his back and said, “thank you, I love you more than words can say.” He snored on and I smiled.
Love is a curious thing…the ins and outs of a relationship are complicated. It’s hard to give yourself to anyone. Hard to be gentle with what others give to you. I remember only a few months ago while I was in Europe, I really thought about the difference between living this life with someone waiting for me back home or living this life alone with nothing but the road to keep me company. I talked to Dan about it on one of the few nights we got to speak. Bob had played a show in Germany. It was the day before we left for Wacken. We were staying in a band flat. I had no where to go to avoid anyone in the touring group, Dan couldn’t understand anything I was saying if I spoke low enough to avoid disturbing people as they slept, and I was losing my mind. Finally, I just decided to take my computer into the bathroom and cross my fingers that no one had to piss late into the night. Dan spoke and I typed. It’s hard for us both. Extremely hard for us both to be separated for so long. Most the time I can keep my shit together, but when he loses his shit, I’m fucked.
We both needed to talk to each other, it had been months, and there’s things we both need to work on to stay sane and stay together. Nothing worth having is easy, and we still work very hard at staying together almost 9 years later. The conversation that transpired lasted a couple of hours, and I was happy no one ever came and knocked on the bathroom door, because I’m pretty sure I was in a similar state of emotion like that night of Pink Floyd and candles. On tour, no one needs to see that.
I’m glad we were able to take the vacation to Yellowstone together, even though it almost completely depleted our bank account at the worst possible time of the year. I’ve been home a week and a half or so, and it feels really good to be here. It feels good to be with the man I love completely, and it feels good knowing that no matter what curve balls life may throw, he’s not going anywhere.
Somehow, I’ve managed to grow into a strong woman who’s only slightly independent. When it comes to matters of the heart, I think it’s time I just accept that I need Dan in my life just as much as he needs me.
As for Pammy aka Pama-lama-ding-dong. I love that girl so much. She reminds me so much of myself and she has a huge mountain to climb. I hold my breath and I watch her climb. I watch her struggle, and I cross my fingers that she won’t fall. But if she falls, I’ll be here to catch her. I didn’t mean to find myself a daughter, but I’m glad I did. Since she first moved in the first week of February this year, I have learned a tremendous amount of patience, and am really trying to give her the space she needs to work on herself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I can beat the demons that dragged me down for so many years, I know anyone can. She’s right around the age I was when I first seriously started my uphill climb. There’s a world out there. A big, wide, beautiful world. It’s full of possibilities, wonders, and so many treasures we all have yet to unlock.
The first time I seriously tried to get sober, my friend Phil told me, “Becka, life is so much more beautiful with you all the way in it.” and he was right. It really is. I shared these words of wisdom with Pammy, and she said she looks forward to one day reaching this place in her life, and I really hope she will. I know she can, she just has to want it badly enough to trudge through the shit to get there. We all have this potential inside of us. I believe that with all of my heart.
Go. Do. Dream. Live. Be. Explore. Because life is amazing and you never know what you’re capable of or who you will become until you try. I am not the woman I once was. I’m so very, very grateful for that, nor am I the woman I will one day be…but for now, the skin I wear, it suits me just fine, and I’m growing accustomed to the smile I wear almost on the daily. I love myself, and now that I finally know how, I’m not going to stop any time soon.