Clear and brlliant evening early last night, the full moon spilling over into the garden. We went out for a Mexican supper and chatted over grape juice and unsophisticated but plentiful chillied-up con carne and ready-to-go reheated tortillas and fresh-from-the-can black beans. Very much South African village homecooking, enthusiasm without any idea what the real thing might involve. But everyone seemed happy enough, the restaurant full, harsh smell of chilli fried with onions, small tables with dark red fake rosebuds in long-stemmed vases in the centre and little green jalapenos like jellybabies as decorative accessories on our side plates.
Got up before dawn and peered out, hoping to catch sight of the lunar eclipse (had seen the sky darkening through my bedroom window) but the first of the Cape autumn mists was rolling into the valley, obscuring the skies. Mysterious lunar events, invisible for the most part.
Woke calm and clear, steady within myself. That feeling, by now so familiar, of gratitude welling up like clear water from a country stream. To have been given a second chance at life. Nothing very much in my life has changed outwardly, but inwardly nothing remains the same. This is the core of hopefulness, this difference and the thankfulness at being given a second chance to begin my life over.
Unless someone has found herself trapped in dependence and known that daily need to drink, waiting to drink, wanting not to drink, thinking of drinking earlier, wishing all one’s thoughts were not about drinking, the inflamed and turbulent thoughts while drinking after that brief euphoria on starting to drink, the dulling, the depression, the slipping away, the rages and storming — the passing out, the forgetting — waking ill and shaky, the conviction something terrible has happened, convinced one cannot go on like this, feeling as if years have passed while one was sleeping, that one’s life is sliding away under dark water, secretly, invisibly, inexorably. Drowning, dying. Waking again sweaty and nauseous, taking painkillers and analgesics and antacids, unable as yet to face coffee, craving orange juice or fatty foods. Itching nerve ends, upset stomach, pounding head and red swollen eyes, skin grey and greasy, the urge to vomit, the jitters, sudden bursts of mad euphoria, telling oneself anarchic jokes, moods seesawing up and down. Waiting to drink. Wishing one were not waiting to drink.
Feeling better at last, drinking again, the relief and pleasure of it. The sweet anaesthetic, the postponing and staving off of pain and anxiety, putting life on hold, taking the phone off the hook, not answering the door, ceasing to care about consequences. Losing oneself all over again.
And that is how the decades went by. As simple as that. As invisible and often as overlooked as a lunar eclipse in the early hours of the morning. Something darkening and disappearing from my life while I was not paying attention. Finally waking one morning to realise I had lost the will to live.
The gift of desperation given to me at last. To give up and admit defeat and ask for help was to begin again.