Stuck Alive

 2014-09-28 11.34.48

Having survived the bloody escapade at the cottage, it became apparent to me that I was going to to be forced to live. To the long list of failures in my life, I could now add failing to kill myself because I hadn’t even been able to manage that. I figured that if I was going to be stuck alive, I was going to have to do something about the way I was living. I was still the consummate victim and to my way of thinking, most everything that was wrong in my life was a direct result of all the abuse I had suffered. In truth, everything in my life was a direct result of all the abuse I had suffered in my life in combination with my poor decisions about how to live in relationship to my experience. I had done the best I could, though,  and even now I don’t fault myself. I was sick and not bad. There are a lot of people with stories similar to mine that didn’t make it out at all. I’ll give my young self props for surviving, albeit very sloppily at times.

I decided to turn my life around. (Sounds familiar, huh?)

Oddly, one of the first things I decided to do was to make amends to the people I had harmed by my behavior. This was before I would ever be introduced to any “design for living” that would include the amends process as a part of a way to stay sober. I knew that in addition to the ridiculous amounts of abuse I had heaped on myself, I knew that others had been hurt along the way. In truth, I was no where near ready to launch into some grand amends-making process but I was determined to get better and something innate inside me knew that this would be part of the way I was going to have to move forward.

Nowadays, if anyone approaches me seeking help with trying to get sober, I always dissuade them from trying to start making amends right away. That’s a process best left for a little bit latter down the road. But I had no one guiding me. All I had was this determined force inside me that said if I was going to have to live, I was going to learn to live better. Ironically, one of the first people I chose to make amends to was Waverly and there’s probably some very layered and not-readily-apparent reasons why this was. I’ve leave that self-psychoanalysis for another time but I think I have some leads.

I appeared at Waverly’s door to explain why I had disappeared without even a note. No matter what I felt about how he had used his money and my desperate situation to control me, I felt like I owed him some explanation. When I walked in he just looked at me with a bewildering expression on his face that said “why, how could you?” Then he saw my bandaged wrists and immediately knew what had happened. He took my forearms gently in his frail hands and lifted my wrists to see the evidence more closely of what I had done— and I do believe also (perhaps only as a part of the story I tell myself) the evidence of what he had done or at least had a part in. He was a brilliant man and although we had both “willingly” played a part, we were part of a centuries old sexual relationship paradigm between older men and younger ones based on power disparity— different types of power in each direction. We must have looked like a twisted tableau of Thomas examining Christ’s wounds. (Telegraphing my messianic complex for a second time there— did you catch it?) I had told you that Waverly found similarities between his longtime friend Scottie Fitzgerald (the daughter, not the father) and me. Scottie had ultimately taken her own life so my attempt was very re-traumatizing for Waverly. We sat and had a long conversation. I had told him that I was very sorry but I was not sexually attracted to him and that our “bedroom life” had been a great source of angst for me. He had to have known this of course but again we were operating inside a sick paradigm so that even during the talk we were having he still felt compelled to play his role and therefore acted surprised at the information that I hadn’t had sex with him because I wanted to. We apologized to each other as if discussing a missed lunch date and he made me swear that I would seek help for my depression. I told him that in fact I had already made the call.  He said that he would help in any way he could.

We said goodbye shaking hands and agreeing to try and build a platonic friendship. (The etymology of that word, given our past relationship could serve as the seed for a blog post of its own if not a book.)

I wasn’t lying to Waverly about the phone call. I had actually gone to the phone book (remember those) and looked up sources that might help me with dealing with the depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. To my way of thinking it was the first two that were leading to the third. I still was unwilling to consider the possibility that I might be an alcoholic.

The only thing I found in the phone book that looked like something I could afford was through the Tuscaloosa County Department of Mental health which said that clients were expected to pay according to their ability and I had no ability to pay. Even though Waverly had made the offer, I was done taking his (or anyone’s) money for fear of what strings might be attached. The Public Mental Health System seemed like the right choice for me. It was for people like me. I called the number and made the appointment. It was the beginning of what has been a very long journey for me, a journey that began with my, for the first time, really reaching out for help.

See y’all tomorrow.

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