Where did I hear this? I can’t remember exactly. It was at an awards ceremony when a survivor of the Holocaust who had been put on film (Spielberg?) said in an acceptance speech something like, “people think I am boring because I don’t care about going to so many places but still, after all these years, I have never gotten over the magic of a boring evening at home.”
Not to sound overly dramatic, but I understand this. I think a lot of ACOAs would. When something bad happens, that seems to come out of nowhere, that goes from bad to worse without your ever really knowing how that happened until one day your whole life was turned upside-down and is beyond repair…well, as the French say, “it marks you.”
I am never bored.
Rattled maybe, somewhat overly handwringing, hypervigilant and waiting for the other shoe to drop sometimes…well even more than sometimes. But not bored.
I am still intoxicated by what it feels like to have a life that has not folded back on itself, caved in, turned upside-down and inside out, or gone, as my Grandmother used to say “to smithereens.”
I am still grateful each and every day every hour on the hour to feel comfortable in my own skin, the way I recall feeling before, as my Mother was wont to say, “the shit hit the fan, pardon the expression.” (It’s impossible to talk about this without quoting my family.)
When I was a kid, I recall waking up in the morning pretty happy and calm, exited to see what the day might bring. Over time that changed; I would be hard pressed to give it a time, but let’s call it “the year of the bottle”, the year alcohol, like a thief in the night, stole my Dad and left someone else in his place. The world still looked the same. The weather, the trees, the sky all went on as they had, but everything else that held my life in place seemed different. I would wake up, still that happy kid, then, like a fog over the San Francisco Harbor, the reality of my life would close on me and I would remember, “nothing is as it used to be. We are falling apart.” And I would begin to make my mental list of things I needed to worry about that day. I think I saw it as a sort of psychological amulet, something I could hold in my mental hand so as to be prepared, to not get caught off guard and disillusioned and disappointed all over again at a possibly inopportune time.
I didn’t want, for example, to feel teary in the middle of the school hallway because I saw some girls talking about what to wear to prom as if it was the most important thing in the world; when I was worried about whether or not my father might drive drunk into a wall and kill himself. Nor did I want a repeat of crying while dancing with my nice boyfriend on New Year’s Eve because all my friends were drunk and I didn’t know how to handle it. I could only see it as the beginning of the end. I think I reasoned, in my teenage mind, that if I could get a sort of head start on the day’s worries and anticipate any upcoming dangers, I might somehow avoid being caught off guard and losing it. Or I could head off embarrassing myself and having to offer up answers to all sorts of questions I didn’t know any answers to.
So I am committing these thoughts to words, but my rabbit’s foot is nearby and I am wearing my cross around my neck. I take nothing for granted and do not assume much. I don’t want to jinx anything; I just want to say how much I love a quiet evening at home. How never boring they are, how the easy, normal rhythm of my life wraps me up in it and makes me feel so blessed and lucky. Nothing is perfect of course, but normal feels wonderful.
I want to say how deeply and endlessly grateful I am for finding recovery and for having the sense to stick with it, to go with the program, keep my soles in the room and put one foot in front of the other.
I still love the magic of a boring (not!) evening at home. Thank you, God, another one. Thank you, thank you, thank you.