it's no secret that there have been some scary incidents in my life, points where the edge was suddenly under my toes and threatening to pass under me, dropping me fast and far to god only knows what. it's not a fun place to be. but i have been beyond fortunate in my life. i've been surrounded by people who love me, in both happy times and scary ones. i love them back, and i appreciate the support and the love they've shown me more than i could ever articulate. it's a rare privilege to have such a fantastic coterie of nearest and dearest.
but alongside the external support, i have always managed to have a backstop, somewhere deep down inside me, that's pulled me back from the brink. sometimes it manifests itself in times of fun, when i need to make that decision to either not take that last drink or risk the hangover from hell. (now, in that circumstance, i don't always listen to the backstop, but i am always granted, somehow, a five-minute or so window in every drunken bacchanalia that lets me say "when.") other times, though... well, this is the first time i've discussed any of this as publicly as this, but here we go.
there have been two times in my life when the darkness was most dangerous. once, i was very young, and facing failure on a grand scale for the very first time. it threatened to overwhelm me. i remember this night as being at equal turns hazy and very sharp. there were perilous circumstances all around me as i sat alone in my dorm room. rational thought? forget it. but suddenly, quite out of nowhere, i thought, i should call the boy. ("the boy" here is my ex.) so i dialed him up and said something to the effect of, you need to come over right now. he did. thankfully, i did not lock my door in that dorm if i wasn't leaving, so he came right in and stopped me from making a decision that, let's face it, wouldn't have ended well. that bolt out of the blue, that phone call, saved me from some really bad consequences. backstop.
the other time was very recently. i've sketched it out briefly here. that was a long, dark night alone in my bedroom, drinking wine and considering my options. but somehow, some way, i had the thought, i should text the man. i know i didn't make sense. he kept me on the line, so to speak. are you okay? what do you need? do you want me to come over? you're scaring me. i'm coming to get you. and he did. he drove over, in a blinding thunderstorm, took me home with him and held me through the night. he didn't stop all the damage, but he certainly capped what could've gone down. i don't have a lot of recall at all about that night. there's blurriness, haze, and disorientation everywhere. but i do remember, VERY clearly, one gap in the confusion. for some reason, this song was playing (some late-night talk show, i guess), and the thought to text him came then. backstop.
this all came to me because of some stresses in the lives of friends of mine. people have thrown up their hands and admitted to needing help, and in a couple of cases, the choice to get that help was not theirs alone. help is an amazing thing, especially when you're suffering. having it foisted on you is one thing. but being able to stop yourself before the edge upon which you're balanced slips past you? priceless. absolutely priceless. i don't know where i get this power, this ability, this backstop i have. but my god, there's nothing about myself that i love and value more. my impulse to self-preserve, somewhere under all of this, has been vital. here's hoping i never, ever lose it.
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