Monday, July 19, 2010

Out of The Blue

When it comes, it comes in low and fast, like a stealth bomber.

It's a sunny, humid Saturday evening, and we're back out at the beach camp.    I dip my hands in the hot sudsy water and swipe the sponge across the brim of a big, blue plastic cup.

Rum drink.

The words roar through my head like an out-of-control freight train; there one second and gone the next.

I start to hum, and I realize I'm doing it because the words were so loud in my head I felt like my family in the next room could hear them.    Crazily, I think humming presents some semblance of normalcy, when of course the opposite is true.   

Rum drink.

I swipe an arm across my forehead, sudsy drops dribbling down my wrist.    My mind goes back to a different time in my life, when this blue cup was full of dark rum, guava juice and crackling ice cubes.  
It was my favorite cup for rum drinks, because of its size.   One drink was the equivalent of two or three.   

I remember coming back from a long, lazy day at the beach, suntanned, salty and relaxed.    My husband threw a couple of steaks on the grill, and as they sizzled away I prepared my specialty.

Rum drink.

The ache comes, deep in my belly, and spreads to my chest and arms.   Everything feels heavy, slow.  

God, I miss it so much.

The hole inside me yawns wide open and my mind probes it like a missing tooth.    It's 7pm, and by now I would have had one drink, probably starting on a second.   Not drunk, not sober.   Just a pleasant hum, as I sat with my husband and watched the sunset.   

The in-between time, when I could enjoy a drink or two like everyone else did.   Before all the bad stuff started, before the obsession set in.   

"You okay?" Steve asks, appearing at my side so suddenly I jump.

I realize I'm leaning heavily on the counter, my soapy hands hanging into the sink, and the water is still running.

I look up at him and force a smile.   "I'm fine," I say.   He waits a beat, looking at me quizzically.    "Really!  I'm fi-"   I stop and hang my head.   "I'm edgy,"  I whisper.   "I want a rum drink so badly I can taste it."

"What can I do?" he asks.    When I don't respond, he offers to take the kids up to the lighthouse.  He'll bring Greta's bike, he says, so they can practice riding around in the grass.

I nod, silently.   He ushers the kids out the door, plunking Greta's helmet on as they leave.    It sits crookedly on her head as she pedals away.

I rinse my hands and dry them slowly, waiting for the heaviness to pass.   Next door there is a loud whoop of laughter, and the clink of glasses.   

Rum drink.

I know what to do, but I don't feel like praying.   I don't want to surrender.   I don't want to talk about it.    I just want one damn rum drink, and if I can't have that I don't want anything.  

Sighing, I slip my feet into my beat-up sandals and make my way towards the lighthouse.    As I come around the corner, I see Steve has attached a rope to the bike and he's pulling Finn, who is sitting on the seat with his legs sticking straight out.    Finn throws his head back, laughing.   "Go Dadda!"  yells Greta.    

I stand and watch, an outsider.    The sadness hangs on me like a heavy shell.   

"MOMMA!    Look at me!"  Finn yells, and then hiccups loudly.    Greta doubles over with laughter.

After a bit, they make their way over to where I'm standing.    "Better yet?"  Steve asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Not yet," I admit.  "But I will be."

"Momma, will you pull me?"  asks Finn.

I start to say no, and stop myself.   "Okay," I reply.    My hands feel like they are moving through molasses as I reach for the rope.   I start to pull him, slowly putting one foot in front of the other.

"Faster, Momma!"  he yells, and I pick up the pace.   


I'm trotting now, Finn bouncing along behind me.   I feel ridiculous, but I start to giggle.    

"VRROOOOOM!"  Finn yells.

With every step I'm lighter, and I feel my heart soar, laughter bubbling from my throat. 

The sadness cracks open and drops away piece by piece, trampled underfoot.


  1. Oh, Ellie. Your honesty brings tears to my eyes and gives me strength for something that I'm holding onto right now and need to let go of. Letting go is hard. But YOU'RE amazing. XOXO Emily

  2. Good for you. And good for Steve. And good for sharing. And good for the laughter you found. It's all, it's all GREAT!

    (Pitch the blue plastic cups in a ritual fashion...)

    love to you all.

  3. It is hard sometimes. I actually don't miss it...because I just remember how disgusting I was in the end. But even though I don't want to drink, I still have those moments in which I think that maybe I can. Maybe I can just drink normally...and when that happens I get my ass to a meeting or I call my sponsor or another alcoholic. It scares me that I can still think it might be possible. thanks for sharing, your honesty will help many other alcoholics...including me :)

  4. Good for you for being strong! Just think, it wasn't all that long ago that your first reaction would have been to hide the problem. Not only did you recognize it, you told Steve, and he totally got your back. Go Team Ellie!

    I think you totally deserve a new blue cup, though. Toss the one with bad memories, and treat yourself to a special-just-for-Ellie cup. Go you!

  5. Way to go. You are strong.

  6. Oof. Take a sledge hammer to that blue cup! You are the shizz.

  7. This post is powerful.

  8. Oof. Take a sledge hammer to that blue cup! You are the shizz.

  9. Oh, Ellie. Your honesty brings tears to my eyes and gives me strength for something that I'm holding onto right now and need to let go of. Letting go is hard. But YOU'RE amazing. XOXO Emily