My favorite book from childhood was about a little girl who wakes up one night to the sounds of scratching from underneath her bed. It turns out to be a mischievous demon only she can see. He kicks her out of her own bed, eats all her sugar cookies and slurps all her milk, and gets her in trouble by hanging a turkey from the dining room chandelier. The story was great, but the illustrations were really what got me.
He was so darn cute that I very much wanted my own demon or at least a cat or dog that looked like a demon. In the story, the demon gets attached to an oddly shaped glass bottle, a rubber snake, and those sugar cookies. Eventually the girl comes to love the demon, which is his cue to split, so he climbs into the night sky with all his favorites except for the oddly shaped bottle because it’s too cumbersome to carry.
“These demons, that’s how they are,” soothes the girl’s grandmother. “They come and go, come and go.” The girl is so heartbroken, she cries herself to sleep.
I liked to think the demon might come back to her one day, if only for more milk and cookies. From what I know about demons now, they don’t ever really leave us.
Recently I started to think of myself as a non-drinker. It felt important somehow to identify with others who choose not to drink. There are such fortunates – those who just don’t like the taste or get nauseated or headachey from one glass of wine. There are also startling differences between me and someone who simply prefers a glass of lemonade over a bottomless gin and tonic. I will never be that kind of person.
On Friday I had a rough night. Part of it was pms (sorry guys), part of it was that moon, part of it was just my 4 year-old showing us she has the self-will of her mother and father combined (god help us all). She threw the temper tantrum of all temper tantrums at the mall and then in the car and then in the garage and finally in the foyer, where she also grabbed the cat and sobbed into his damp fur because she felt so rotten and I was so mad I could barely look at her. Mother of the year.
On the very loud, very terrible drive home a single thought had popped in my head. I want a cigarette and a drink and I want to get the fuck out of here. These demons, they come and go, come and go. I wanted to punish my family as much as I wanted to disappear from the pain. This was not my finest moment, but I didn’t drink over it. I did go home and put the child to bed after giving her a hug and telling her I love her. Then I went in my room and had a good cry. It lingered with me the rest of the night, that ugliness.
The next morning I woke up and the ugliness was mostly gone. The day’s fun swept away any remaining gloom and gave me perspective. It was just another temper tantrum. She’ll outgrow them. I could have handled it better. I will next time.
Lately the little things have cut me more deeply than they should. My nerves are too exposed, too raw, and if I keep feeling life like this, I will drink again. I plan to get back to a more regular meeting schedule this fall and share more. I plan to bake apple pies (thanks to dear, sweet RunningOnSober). I plan to do everything under the sun and falling leaves but not drink.