Faith Amidst the Cray-Cray

Life is a strange thing that I’ll never really understand. However, I take comfort in the fact that I don’t think we’re truly supposed to understand it.

I’ve often considered writing about certain things that have happened in my life, but I always end up deciding against it. For one thing, I have a terrible memory, and I really only remember the outlines of things. In some cases, I’ve forgotten the course of events entirely. I could blame the copious amounts of alcohol I’ve drunk as an adult, but that’s not really the culprit. Even as a kid, I had a bad memory. My mother used to say I had a “head like a spaghetti strainer.” The brain stays in the strainer, but thought and memory drains out. I’ve always been like that.

I already mentioned that I have a drinking problem. For the past ten years, I’ve had a passionate love/hate relationship with alcohol. It’s gotten me through a lot of hard nights, but also made for countless days of illness afterwards. Another big issue is that it’s strained my relationship with my mother. Due to the fact that we’re both single and not very wealthy, we live in the same house and share expenses. We recently lost our 17-year-old dog, which is definitely the hardest thing we’ve gone through as a family.

Last night, I found out that they’d halved the credit limit on my last credit card, I guess due to the pandemic. My largest card was maxed out with vet bills and home repairs. I drank a little too much and acted like an ass, which I didn’t even remember this morning and had to be reminded of. My mother’s not currently speaking to me, a little bit of an awkward situation given the fact that we’re stuck in the house together.

I’m ashamed of my behavior, of course. I’ve done this same thing more times than I can count. I’m not proud of it, and I’ll try not to do it again, but even when I promise myself I won’t, I still end up in the same cycle. At any rate, I will try my best not to even have one drink. Because when I have one, I have eight. I have no self-control. I admit this.

To say I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life is an understatement. But then, I’m sure a lot of people could say that. I try not to beat myself up about it, but at the same time, I wish I was a stronger person. You might not believe this, but when I was a kid, I was incredibly strong, emotionally and physically. I always had my fair share of mental health problems, of course, but I was still a lot different back then. I guess everyone’s different when they’re a kid. You have this implicit trust in everything, a complete and total lack of fear. If you need something, you ask Mom or Dad, you don’t have to figure it out yourself.

But then, you get older, and you can’t ask anyone to fix your problems. You have to do it yourself, and sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you’re just not strong enough. So you drink, or do drugs, or make some other bad choices. And the situation just keeps getting worse, eventually spiraling out of control.

And yet, I understand why I was so strong when I was little. Like I said, I was never afraid, I trusted my mom and I knew she would take care of things. I had faith in that.

Throughout most of my life, I had faith in God. But these past few years, I’ve been in a sparring match with Him, demanding to know why He wouldn’t change my circumstances, ordering for Him to explain why I had to be born this messy and screwed-up individual. If He existed, I said to myself, I wouldn’t be this way. I wouldn’t have been born this way.

The past few days, I’ve realized what a fool I was. Life isn’t perfect, and people aren’t perfect. God never said we were. In fact, He said that the only way to be perfect is through Him. There is no goodness in people, He admitted that. The only goodness we have, we get from Him. Which explains why, when I turn away from Him, I become an extremely crappy and fucked-up person. I mean, I’m always pretty fucked-up, but I think you catch my drift.

During the times in my life that I was happiest, I had complete faith in God. I trusted Him the way I trusted my mom when I was a kid. No matter what happened, I knew that He would take care of the things I couldn’t affect or change. When I stopped believing that, I started losing myself. Because the truth is, there’s no me without Him. There’s nothing good in me, at least. Without Him, I’m left with nothing but the vile, putrid bits. And trust me, those aren’t fun to swallow.

Last night, when I found out that my last cushion of credit had been taken away, I tried to maintain my faith, but once I started drinking everything went to shit. It’s about three o’clock now, my hangover is beginning to subside, and I feel really terrible about the way I acted. And yet, my faith is intact.

After my mom yelled at me this morning, I went for a walk, and though I spent the whole time thinking about my own regrettable behavior, I wasn’t really all that upset. I was rueful that my mom was (and still is) angry with me, I knew perfectly well that what I’d done was wrong, I was acutely aware of my poor financial situation, and my hangover was pretty bad. And yet, my faith was intact.

Seeing what’s going on in the world right now is unnerving and surreal, but it’s nothing that I didn’t expect. I always had a feeling I’d be around for the end of the world. This may not be the end, but I think it’s the beginning of the end. God’s timeline doesn’t work the way a human one does, and a certain number of years to us is just the blink of an eye to Him. Because of that, there’s never any way to predict when certain things will happen.

But it doesn’t take a Christian to see that things are bad. There’s no way to know just how bad they’re going to get. And yet, I’m not afraid. I’m like I was when I was a little kid. I have faith in the fact that God will see me through. That doesn’t mean things won’t be uncomfortable; that doesn’t mean things won’t hurt; that doesn’t even mean I won’t die.

But He’ll see me through. That’s all I need to know.

Red Cells

I got out of my car and started across the parking lot, making my way towards the hospital entrance. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.

I saw a large woman walking in front of me, and I glanced at my reflection in the shiny black paint of an SUV beside me. I’d once been as large as that woman. I still wasn’t thin, but I prided myself on having lost as much weight as I had. And, though I was slightly ashamed to admit it (even if it was only to myself), I was proud that I looked better than the woman who was walking in front of me.

I went into the hospital and boarded the elevator, riding up to the third floor. I checked in with the secretary at Dr. Moreno’s office, offering my new insurance card. I smiled at the secretary. I’d always liked her.

The small waiting area was full, so I went out to wait in the corridor. After a short while, the people in the waiting area left, and I went to sit down. I turned on my Kindle to read, only to find that the battery was dead. Damn. I’d thought I’d charged it.

I shut off the Kindle and sighed, folding my hands in my lap. I’d always been good at sitting silently. I didn’t really even get bored. My mind turned in slow circles, perhaps pondering the events of recent days, or even incidents ten years passed.

A little more than twenty minutes went by in this way, and then I heard Dr. Moreno’s voice – tinged with a strong Latin accent – calling out my initials. I rose from my seat and went down the corridor, smiling at Dr. Moreno as she ushered me into her office.

“Hello,” Dr. Moreno said, crossing the room to sit down in her chair in front of her computer. “How are you?”

“I’m well, and yourself?” I replied.

“Very good, thank you. How have you been feeling overall?”

“Nothing to complain about, really,” I answered. “There’s just one thing, though. Last time I was in, we discussed discontinuing the Topiramate, but I’ve decided to stay on it.”

“Well, whatever works for you, of course,” Dr. Moreno said. “That particular drug has many benefits, including anxiety and craving reduction. It can help with lowering your alcohol intake, too, which I know is an issue for you.”

I said nothing. Dr. Moreno was aware that I was an alcoholic, but we didn’t always talk about it. She accepted state insurance, which meant that she had a ton of patients, and probably had a lot of difficulty remembering everything about them. I liked her, though. She was a good person.

“Let’s have a look at your most recent bloodwork,” she said, pulling up the file. It was the same bloodwork she’d looked at during my last two visits, but I didn’t want to be rude.

“Everything’s normal,” she said, “except your red blood cells.”

She turned the computer monitor towards me. “You see this number here? It’s a little high, which means your red cell count is a little more than it should be. If you keep drinking heavily, they’ll continue to increase – and we both know that the vessels they pass through can’t get any bigger. That’s what causes strokes and heart attacks.”

“I see,” I said politely. She’d never explained it so concisely before, and though I was mildly concerned, I wasn’t exactly terrified.

“I can help you with your drinking problem, if you’re ready to take that step,” she offered.

“I’m not,” I said simply.

“Can you explain why?” she asked. “What’s your reason for drinking? Do you have anxiety? Problems sleeping? Is it a form of self-medication?”

I smiled thinly. “I just drink,” I replied.

She nodded without comprehension. “And you’re not willing to seek treatment?”

“No,” I returned. “I’m not willing.”

She nodded again. “All right, then.”

“But thank you,” I added. “I appreciate you taking the time to ask.”

“Of course,” she said. “Now – have you had any thoughts of harming yourself or others? Any voices or visions?”

She asked this question every time. My answer was always “no.”

“All right,” she repeated. “I’ll see you in three months.”

“Thank you for your time, Dr. Moreno,” I said.

She smiled, and I got up to leave. I booked an appointment for January with the secretary, then walked out of the office.

I checked my watch. Nearly three o’clock. I had a few errands to run before I went home, and it was supposed to rain. But I had no umbrella.

TV Time

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle

Run, run, run

Hurry, hurry, hurry

As fast as you can

So many things to do

So many things left undone

By the dip of the sun.

Night settles

For the thousandth time

And as you sit

With your drink

Eyes on the

TV screen

Wondering where

The day went

Your mind slows

Peace for now

Until the morrow.

OctoberFlashFic: M

My name is Emma, and I’m sitting here in my plush red chair, feeling completely alone.

I realize I’m more fortunate than many, but as I sip at my drink and tap at my keyboard, I feel like a ghost cut off from the entire human population.

There are so many memories – so many reminders of failures. But there’s also that last remaining spark, that thing that whispers in my ear, trying to let me know it’s not over yet. “Bank account doesn’t have to be fat,” it reminds me. “Keep working, it’ll be all right.”

And then there’s the fact that she’s still with me. If I were her, I would have taken off running months ago. But she’s still here. My pretty girl.

I sip at my drink, and I tap at my keyboard. The world is a vista of endless possibilities.