I wonder, a lot, about what my life would be like today if I had lived the life I intended.  The “if only’s”  are abundant and reverberate around in my brain like a super ball bouncing from one screw up to the next. I said “I do”  when I was twenty three.  I had just come home from serving overseas during Desert Storm and was living on my own in a cute little one bedroom apartment downtown. In that moment of time my world was close to perfect. I had my fiancé whom I’d met on the other side of the world during the ruckus of the “conflict”. He was a fellow soldier and he made my life complete. My education was underway and paid for, my career on track, and the wedding was planned for a beautiful day in August.  I knew I would have a blissful and fulfilling life with my husband and the family I would have. My career as a Social Worker would grant me the opportunity of saving the poor lost souls in the world. (Little did I know I’d be one of them and completely unable to help myself.) After the career was established I’d have two perfect children, a house in the suburbs with a pool in the backyard and a Wednesday night book club where the girls would gather and actually discuss fashion trends, sex, and who did what to whom.

Flash forward twenty years. The only part of my dream I got right was the house in the suburbs with a pool in the backyard. Inside it there are two wonderful children who are far from perfect and  a marriage that is in a very sad state of disrepair, and if I were to be honest, it has been that way for about 15 years.  My husband is an extremely negative man and very judgemental. He has good qualities, but the negativity always finds it way to the surface. After about five years, the air was so thick with it I couldn’t breathe. Around that time I sustained  a neck injury and was prescribed pain medication. That first dose brought sunshine back into my sad, gray world. The relief came not only to my physical injury but also to my injured soul. It then subsequently cost me my career, my friends, two cars, and almost my life. It took several years but I came out of that and into an illness followed by a deep depression. I didn’t think I’d make it out again. I did. I still try to figure out at what point did my perfect plan begin to go awry, until I remind myself it doesn’t matter. Everything happens for a reason. I find comfort in those words. Today my world is manageable and much brighter. As I pick up the pieces of myself I am certain of one thing: I will not live the second half of my life like I lived the first half. It’s a battle sometimes to find the sun behind the clouds, but it’s there.

The following is not exactly my experience. It comes from watching a man numb his pain through alcohol. It comes from listening to others tell their stories in an old unused storage building. It comes from knowing that kind of gut wrenching pain. 

           Whiskey Demons

Sinking in the smell of sour whisky
I try to stand and fail.
The sun burns my eyes,
Yet is oddly comforting.
I flump against the wooden door.
Legs crinkle beneath me like
Old French fries,
And arms embrace a heaving gut.
Passersby turn their heads away
So as not to see the demons that
Pour from my throat.
Where is the night that
Hides me?
My scars expose themselves
Leaving me naked
From the inside out.
Moving to a shadow in the wall,
The smell of piss is
a turbulent force inducing
More wretchedness.
I am a shadow of a man
a demon in the dark
Seeing only that which overtakes me.

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