I was not an alcoholic, so going to AA was never going to be the answer. Lying, pretending that I had a debillitating addiction should have been seen as a cry for help, but instead was witnessed and judged as a bizarre and pathetic thing to do. Who would fake an addiction, they demanded to know. But I was there for the same reasons they were. My life was out of control. I didn’t know where to turn. I was on a downward spiral. If I didn’t have an addiction just then, one might creep up over the years. I was just heading things off at the pass.
After attending the twelve step meetings for several weeks, it became obvious that I did not belong. I didn’t have the same stories of hitting bottom that the other’s shared. I had never blacked out. I had never woken up in a strange place with an unknown person in my bed. I had never even tried drugs. I was simply not an alcoholic. I had all of the trajedy of an addictive life without the actual substance abuse. It was clear that I was at the wrong place, and if I wasn’t going to self discover that on my own, those around me were more than willing to help me figure it out.
I inhale deeply, taking hungry drags off of the white cigarette resting between my lilly peach fingers. The smoke rises up over my head and dances around the moonlight. The stars twinkle, dust particles in the warm night air shimmying all around. My steaming coffee cup sits in front of me on the metal table where I’m seated outside of a random coffee shop in a random town. My feet perch on the chair in front of me and the sounds of the solo guitarist waft through the air. I pray that he will look at me, that his big brown eyes will peer up under his shaggy fringe and lock with mine. I pray for a connection, that he will see me, that I will be validated, alive, proven to exist. He is lost in his music, gaze focused elsewhere, someplace where I am not.
I pull out my notebook, my pen. Light another cigarette. Think about life and god. The church. Dan of Christ. His soft leather jacket, his greasy black hair, his motorcycle and his bible. His face that never quite knew how to complete a smile. His eyes that saw straight through to my soul. The way that he would tilt my chin up so that he could study my mouth, my nose, my cheekbones, my ears, my joy.
He was terrifying and passionate and hopelessly broken but clinging to the hope of redemption through the everlasting love of a forgiving father, as he did not have one in the earthly world. He read me passages from the new testament, confessed his deepest heartbreaks, professed his desire to rescue me from all that we had known and barely survived. We were to start new lives together, blessed by the church, baptized by the holy spirit.
But then he was gone. And I was left holding the bible.