via Daily Prompt: Craving
When I was fourteen, I mustered up the courage to ask my father why he drank so much. It was a quiet, sun lit Saturday afternoon in our bungalow on Park Avenue. My older brothers and sister were out of the house, my mother at the store, and dad was content to busy himself with menial tasks in the kitchen. Frank Sinatra swooned in the background from a boxy, (once white) radio, which sat on a narrow shelf.
Mindlessly, I mimicked my father and invented chores like shaking small rugs out in the backyard. I brought one back in to the sound of Dad humming along to “All My Tomorrows”, and I saw it as a chance to ask the question that plagued me for as long as I had thoughts. “Dad?” I called over to him matter -of- factly, “Why do people drink?” I played the moment right because he continued along humming as he set the forks next to the paper plates for dinner, showing no shock at this very personal, out of the blue inquiry.
“Well”, he mused and rattled off about tradition and social drinkers and then stunned me with the sincerity of what he said next.
“For me its the craving. I remember when I took my first drink with a bunch of buddies. I was fourteen and Jimmy Zachamy brought a bottle of his old man’s whiskey to a school football game. We all snuck down under the bleachers to try it. As soon as I put my lips on it and smelled it, I was hooked. I loved how it made me feel and I loved that taste.” When he said the last part – “that taste” – he was someplace else for one second. “If I don’t have it for a while, I crave it. When he was back in the present moment he quipped, “never, ever take that first drink.”
Thirty four years later, I have in the course of time, taken that first drink, but lucky for me I don’t crave it. My addiction is to feel loved. Twenty-six years into marriage, I crave it more than ever. In my teens, I concluded that Dad was making an excuse to drink, being overly dramatic about “that taste”, but now I know that while cravings can lay dormant, they never completely subside.
Open your eyes.
Last month, I walked out of the door of my marriage and stepped onto a path that ushered me into a complete paradigm shift; the world is different than I had once seen.
I’m full of chagrin and disbelief when I say it took me 28 years to leave a broken marriage, though I couldn’t recognize it for what it was, so I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know I should leave. The universe did, however and sent the catalyst when I finally had the courage to recognize it and respond.
The challenge in stepping out into an unknown is the ability to perceive that something larger-truth– is prompting you. The moment I had the revelation that there was something beyond a one sided relationship for me, the second I could picture myself in a different setting, I knew I could do it. And once I envisioned that, it was like a key turning in the ignition; a momentum was put in place that could not be stopped. That one choice has accelerated into a succession of sustaining events that have carried me- no road map necessary!
I want to tell this story for every person suffering in an unhealthy partnership, trapped by the limitations of their own imagination. When we can imagine the unseen, it amplifies our wits. What we know as reality broadens, and this begs to be acted upon.
What I know for sure is that details matter, and though we rarely understand the torrent that drown us from day to day, they are part of the distinctive design and purpose of each of our lives. When we recognize this, everything takes on new meaning. Getting older becomes more exciting because we can “connect the dots” and gain insight to our past. Ideas that once frightened us become realistic possibilities that give birth to growth and hope. God knows everyone needs more of those.
The bus I rode to school had a Mickey Mouse character painted on the front of it. I can still see the iconic face and the roaring yellow transport which screeched to a halt where I waited on the corner of Park Avenue every morning. I was nine then. Life felt like a chaotic ride on a merry-go-round; flashes of faces were either smiling at me, chattering, or chastising. They ushered me in this direction or that. It was and is quite a blur, but certain scenes are frozen in my memory like a paused video screen. One is the image of that gargantuan bus, looming at me as I stood before its belching doors, alone and vulnerable on my street corner against a backdrop of changing seasons. Another is a beehive of activity after arriving to school one morning in late spring. In my mind’s eye, the classroom is monochromatic; the only distinctive details are rows of colorless desks and a carpet where children gather around the teacher at the start of class.
A dozen or so students rush about; I’m guessing we were putting lunch boxes away. “Where’s Bobby?” Deanna Standring demanded. (She was the one that tricked me into showing my underwear to her on the bus.) Her inquiry was probably fueled into investigation by the tension in the air. Once on the carpet, the teacher went through her usual routine, but her sweetness was tinged with uncertain eyes and a guarded tone. She told us delicately that Bobby wasn’t in class today but was sure to be back on Monday.
Later that evening Debbie Cahill and I had a sleepover. Lying there in her second floor bedroom, we drifted in and out of ramblings in attempt to fight sleep. The open windows framed the tops of the trees that defined the woods across the street from her house. More vivid is the muffled melody to which we finally fell asleep that warm spring night. “Baaaaaah-bby……..Baah-by. Bobby?” A chorus of intermittent voices rang out. Tree limbs swayed violently in response like arms flagging some signal. This is the calm which lulled me to sleep that warm, spring night in 1977. I’d wake up the next day, naive, ignorant, playful, but Bobby never did.