My life has changed drastically from the way it was when I was a daily commenter on Jezebel, which you guys out there may or may not remember. I was an MD-PhD student at a school you’ve heard of. I had a very serious boyfriend, Fellowology, who was a brilliant scientist and loveable geek. I had a tight group of grad school girlfriends with whom I raised hell at the grad student bar and organized events as representatives of the grad student body. I hosted dinner parties and board game nights. I invested in decorating my cute little downtown apartment, frequented the jazz club I could hear each night when my windows were open, shopped twice a week European-style at the co-op grocery, and never failed to attend the monthly themed street fairs in my little artsy neighborhood. I had a full, busy life of friends, school, and my boyfriend, and I could envision how my carefully planned future was going to unfold one year, five years, ten years out. I was a twenty-something looking forward to my thirties. I was going to be a physician-scientist, married to my physicist boyfriend, living and working and loving life in Los Angeles once I finished my MD-PhD. Instead I got pregnant, had an abortion, and collapsed into a spiral of grief and, ultimately, alcoholism.
Apart from “alcoholic,” I don’t know anymore how to finish the sentence “I am a…” But God knows I get plenty of practice concluding it that way in AA. Leaving medical school meant losing the identity I’d had since before I was 13: future doctor. My relationship with Fellow was poisoned the moment I discovered I was pregnant. I can see that clearly now, but we held onto that relationship for years after the fact. It was messy, dramatic, stressful, and ultimately doomed. Alcoholism is a cyclone that pulverizes your life and sense of self and then ricochets outward to inflict pain on everyone near you. Fellow couldn’t tolerate more days of his life spent in that madness, trying to drag me out of my grief. He had to leave to spare his sanity, and I don’t blame him for it. After that I wasn’t a medical student, wasn’t Fellow’s girlfriend, wasn’t anyone with a future.
I gave up trying to hold all the pieces together and left school nearly three years ago, about two years into my alcoholism. I packed up my memories and my puppy, put nearly everything I owned in storage, and moved my disastrous life into the spare bedroom of my parents’ hip, luxury, downtown condo - the one they sold the big suburban house to enjoy their retirement in. Instead they have my dog, my depression, my alcoholism. My empty bottles. My blackouts. My 30 days, 60 days, 45 days, relapse. The sound of me sobbing so hard at night that I can hardly breathe. Their desperation and hopelessness. The DUI. The time in rehab. A night in the ER for alcohol intoxication. Lost keys, lost jackets, lost reputation. Their wine collection in a friends’ basement, and what little liquor they keep on hand behind a padlock. It isn’t safe to keep vanilla extract in the house.
I miss baking.
I’m about 30 days sober as of now. I so badly want this time to be different. I want this to be the time I achieve long term sobriety and get the chance to move forward and make something out of myself and my life. I want a real job that I’m proud of and a career path I’m excited to be on. I want a full life of friendships and adventures and hobbies. I want to make plans with the man I love. Instead, today I work retail and am nearing a year with my older, married boyfriend. His kids don’t know about me, but they aren’t likely to ever notice that there’s a toothbrush next to his, and that’s the only evidence of my existence. If you were his Facebook friend or his client or even his neighbor, you wouldn’t know he doesn’t live with his wife. I love him madly, but I don’t know how he feels. He doesn’t say it back anymore. I try not to think about it.
But in any case, it’s not his responsibility to magic my life better. I have to do the work. My dog deserves a better mama who takes better care of herself so she can take better care of him. In interest of that, I’d better sign off here. I have work in the morning, and I need to give him a nice walk beforehand. Thank you for listening, GT. It feels healing to get all of this off my chest, and I hope it might be alright to continue sharing about my life here. The writing helps.