While I was still drinking, I never wanted to go home.
Not after work, not after a long, hard day, not after a dinner out with friends. Never.
I’d come home for about ten minutes after being wherever I’d been, drop my bag, change into something comfortable, and head right to the pub. I’d stay there until I was blacked out or ’til the place closed. And, if I was quasi cognizant when I left my bar stool, it was a pretty safe bet that by the time I got back to my apartment, I’d be ready to pass out, if I wasn’t three quarters of the way there already.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering that urge to be away from home in my sobriety. What it is exactly that makes being there so, well, uncomfortable. Because, I still feel it. As I leave my treatment center, or an AA meeting, or the gym, there is this moment of panic. A moment where I realize that I have to go home, and, I have to be there. Sober.
I like my apartment. In fact, that’s the understatement of the century, I love my apartment. It’s by far the best spot I’ve ever rented. Roomy, built in the 30’s, a fireplace and hardwood floors. It has so much charm. In sobriety, I’ve decorated it, made it homey. But, there’s still that loneliness. That feeling that it’s just me, and all my ghosts, walking the rooms. And, even though I’ve been forcing myself to sit through that discomfort, that feeling of not belonging, in this place that’s mine, it’s really hard. And, there are some nights I just can’t come straight home.
As I was leaving my treatment center the other night, that feeling came over me. That feeling that I’ve had so, so many nights before. That feeling that I all I wanted to do was walk in my front door, drop my bag on the ground, turn on my heels and go straight over to the pub. I wanted to sit on my bar stool. Have the bartender push my vodka and soda in front of me without my ever having to ask for it. I wanted to play all my jukebox standards. I wanted all the regulars, young and old, to pony up next to me at the bar and talk the hours away with me until 2:30AM, when I’d stumble home and into my bed.
I’ve had enough time sober to know that’s not how I really wanted my night to go. With my three month coin just days away, I couldn’t do such a thing. I’ve worked too hard, and I am far too strong and proud. But, then there was this feeling. And, it wasn’t going anywhere. I knew I’d be damned before I would tempt fate by walking through my front door and seeing where my feet would take me next. So, instead, I drove to Hawthorne Blvd to escape my mind. It was dark, cold, and miserably wet, even for Portland. But, I parked my car and walked the block up and down. Looking sadly into shops, windows lit with festive Christmas lights and filled with happy holiday shoppers.
The phenomenon of craving. The drink. The fix. The coping skill so deeply set in my bones, that, I can’t even go home some nights. I can’t even go home.
This holiday season is strange and trying. Even with a fantastic milestone in my sobriety ahead of me, right ahead of me, things are dark. The world is caving in, just a little. And, I have to really try to remember why it is I got sober. Why I want to stay sober. All those things that nag at me, dragging me into the past or pulling me into the future…I just want them to go away.
I want to be able to live in this skin again. I want to be able to live in the here and now. I want to be able to walk in my front door and feel relief.
I want to go home.