The condition wasn't really rare at all; it was something that many of us suffer with. The human population struggles daily with different conditions including this condition that I speak of openly. There are those who hide their sickness of heart with smiles and play faces; but there are those who struggle openly with the problem making them look like raving lunatics. I guess I fall somewhere inbetween in the scope of things. I guess I am one of the few who develop others to fight the condition. I know how difficult my language must be to understand but it is the truth. This is how I deal with the pain of my heart. This is how I kill that which has infected me.
I always thought that to love was something great, something monumental in thinking and feeling but love is not all that simple nor is it so great. I find love to be the most complicated feeling in all of existence. When there is love eminating then there is none returning to me. But when there is no love eminating, then there is too much loved baraging me...driving me inward. It is never consistent and it is never reciprocated in its strenth and intensity. I hate love, actually. Love has caused more pain for me than a hot knife or a blinding blow to the head. I should know for I have experienced them both and woke reeling much less than when love wounded me.
So, how...how did I come to such a negative perception of this 'loveable' emotion?
I did nothing....nothing but stand there and watch him approach me. I did nothing but smile into his face and listen to his words. I did nothing but hold him in my arms and let his disease soak into me like moisturizer. I was open and inviting to love and I did not wage war with the substance.
"Hello" the stranger spoke to me in a soft but masculine voice. His smile seemed friendly enough and very genuine.
I smiled back at him and tilted my head because...that is just what I do when meeting someone and sizing them up. "Hello."
"My name is Stephen, I have an alcohol addiction." The man looked ashamed and dropped his face.
He was staring at his hands which wrung together like worms trying to get back under the earth. He exhaled deeply and then faced me once more. He pursed his lips.
I smiled bigger and then reached out my hand for a handshake. "My name is Cynthia, I also have an alcohol addiction."
Chuckling, I shifted in my seat and leaned in to see his face more clearly. "I think that none of us should be ashamed of what we are or what we have been through. It's okay, you are new here...it will get better."
Stephen seemed relieved and so he smiled again and reached into his pocket. "gum?" He handed me a small red packet of Big Red and flipped open the flap. I declined sweetly and turned to face the speaker that had just walked into the room. Before she started to speak, I turned to Stephen and noticed that he was looking at me. He smiled and put his packet of gum back into his pocket.
He never stopped looking at me until I said "What??"
He then told me that I was very beautiful and he turned away again. He didn't speak another word the rest of the session and then left through the side door with no more words. I didn't think much about it that day; but when Stephen missed the next three appointments, I assumed he had quit the AA group. But I knew that was just the way of it and so I didn't think much more beyond that.
A week later, Stephen came back and he looked pretty rough. I assumed that he had fallen off the wagon and he was coming back for help. I decided to walk up to him and welcome him back to the group.
"Hey there...how are you?" I spoke in a very cheerful voice. I even held a hand out for Stephen but he did not return the jesture. But he did speak back to me.
"Hey beautiful, I am okay...just...you know...I didn't do so well these past weeks." Stephen looked ashamed of his faltering. He dropped his head again and looked off to the side at some of the others in the room. "Something is very very wrong with me...that is what they say, anyhow."
I looked up and under at his face and offered him another genuine smile. So much smiling...surely it could help with something. "Stephen...it happens, you know. We all have our weaknesses...that is why we are here....right? Let me tell you something, an addiction can be many things...drugs, alcohol....people. It is called an addiction because of the fact that it digs its claws into you and pulls you, binds you to it and makes you something that you are not."
Stephen frowned and starred into my eyes. His eyes were beautiful but they were also very strange and intimidating. "I do not think that the addiction makes you into something that you are not, Cynthia. I think the addiction makes us what we really are and we are coming into being as the thing takes hold of us. I know my ideas are weird and strange but I see things in a different way. I think we are all such self destructive beings that our addictions are the vehicles in which we will annialate ourselves. Only when we are completely destroyed can the real ones be born beyond the addiction, inside the addiction....masters of our thinking...completely."
"oooooh...I see..." I noticed that I was backing away from him as if he was batshit crazy and so I stopped myself. " I just never saw it that way. I never saw it as an addiction at all when I was drinking. I saw it as an escape from reality...a way to forget about how screwed up my family was. I didn't think about the abuse, I didn't think about the neglect and I didn't feel those things at all for a moment.
"Exactly, my dear. You were destroying who you used to be and becoming something better...something invincible." Stephen laughed and then his eyes grew saddened. "I guess you must think I am a horrible person and you wonder why I am here...since, I believe differently than these people. Thing is...I was forced to come here...coerced maybe. If i don't show up...my ex wife...she gets my kid."
I was no longer impressed with Stephen and I wanted to walk away. I saw him differently suddenly....a dead beat father....no, a drunken father who never spent time with his children, neglected his probably sweet wife and someone who drowned his responsibilities in the bottle. He, all of a sudden, didnt' seem like the perfect guy with the nice eyes. I wanted an excuse to severe the aquaintance. "Well, Stephen...I have go and talk to a friend of mine in the back. She and I have some plans to make concrete for the weekend. I will talk to you later then, huh?"
Stephen nodded his head and looked away again. "yeah...I gotta go do something...uh, over here...talk to some guys...and stuff." He put his hands in his pockets and clicked his teeth together. "It was nice meeting you, Cynthia, I hope everything works out for ya." And then he walked away.
He came to some of the sessions and I wondered what it really meant to him. At first I pretended not to care so much because I didn't have to make a fake conversation to seem like I was being nice. I will be honest, it was never my thing to think beyond what I thought was morally right. In the past, I had seen those who shirked their responsibilities and it seemed that STephen was only attending his sessions to put on face. AFter all, he didn't believe any of the things that were said in the meetings...he told me so. AFter entertaining this thought for a while, my mind began to pick at the lesser known corners of my consiousness. Was I playing the devil's advocate now or was I just trying to be fair. I think the most appropriate cliche statement for this instance was the little quote about 'thinking outside the box or something...hell, I don't really know. I was just winging it. If Stephen was really shirking his responsibilities then why did he go to the trouble of coming to the meetings. Obviously he loved his kid because he did as his ex wife had requested. So what now...had he failed in his attempts to do the right thing? Was he drinking again?
After many sessions, I decided to speak with Stephen again and see if there was more than meets the eye to this stranger. Little did I know...I should have left well enough alone. But I didn't and I walked right up to him as the last speaker left the podium.
"Hey there..long time no speak to." I smiled down at him and thought about how tired I was getting of flashing a fake smile. This time, Stephen didn't smile.
"Aren't you getting a little tired of flashing that fake smile, Cynthia?" Stephen then flashed a genuine smile and offered for me to take the seat next to him which had recently been vacated. I sat down and wondered if I was going crazy considering the fact that he had just apparently read my mind.
"I am very tired, Stephen. I am tired of being fake and tired of struggling for control...actually, I am tired of flashing that fake smile." I pushed the tendril of auburn hair from my eyes and licked my lips. I had no more words though and so I sat there looking at my perfectly manicured toes in my sandals. I realized that not one thing was out of place...I was prim, propper and all put together. I was plastic. I felt so judgemental suddenly and so I turned to Stephen in hopes that he would read my soul again.
"Stephen, what am I thinking?"
He was caught off guard suddenly but rebounded nicely enough. His eyes dilated. With one of his thick rough hands, he patted my knee lovingly and let out a long tired breath. "You hate what you are...you always have. Right now, you do not feel real and you want to feel something...something incredible and real. You are so very tired of being fake...putting on faces for them." Stephen motioned toward the crowd in the AA hall. Some of them were talking loudly, laughing and it seemed that life was some wonderful thing. Some of them were sitting alone playing on phones and ipads. Some seats were empty, their inhabitants long gone back to their homes.
"They are oblivious to the end that is coming for them. They say they know..but they do not understand the whole of what is coming for them. They never knew and they will never ever know. When it happens, they will cry like babies and they will rage against the finality of the beast. But for now, they will pretend that in their little groups....they are safe from the monster. Little do they know..it is so close that it is already eating away at them...at us. You are not immune to this and neither am I...but you see it...you do not close your eyes to its finality.you have potential."
I didn't understand what he meant but I loved the lyrical quality of his voice. I loved the smooth lilt that made his words seem logical. I just listened and sometimes during the conversation, I lost the meaning of what he was saying but I knew....I knew in my heart...that something was happening to me. I did not see love then...I saw confusion. But it was already happening and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
So we drank again and we left them behind. The ones who said they sought to help us were now our enemies. Although we drank our poisons, we attended the meetings to make face for society and for Stephen's kid. On the rooftop of the Kennedy building, we sat for hours and discussed the universe and the scale of what we thought it was. He read my mind and answered every question that I kept sheltered in my soul. Each and every time he told me what I was thinking, I would get quiet and I would devour his words...his interrpretation of what I was feeling and what troubled me. Stephen would light up his cigar, run his fingers through his short black hair and then he would gaze into the starry sky. There in that dark and beautiful place something would fly down into his shell and animate him.
"You know what really confuses me...I mean, what really drives me beyond insane..as your 'norms' would call it?" Stephen let the smoke billow from his lips as he squinched his beautiful blue eyes. "If we are all the same thing...then why the fuck are so many of us so damned incompetent? I mean, do we have lame parts....is it a weak muscle in our body that will somehow betray us? YES! that is it...those who have not found their conciousness will betray us...much like judas betrayed the Christ...true?" Stephen then took another long draw from his cigar and looked at me. For a moment, Stephen appeared to be the child who hadn't found any eggs on Easter. He seemed wounded and betrayed by the older child that laughed and brandished his loot. "But, Cynthia...Judas was no fool. I think the ones who seem lame...maybe they are the best actors. Maybe they lie in wait for us to let our guards down so that they can steal the throne for themselves. Doesn't it frighten you to think that they may be smarter than we are? OH, dread the thought. We must plan for this!!! I tell you, we must sleep with one eye open!!!" Stephen would then jump from the ledge of the building and run across the roof brandishing his whiskey and taking huge swallows of his poison. His rantings grew louder as he drank even more. I sat nursing my bottle of wine as thought fought one another for the limelight. Just as they surfaced, Stephen would pluck them from my mind and create great stories of their substance. "Oh, and by the way...my dear Cynthia...I always found the most eggs on Easter...what a silly thought you had."
I was growing to love Stephen. Something was horribly wrong with him, he was broken and he was something that could never be explained. But one thing was certain...he had tapped into something that many others would never experience. I didn't understnad how he read my thoughts but one thing was certain...There was nothing I could hide from him.