September 14, 2009

Maybe It's Me: September 12th, or, The Worst Day of My Life

It’s amazing to me how a single event that would appear trivial and otherwise unimpressive on the surface can turn out to be one of the most defining and pivotal moments in our lives.

One never knows when that life-altering incident is going to occur; the solitary experience that will send ripples through the rest of your life’s choices.

For me, I’ve been reflecting on such a moment in my own life’s story that happened a year ago and in my reflections am in total awe at how clearly I remember the event that happened, and how raw the emotions from it and from the months that followed still are in my heart and mind.

When I have my heart broken I give myself a time-frame to grieve. Depending on the severity, I usually give myself between six months and a year for my heart to heal.

Last year I had my first relationship-related heartbreak where I was the heartbreakee (after having spent my entire life as the heartbreaker). I returned home from Europe for a boy in a rock band whom I thought was waiting for me. Forty-eight hours after being back stateside he told me he didn’t actually love me anymore and that perhaps it would’ve been best if I hadn’t come home at all.

He broke my heart in the spring, so I gave myself until the holidays in December to get over it. The problem was that despite his now apparent disinterest in me, it didn’t prevent him from continuing to have a meaningless, sexually-based relationship with me for several months after which didn’t help my grieving process at all.

Throughout those months of casual dating with him, I frequently pushed for commitment like we had had prior to my overseas departure. He would brush me off and make rude comments about how unimportant commitment was, and we would continue to exist in our warped fake relationship with one another. I realized over the course of those months that he was in fact seeing other girls and had started talking to his ex-fiancée with more frequency.

Following Labor Day he grew exceptionally distant and I snapped, I told him that I knew there was something going on with ex-fiancée. He denied it, and then went missing for a few days. Come to find out he had in fact driven ten hours to visit with her and then decided to bring her back with him so that she could see him perform at one of his last concerts.

My friends and I had planned on going to see him perform, so when he texted me only hours before the show to let me know she was with him, I was devastated. But, she was the love of his life, I was never naïve, I knew this, so I forced myself to go that night to see what she looked like.

Every one of his friends and family members, who never liked me, showed up at the performance to see his ex-fiancée. The one friend of his that I thought liked me went out of her way to come up to my table of friends to ask me if I knew that he carried pictures of her in his truck and in his wallet, because she was his muse.

I proceeded to get very, very drunk.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: alcohol, I knew, would numb all the hurt feelings I was having and had been having since I had returned home for this boy who had been clearly using me.

Five whiskey and cola’s later my next brilliant idea was to get up on stage, find the microphone, and declare very loudly how much I hated this boy and his ex-fiancée and all his stupid friends. I believe the majority of what came out of my mouth was hate-filled expletives towards these people.

My friends eventually rescued me off the stage and I convinced them in my charming, wide-eyed ways that I was sober enough to drive home. Even as I was getting behind the wheel of my car I knew what an absolutely irresponsible and reckless idea this was.

I pulled out of the parking lot and made sure that all of my attention was on safely driving. The speed limit was twenty-five MPH, and I absolutely was going no more than thirty MPH.

Within minutes there were blue lights in my rearview and I was being pulled over.
Digression: earlier in the day I had received a parking ticket from an officer right as I was getting back to my car.

A few hours later, I was pulled over by a state trooper for not having my seatbelt on.

And now, more blue lights.

This was clearly not my day.

As I pulled over and shut my engine off I quickly texted the friends who had been with me at the bar, “being pulled over. Think I’m going to jail.” I found a half-drunk chocolate milkshake and a half-drunk energy drink in my car that I downed as the officer was walking over to my car.

“Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”

“I don’t, Officer.”

“You were speeding.”

I guffawed. “I absolutely wasn’t. I was going thirty in a twenty-five.”

The officer looked nervously away. “No, ma’am, actually you were going thirty-two in a twenty-five and the folks in this neighborhood have been complaining about speeders.”

A few cars zoomed past us going forty or fifty MPH.

“This is fucking bullshit,” I said.

“Ma’am, have you been drinking?” He asked, leaning his head towards my car window.

“Yes. Yes I have.”

“Yeah, I could tell. You absolutely reek of vodka.”

“Really? Because that’s not what I was drinking tonight. So that’s interesting.”

“Did you eat anything tonight, ma’am?”

“Is that relevant, Officer?”

“I’m going to need you to step out of the car.”

Without having made eye contact with me since the beginning he stepped back as I opened my car door and followed him to the side of the road.

“If you could put your index finger to your nose, and then pull it away. Now put your other finger on your nose, and pull it away. Right, good, now stand on one foot. Stand on the other foot. Okay, now follow my finger with your eyes. Okay, good. In my professional opinion you’re at least at a 2.0 alcohol blood level,” the officer stated arrogantly.

“Are you kidding me right now?” I sneered at him.

“Excuse me?”

“2.0 alcohol blood level? Are you fucking new at this, son?”

He looked shell-shocked. “. . .excuse me?”

“You pulled me over for speeding. I was doing five over!”

“Seven over, ma’am. But then I realized you were drunk off vodka.”

“Whiskey, asshole. And then I came out here and did all your stupid fucking sobriety tests with FLYING COLORS, while people are speeding past us going at least twenty over. All the while you’ve never asked for my license, you’ve never asked for my registration, and you’ve never asked for my proof of insurance. And now you think, in your professional opinion, I’m at a 2.0?!? So, again, let me ask you: ARE YOU FUCKING NEW AT THIS?”

He glared at me.

I glared at him.

“I’m gonna let you go, ma’am. Please drive carefully,” he said, quickly shuffling off to his cruiser.

I got back into my car and cried the entire way home.

I absolutely should’ve been arrested for drunk driving on that September 12th, 2008 night.

Which would come to be known as The Worst Day of My Life. Or, that defining life-altering incident, that solitary experience that sent ripples through the rest of my life’s choices.

I gave up drinking altogether after that night.

I decided to get myself physically checked-out. I knew I wasn’t the only girl he was sleeping with, and I also knew I had made several bad choices myself over the summer regarding other boys, so I had my first physical check-up in years a few days after that horrible day to make sure that the damage I had done to my body since I had been home wasn’t irreversible.

I started working out and eating healthy again, something I had neglected as I put any and everything that was important to me or vital for my well-being on hold for the boy who had ruined me over the course of the year.

And most importantly, I stopped talking to said boy.

On the opposite hand, I ended up going on thirty first dates over the course of the autumn. I know now I was looking for a solution to the problem. The problem being boys. I desperately wanted to find something redeeming, something worthwhile in this gender that had done nothing but negatively bring me down and wreck my soul.

It was only first dates and toward the end of our night out I would let them know right then and there that there was no chance for a second date. I also let them know up front that physically there would be nothing from me – no kissing, no hooking up, nothing more than perhaps a friendly hug. How could there be anything more? At that point I was numb to the importance and serious relevance behind physical intimacy with someone you’re deeply connected to. I didn’t want to continue on the slippery-slope I had been on.

On the eve of my twenty-fourth birthday the boy who had haunted me all year came back out of the woodworks to wish me well. I ended up driving to his house. I ended up compromising all the work I had done on my physical, emotional, and psychological self over the course of the two months I hadn’t seen him. I ended up giving in.

And, as is human nature, he and I fell back into our twisted, empty physically-focused ways. Back to being comfortably numb, back to letting myself be used. But, the December holidays were now approaching, and I remembered the promise I had made to myself to move on from this heartbreak and get on with my life. It was time for me to let him go, to find myself again, and to recommit myself to me.

And so, before any of those gross feelings could take of residence in my skin again, he and I went our separate ways (after a few unkind words were spoken), and the next day I met the love of my life.

Fast forward to now: in my own pensive ways, I just celebrated the one year anniversary from that September 12th night and the fall-out from it.

I’ve never been drunk since. Just recently I started reintroducing wine into my world, but I can’t get through an entire glass before I grow disinterested and move on to something non-alcoholic.

Physically, I’m at my healthiest. I work out daily, I eat unbelievably healthy, I’ve eliminated unnecessary stress, and really have found what I need to do to maintain my wellness.

I never talked to that horrible boy again.

The love of my life broke up with me right before spring and I’ve given myself until the holidays in December to get over it. He ended up being the catalyst to helping me finding myself and recommitting myself to me. I feel good and at home in my skin, with my life choices, and with the direction I’m headed in, but I know the journey it took to get there and am thankful to him for encouraging me to stop watching my life from the sidelines and pushing me to dive headfirst into being involved with my own life.

Too many people aren’t actively involved in their lives.

And, finally, I’ve never dated again. After the last break-up, I decided to remove myself altogether from the social world of a twenty-something. I didn’t find anything in those thirty first dates last autumn that I didn’t already know all along, and that wasn’t reaffirmed with the dating of this last wonderful boy.

I’m not going to find me in other people. Other people aren’t going to make me happy. I need to make me happy. When I meet someone who I’m supposed to be with, and isn’t someone just marking time with a first date, then I’ll start dating again. For now, I’m happy in this solitary existence.

Maybe it’s me, but I’m a huge proponent of celebrating those defining and pivotal moments in our lives that affect us, that alter our every life choice thereafter, and that move us on to being the people we need to be. We don’t realize it when it’s happening, when a single event that might appear trivial or otherwise unimpressive on the surface to someone else, can turn out to be one of the most important moments in our lives despite how harrowing it might seem at the time.

Masochistic as it may seem, I comfortably celebrate the anniversary of The Worst Day of My Life, which, looking back I’m so thankful happened to me. And now that a year has passed and I know that I’ve survived it and have grown from it, it’s time for me to chalk it up to another life experience and move on.

So, I find joy in this one year anniversary of sobriety, of physical well-being, of a sound mind, and of a healed . . . well, healing until the holidays. . . heart.