77 Days in and I am pretty content with a hint of anxiety. I have a lot of road ahead of me. I have been dwelling a lot on my past. Specifically in my New York City years. I was very unsafe. I took risks that I didn’t otherwise feel were at the time but looking back on that time period I was a real full on alcohol abusing individual with no boundaries.
One thing that I am FEELING right now inside the current me is a mix of horrified wonderment of that person I was at that time and dealing with the person I am now. At that time, I didn’t care if I lived or died. That was clear by my actions. I am feeling very pained by looking back at the young Jen. She is terrifying. Let me paint a really clear picture:
- Solo bar hopping in the East Village while roommate is away; drunken subway ride home in late hours; solicited many times – I recall one night when I was solicited so hardcore that I thought any moment I would be followed home and God knows what else.
- Solo bar hopping in the East Village while roommate is with new boyfriend. Meet a guy. A “former” skinhead born and raised in New York, short stint in Virginia (hence skinhead girlfriend) and what do I do? Give him my phone number, get in a car with him and his friend (who I don’t know) so they can drop me off at the 59th street bridge to catch subway home. Where were they off to? After hours gambling racket. Reckless? Nah. I was brave. He did call. He said “I was a terrific broad” I never saw him again.
- Solo clubbing. This is a frequent theme. I was alone a lot on weekends. No-one was around. Either I was going home or spending it pretty much alone. I loved the city at night. I felt like it was a big, black cocoon. I’d go dancing where I made a few “regular” dance friends.
- 4am, walk up 57th street to where I lived for a short time. Bump into young owner of the Irish bar I lived above. Come in for after hours? Sure thing. I think I found my bed at 7:00am.
- Random night, out with roommate and friends. Black-out, get lost. Get home somehow. I think I may have walked 20 blocks or so. Needless to say, roommate was pissed. This is before cell phones.
- Dangerous liaisons. Short-lived and sloppy. Making out in front of the Dakota on the very spot where John Lennon was shot. Make love not war baby. (Owner of bar incident; lets just say at the time he was really cute and Irish)
- I also drank alone. I’d cut myself. I would burn shit in my apartment (mostly old pictures of most hated former boyfriend)
Segway forward. After I left New York, I moved home. I had a nervous breakdown. This was #2 in my life and in my 20’s. The first one happened after a friend died suddenly from pneumonia. Who does that in their early 20’s? Apparently someone with a heart condition. The second one was triggered because I felt like a failure. In my occupation, I was really good at my job. I thought I had another job in the bag when I moved home but it fell through along with the floor beneath me. I did cut back on the drinking but it sustained. I was driving again. That is a whole other chapter of horrors in the “experience” of Jen.
What my nervous breakdowns felt like. They felt like a constant fear and dread. Things would float in front of me as I moved; the rooms always spun. I could never feel secure or grounded. Only long drives and lots of alcohol would help. If I wasn’t working, I was somewhere with friends. Once I gained control again of my life; I tried to remove everything that tied me to that past. I stopped listening to certain music and started to dress fairly conservative. I felt like a complete phony. I kept this up for a long, long time.
Looking back, I am so scared for the young Jen. There are many times I feel an angel sitting on my right shoulder. It feels tangible. It is always there. That feeling is so real. It is stronger now since I stopped drinking. I am starting to identify very distinct phases of “Jen.” The alcoholic, dependent Jen.
What is wonderful about quitting drinking? The feelings I now have. I have a bad cold. I use to ignore colds and mask them in a sea of meds, booze and hangovers. That I could deal with. Now, NOW – I am sick. I have a cold. It’s appearance is whiny and pathetic but I am grateful for it. I am clearly in the present and with my energy sapped at every turn and a constant stream of tissues lined up in my wake; I have a cold. Simple as that.
Next steps…trip to New York City with my husband. Booze free. It will be a memorable and happy experience.