On the bus, on my way home from vermont, a man sat down not far from me and asked if he could sit with me. The bus was fairly empty--every person had a two-seat row to themselves and several rows were vacant. The bus had been packed all night and several very uninhibited strangers had wedged their rumps and shoulders right into me and slept like lambs. Snoring, teeth-grinding, squirming, murmuring lambs. And I had been good. I strangled no one. I poked no one furtively with my knitting needles, only to pretend to be asleep when they woke, outraged and dimpled. One woman, in a bad wig, lovely scarf, and chemo-bloat, inspired my sympathy and I let her make me as uncomfortable as she needed to to get some sleep. Another was so obnoxiously free with taking up half of my seat that it became silly and fun to try to fall asleep between her grunting re-positionings. I had been looking forward to hours of small-town Virginia and empty seats through it all, and now this man (this slavering lady-killer, this depraved groper, my tired brain informed me) was very politely asking to sit next to me. I didn't know if he wanted a hand job or to talk about Jesus, or anything in between. All I knew was that he could. Not. Sit next to. Me. So I told him so. I told him I was exhausted and had been looking forward to sitting alone and sleeping. I told him that I'd be glad to sit next to him and talk later, when I didn't have a seat to myself anyway. I told him I was sorry and I hoped he found someone to talk to. Then I laid down in the seat and slept for several hours.
I hit a slump between my two- and three-month milestones in A.A. I was chugging right along, doing okay and even going up to strangers and acquaintances in meetings and just talking to them and telling them the truth about things they asked me about. I even went out for dinner or coffee with a few people. Then my birthday, then various things, and I started living too much in my head, living for daydreams and fantasies, ignoring the reality I needed to be paying attention to, letting the crazy lady in my brain talk to me, and things got so so so hard. Grace of G-d, I didn't drink, or even really want to. Someday I'll tell you how Tweeker Jeezus took care of me in jail and taught me to pray and took that away from me. But I was tempted to go back to that wretched old way of thinking, and hole up in my head and be that sad, lonely girl again forever and ever and not let anybody help. Just for a few days, or maybe a week and a half, but it was discouraging. It's crazy to think I could have forgotten in such a short time how boring and miserable being that person is, but it really did surprise me to find myself back in it. It was so dreary and ridiculous, and real and scary, and I couldn't think how to stop it. So I told somebody how it felt, and when they acted concerned and tried to help, I responded as best I could and tried not to push them away. Then I told somebody else, and tried to respond to them. I tried to think what I was doing before that I had forgotten to do, and found some things, so I started doing them again. Like reading my A.A. literature and going to meetings even if I don't want to, even if I'm scared and awkward. Like telling the truth and asking for help, even if I have to literally choke the words out, or tell on myself, or make myself vulnerable to people I don't know very well. Like not trying to protect the people that love me so much from the negative aspects of my life. And it worked. I feel better. Not fixed, and not healed, but safer and more loved, and much less dreary and discouraged.