We all, all of us, go through our day as automatons at times. Checking off a to-do list, getting through little accomplishments, waiting impatiently for bedtime. We figure out what we can do to make each day easier, faster, less struggle. This is basic survival! Bring on the coffee.
What is getting lost in the shuffle though?
A year and a half ago, deep in my alcohol and drug addiction, everything came easy for me. I had achieved the American dream — peak acquired amenities. New car with sunroof, leather seats, and satellite radio; lawn man and maid; full Sunday football package on my TV; and a Whole Foods grocery budget. My amenities became my necessities, my list of necessities grew exponentially, and micromanaging them became a monolithic stressor. I wasn’t grateful for a damn thing. I had it easy, but I sure as hell didn’t know it.
Unfortunately, I was about to micromanage my actual necessities — my family and my home — right out of my life.
In the space of an hour, my marriage, my son, and my beautiful house were gone. I went from couch to couch to couch to homeless shelter (where once I ate an entire bowl full of granola before I realized there were bugs in it) to hospitals to, finally, rehab. I didn’t see my son or hear his voice for 68 days, then only under direct supervision for 10 months.
During the 68 days I didn’t see, hear, or touch my son, my soul died. It did. A hole the size of my corn-fed 9-year-old formed inside me. There were days I cried, days I slept, and days I watched the 30 or so YouTube videos of him over and over again until I went numb. Every night I would lie in bed trying to remember what the top of his head smelled like and I was successful for about 3 weeks. When I could no longer summon that memory, I died even more.
Today is better. I’m 2 days shy of 8 months sober. I have stable housing, transportation, and employment. My food is all bug-free. My estranged husband and I are good friends, putting our son ahead of our individual wills and creating a workable separate symbiosis.
My son is back in my life to the fullest extent. I can smell his head anytime I want — I often regret it, since a thorough shampoo is low on his list of priorities for him, but the fact remains, I can.
When I’m in my graciously loaned truck with him, he will reach over and grab my hand to hold it. He’ll run his thumb between my fingers mindlessly, tracing a path I assume serves as a comfort.
I try not to take this for granted but a year of life without him has brought some selfishness back. Sometimes I want to skip a song on my iPod. Sometimes I want to twirl my hair. Sometimes I want to adjust the rear view mirror to appreciate my eyeliner game. I have to remind myself, though; this could be the last time I hold his hand.
Well, no, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. But should I be granted a few tomorrows with that little boy, he’s gonna stop holding my hand because I’m not a pubescent terrori- I mean girl. He has already told me “I don’t want you involved in my love life.” (That was granted a tepid reception.)
I really may only hold his hand one more time before he starts taking extra long showers and I don’t want to be anywhere near whatever is under his fingernails.
I have to remind myself hold his hand mindfully. Gratefully. Let the moment last.
Do one thing mindfully today. Pick one task and imagine your life without it, and complete that task with your full attention. Take a different way to work. Make a coworker laugh. Chew and taste your food. Hug a dog. Touch a butt. (One you’re allowed to touch.)
Enjoy something you take for granted today like it’s the last time you’ll get to do it. You might like what happens.