I keep going back to that moment. The one where I laid on the floor of my newly rented apartment staring at the bottles I had lined up in a half circle around my body. I was tired. My body ached. My head was pounding. My vision was so blurry, I couldn’t even read the labels on the bottles. For that moment, my emotions had subsided. I didn’t feel any hurt or sadness. No heartbreak or sense of loss was anywhere to be found. It was all physical, bone crushing pain. I finally mustered up whatever energy I had left to sit up and open each bottle.
My fingers fumbled with the child proof caps and the bed of my nails caught the edges just enough to send shooting pains up my arms. I spilled one of the bottles and I watched Tyson, my six pound Pomeranian, sniff the treasure on the floor and walk away in indifference. Just a few remained in my hand and I put them in my mouth, took a drink, and swallowed. I took a little from each bottle, hoping, praying, and pleading for sleep. Maybe I was suicidal. Maybe I didn’t know what suicidal was. I just wanted the pain to stop.
I drug myself to my bed and collapsed face down on my pillow. I cried and tried to think about how I ended up here. How did I get to this moment? This was not supposed to be my life. I was the girl who had it all together. I was supposed to keep it together. I was not supposed to be…this.
The real story begins the minute She died. I had never felt such freedom. My world was turned upside down. I no longer had to answer to anyone. There was never going to be anyone that was going to keep me accountable for anything but me, and that was exactly how I had always wanted it. I felt liberated. Or so I thought.
The truth was that I had no idea how to live without Her. I spent so much of my life living how She wanted me to, I had no idea where to go or what to do. All I could do now was exactly what She and I had planned after her death. So I took my inheritance and I mourned the only way I knew how to without Her.
I threw caution to the wind, because that’s what everyone else around me wanted me to do. There was no more judgment about what I did or didn’t do and as long as my daughter wasn’t around it, it wasn’t anyone’s business but my own. I gradually saw my daughter less and less, and no one questioned it. As my daughter spent more time with her father, I spent more time running from the mourning process.
I found mixed comfort in a man She would’ve hated. He was an addict, which I denied. He was using me for money, which I denied. He had no interest in me, which I denied. But he was willing to stay with me for as long as I needed him to. We would meet up at a friend’s house, play cards for a while and start drinking. In the beginning, it was fun for him. I was the life of the party.
I was drowning my pain one shot at time. The more I drank, the less I felt, and the less inhibitions I had. Do a shot, smoke a joint, do a shot, smoke a joint . . . the door was ever revolving until it was time to leave and go to which ever hotel we had decided on that night. The next night, it was more of the same. The money never seemed to run out. More booze, more pot, more pills, meant no pain and more him. The longer I had him, the less I thought about Her.
One morning I laid there watching him sleep in our hotel room. It made me incredibly sad. He was a beautiful human; he had feelings that no one else knew about but me. I believed they were real, but I also believed they were the reason he was an addict. That was a place I never wanted to be. And yet, here I was, lying in this bed with him at five in the morning because I was so ashamed of the lifestyle I had kept for the last month that I felt I had to hide it from my family.
That same day, my daughter’s father gave me a shake down on reality. He had found out about the whole affair, my spurt with alcohol, and my hotel hot romps, all of it. He stood in front of me and threatened to take away my child if I continued on the road I was on, and in that moment, I knew he had the grounds to do it.
He stood there screaming at me, telling me that I couldn’t see the other guy any more, that I could only see him. He told me I had to marry him because he could no longer trust me. He held my car door open so that I couldn’t close it and when I threatened to break the door off, he jumped behind the vehicle nearly causing me to run him over. The only way I was leaving was with a police escort and I wasn’t sure if it would be to assist me or arrest me.
I fell to the ground sobbing. I hated him, and I knew that he was just trying to regain control over me like he had before. But deep down, I also knew he was right about the guy. I had to end that. I had to get myself back, for me and for my daughter, so that we could continue to move on from this moment right here. I did not love her father, I did not want to be with her father because all he ever did was this.
I spent the next several months cleaning up what that one month had destroyed. I tried to seek out the father-daughter connection with my stepfather She left behind, but he was more interested in what he had established prior to Her passing. My real father was in prison and still had a year left in his sentence, not that I had ever had a real relationship with him anyway. I felt like an orphan.
A few months later, my heart softened towards my daughter’s father and I decided to give it one more try. Despite my desire for giving up all things toxic, I allowed the swirl of pot and unemployment to suck me dry of all hope and aspiration. But I assumed that this was as good as I was ever going to get and the spring after She died, I drug my daughter’s father to Florida and proposed to him on the beach. He declined a week later because he wanted to grow pot instead of getting a real W-2 producing job. And that was finally the end of that.
Aside from my binge, I had stuck to the plan She and I had talked about before She died and everything was set in place. Except, my stepdad did not follow his part of the plan. After taking me for $30,000 of my inheritance that was supposed to refinance the house, he kicked me out of my house and moved in his new girlfriend. I was left with nowhere to go and ended up selling Her gold coin to a tradesman to get enough money to rent an apartment.
My only saving grace was that of my employer. I had a wonderful boss who sympathized whole-heartedly, though I’m certain she did not understand. I came to work every day with no more than two or three hours of sleep (and sometimes no sleep at all), high on pot, sometimes hung over, and overwhelmingly depressed, and she just kept letting me work. She knew I was hurting. She knew I had no one. She became my constant, the one constant I needed when I needed it the most.
But that wasn’t enough. I was alone. At the end of the day, there was no one who really cared. There was no father, no one who loved me, no one who gave a shit, no Her. Just me and several little bottles of pills. One by one, I took the caps off the bottles, and swallowed a few of each kind. And then, I laid there on my bed, waiting. At some point, despite the pounding in my head, the needle pricks at every nerve, and the stiffness of every muscle, I finally fell asleep.
I awoke with the sun shining in my face, the same way I remembered I had fallen asleep. I wondered if I had actually slept or if my body and mind was playing a cruel trick. I reached for my phone to check the time and date and it was dead. I plugged it in to charge up and waited the required thirty seconds to get the welcome screen. It was two days later.
Immediately I began to sob. I was no longer angry at the world, but grateful that I had even awakened from my forty-eight hour slumber. I realized the gravity of what I had done and the desperation I was feeling that lead me to that moment. It was my rock bottom, and the only direction I had to go now was up.
I made a promise to myself that day: I was going to allow myself to mourn. I would cry every day if I felt like it. She was my best friend. She was my rock. She was my mother. I deserved to mourn her loss. I promised that I would change my life, because my life was worth living. I was wrong. I was not alone; I had a beautiful child to share it with. I promised that I would breathe. I would live. I would love.
As of today, I have kept every promise I made that day.