My mom said that to me one morning during my recent holiday visit. We were sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home in suburban Chicago, where my husband and I bunked from Christmas Day until New Year’s Eve, sleeping in my old bedroom until an unheard-of 9 AM (10 Eastern!) every day. I had consumed only half a pot of coffee at the time — 2019 was a year for starting to kick the alcohol addiction; maaaaaaybe we’ll tackle caffeine in 2020 — so I didn’t really grasp what she was saying.
Also, at that particular moment, I absolutely did not feel different.
In fact, even without the full coffee rush, my brain had already begun its daily race, unleashing the same ripples of anxiety that had launched thousands of disappearing acts throughout my life — some as recent as 12 hours prior. I was already busy plotting my next escape out of the house to the local forest preserve trail for a long walk, just me and my new wireless headphones and the Binge Mode ‘Game of Thrones’ podcast that is my latest non-food/beverage obsession.
I moved through my first sober holiday season in a bit of a daze, observing everything around me with wide eyes and mute mouth, like an overstimulated toddler: Bright lights! Lots of people! Piles of gifts! Plates of food! Pots of coffee! Nonstop noise! News and talk shows on TV! Where’s the remote?! Oh shit, there are little kids here and I can’t put on “Game of Thrones”! I have to get the f*ck out of here NOW!
There were times I sat among my loved ones, my parents and aunts and sisters and their hubbies and children, listening to them talk around the table, and was so overwhelmed that I could not for the life of me conjure up one single thing to add to the conversation. So I did what I always do, which is either flee the scene or shove something in my mouth. Continue reading “One-Eighty”