A few months ago my sister called me with some bad news. She said that she…
Dear the flailing intoxicated girl I used to be,
I’m writing this from a place of peace, although I don’t feel peaceful when I think of you. You don’t even know the meaning of the word. Peace is a lost dream you have not found yet, not even when you sleep. I wish I could tell you that, last night, I had no dreams of violence. I did not dream of being chased. Nor did I have to run or hide from anyone. I felt no fear. I simply drifted off into a world of calm, a world you feel so far away from.
When I woke it was 5.20am and I was tired, but happy. I know you try really hard at the being happy thing. That’s why you medicate with ecstasy; forcing happiness with tiny parcels of crushed up crystals wrapped in Rizlas because you don’t know how to find it without. You tell yourself that this is the only way you know how. It is the easiest way and you own it like you’ve just discovered the meaning of life. You tell yourself it’s a foolproof oxymoronic escapism because it’s the only thing you’ve found that simultaneously elevates and suppresses your broken disposition. Nowadays, I’m not sure you would believe that I am happy even before I have eaten breakfast. You only eat breakfast so you can take more pills. Sometimes you take them without eating. But you found that eating gives you a nicer high and that is why you remember to eat.
You also may not believe that I workout now. Regularly. Not because I have the urge to run around the block after taking too much speed – or was it cocaine (probably both)? But because I have a routine and a membership to a fitness class. When you weren’t high, most of your days were spent laying down from exhaustion or jittering and pacing from paranoid anxiety; a cycle that could only be broken by drinking drugs (because we forget that alcohol is a drug) or swallowing drugs. Nowadays my happiness and sadness sit comfortably beside one another; they both look different now. Smaller and more manageable. You wouldn’t recognise them.
If I told you now that you were addicted to drugs you would tell me that I was wrong. You would tell me that you are just having fun. That you are choosing this life and you don’t understand why everyone else isn’t doing it too. Everyone else is blind and you and your friends are the only people ‘awake’ to the world; the rest of us disillusioned and imprisoned. You would tell me that you are free. I would tell you that you are chained to a substance and a lifestyle that gives you a false sense of connection and the bravado of a million men. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I need to tell you that you are about to make some quite crafty convoluted mistakes that will haunt you for years to come.
I have to applaud you, really. Only you could lose two managerial jobs in the space of one year, get pregnant twice within a year and be hospitalised more times than you have fingers. I keep these stories alive in my head because I want to be reminded to never be you again. I turned off the news some years ago because I thought that it was tarnishing my psyche but little did I know I was creating the same fear mongering stories in my own mind. Stories of you in my past that I am yet to let go of. I have spent months shut inside the radio of my mind listening to the same old script of last year’s news even though time is passing by outside of me. I have remained glued to a station that no longer serves me or tells the story of the truth of who I am now.
The moment I realised I would never go back to boozing and using was the moment I realised I could make horrible mistakes sober too. I used to hate you for the mistakes you made but I also make mistakes and sometimes I hate myself too. I guess it is laced in the fabric of my being to be a fuck up. I guess that is because I am human. I am human and messy and incredibly flawed. I am learning to understand that that is okay. But there is a huge difference between knowing something intellectually and feeling it emotionally.
Younger Emily, you are operating as best you can with the tools you have right now. I can’t change the course of events or stop you from the tragedies that are about to occur. I can only tell you that my tool box is bigger now. That’s because of you and everything you taught me. In fact, I have grown quite the collection of tool boxes that I am proud of. You’re probably wondering how, but you will see in time. I cannot wait.
I have carefully curated my life away from the need to numb the natural flow of my states of being, away from the need to be loved by absent, childish men, away from paralysing night terrors that make me scared to be alone even for 5 minutes, away from forcing myself to throw up even when I see blood. Away from shaky stale cigarette fingers and using my library card to carve adult icing sugar into mini white lines. Away from hospitals and nightshifts and sweaty strangers in my bed.
I have curated my life in order to be wiser than you are now but what you don’t understand is that I need you to lead me here. I am still you. I am still messy. I am still flailing between intense emotions. I am still caught up in the complexities of other people’s problems. I am still drunk, tired, sweaty, confused, stubborn, picky, clumsy, nervous, lazy. I still shit, for fucks sake. I am still evolving and I will keep evolving. You are nodding as you read this because you agree. You are nodding as you read this because you are me.
I think what I’m trying to say is… I forgive you. So let us raise a toast (of lemonade), to you with your drunken mistakes and me with my sober ones, to changing personalities, complex emotions and the nuance of the human experience.
Peace and love, Emily (you).