The past week was an eventful one. Well, actually it was just Thursday, but there was enough action to make it feel like a week. First of all, and most importantly, I celebrated 19 months of sobriety. Who whudda thunk it? If anyone had told me 19 months ago, that I could and would be free of alcohol for this long, I would have thought they were crazy. But here I am, over a year and a half later, still sober. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s a fucking miracle! I am so grateful that I haven’t had a desire to drink for so long.
Back to Thursday. Austin and I had been functioning (if you could call it that) on very little sleep for the previous week and a half. Our dog, Lucy, was pregnant and due any time. She is a chihuahua and needs a lot of help whelping puppies, so she couldn’t be left alone at all. We were afraid that she would go into labor when we were asleep, so we came up with the idea of sleeping in shifts. Austin would stay awake until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., wake me up, and then I would stay up and let him sleep until I had to leave for work. It wasn’t bad for the first few days, but as Lucy’s due date came and went, we became more and more sleep deprived. And more and more grumpy. Of course, we weren’t the only ones…Lucy was pretty uncomfortable herself.
Anyway, shortly past midnight Thursday morning, Austin woke me up to tell me that Lucy was in labor. Finally! I don’t know if we calculated her due date wrong, or if she just wanted to cook those little pups longer, but it seemed like she was gestating much longer than the normal 9 weeks. Of course, the last almost two weeks of broken-up sleep felt like a year all by itself. The first little girl was born around 1:30 a.m., followed pretty quickly by the runt of the litter. Lucy happily assumed the mama role and let the two nurse for a bit while she prepared for the remaining babies to make their appearance. After a couple of hours puppy #3, a little boy, came and then, finally, the last little girl. Mama and babies are doing well and the human work is done. It’s all up to Lucy and her full mammaries now.
I was overjoyed that I would be able to return to my normal sleep schedule. Oh, how I was looking forward to going to sleep at a normal time on Thursday night, and sleeping for longer than 4 or 5 hours. I was so happy anticipating my good night’s sleep that I didn’t even mind that I had to go to work for eight hours after being up since midnight. I knew that a reprieve was coming.
Perhaps I should’ve paid a little more attention to my sleep deficit. It had briefly occurred to me that maybe I should take the day off and get some rest. But I had already asked for next week off (my first vacation, or more accurately, stay-cation) since I went to rehab 19 months ago, so I didn’t feel like I could take the time off. So off I drove, but I didn’t get far.
Here’s what happened on my way to work:
I guess my exhaustion slowed my reflexes, because when the three cars in front of me slammed on their brakes, it took me too long to do the same. I rear-ended the Jeep in front of me and wrecked our minivan. The Jeep had very little damage, thank God.
I drove the broken van home and proceeded to have a meltdown. One thing I know is that I don’t handle crises very well. Intellectually, I know that everything will be ok, even if it takes a while. I can tell myself things like, “it could’ve been much worse” or “it’s just a car, I’m lucky no one was hurt.” But in the moment, I see those as platitudes, because surely, the end of the world is coming. As soon as my husband put his arms around me I dissolved into a mess of hopelessness. I don’t know if it’s my inner 5-year-old or my alcoholic thinker that tells me that things like this fender-bender are completely earth-shattering, but that’s where my mind goes when chaos hits. Knowing all of that, though, doesn’t help in the least during those times. When I am in meltdown mode, the only thing that helps is time. In this case, it took until mid-day Friday for me to believe the ‘platitudes’ of my own mind and those from my friends. It turns out that the damage to the car is almost all cosmetic, not as bad as it seemed at first. It’s ugly, but until we get it fixed, it’s nice to know that I won’t have to buy a bus pass.
The important thing that I can take from this is that while I would like to be able to move out of my basket-case, everything-is-shit mentality as quickly as I move into it, I can rest assured that I do always move out of it; that it will not last forever. And I don’t have to drink over it. Ever. In fact, I know from past experience, that drinking over it would only prolong my craziness, possibly to the point of no return. I could, in reality, end up where I just think I am in the midst of turmoil. And that would be a truly sad ending.
So today, I am thankful that things have turned out the way they have. I am thankful to be sober with a smashed-up car, and that it wasn’t something worse. I am thankful for all of my friends who have comforted me, expressed their gratitude that I’m ok, and offered help if we need it. I am grateful to have a week off work to read, and write, and be lazy. I am grateful for 19 months without booze. 🙂