Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Beauty of Molly Kate Pryor

Part of our senior year requirements and a tradition at my high school, Girls Preparatory School, is to prepare and deliver a speech to the entire student body, faculty, family and friends. Called "Chapel Talks," they are delivered during Chapel (assembly), and as many people who could pile on the stage next to you would as a team of support and love. You could include a performance if you wanted to, and lots of girls sang, danced, or acted with friends. Always terrifying, but fun, they usually dealt with understanding the impending graduation and changes about to happen in our lives, including leaving Chattanooga and each other. I found a book of Chapel Talks from my class, the Class of 1999, and decided to share Molly's. It is so special, and unfortunately, so timely, as we are again preparing to lose each other. As I said in my last post, Molly Kate Pryor is gravely ill. She lost sight of her beauty and spirit and if she dies, I am going to miss her everyday for the rest of my life. I can't dance as you do, Molly, but I can offer all my love to you, and remember you for all the beauty you help me possess. 

Molly Pryor’s Chapel Talk, GPS 11/13/98

I’d like to dedicate this talk to my parents who have sacrificed a lot so that I could stand here today.

Sometimes when you look at something just right you see the true nature of it. Like standing on roof tops, looking out into the city and realizing that you and the people around you have meshed into one amazing unit or when you are driving around with the windows down, sun-kissed and smiling, and you realize how beautiful your “gang” is. It’s a fleeting moment and you never want to forget the light in which you now see things. In these things I realize the innate beauty people possess. The beauty of the people who surround me every day amazes me. Their beauty is separate from all the outside influences. I can see her beauty in the way she dances, her’s in her writing, her’s in her art, but mostly I find it in the simple gestures of their faces that show a glimpse of the pure indescribable emotion beneath the surface of their mind and heart. Holding onto this vision of beauty is never easy. One day it is the most obvious thing that confronts my eyes, but sometimes the routine of everyday fools me into thinking I don’t care about the beauty that surrounds me. Sometimes every action seems fake, and I forget which part is the real part. I cannot delineate between the everyday outward appearance and the beauty I know is there within. They cannot see their beauty and sometimes I can’t see it either. I have to be reminded and watch from a separate perspective to see all that is there. So much of the beauty around us goes unappreciated. My gratitude to the people around me will never be enough to truly do them justice for all they do. Be sure that the people that you love know how much you love them and don’t let yourself forget it either. The time is coming when you will be separated from all of this. Don’t take it for granted. My separation from the people I love grows closer everyday and it’s hard for me to think about life separate from these people. But I know I can leave and they can leave and we can both always come back. They are my sanctuary and my rest. And for all of this I would like to dance as an offering to You. I Love You…

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Old Familiar Friend

It's January 25, and I'm 24 days into a sober month. The only alcohol I've had in the last 24 days was a small shot of a Greek liqueur at my friend Katy Mena's mother's funeral. We all toasted to Vicky to help ease her passing into the next world. I don't regret it, and I don't think it counts as cheating.

It's been hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. I didn't realize how much I rely on a glass of wine or a beer at the end of long day to help me wind down. Or a whiskey on the rocks to help me have a better time when I'm out with my friends. Or several more to stumble home and have sloppy sex with my boyfriend. It's not like I was wasted all the time, but it started to feel like too much. Like I couldn't just go a night without having a drink, or two maybe, to relax. There is always a happy hour somewhere in New York, and I am usually always available for boozy brunch. No better way to chase a hangover than to wash it out with a Bloody Mary and bottomless Mimosas.

It started as just a casual statement to myself. I think I want to quit drinking for the entire month of January. Then I said it aloud to some people and they said, I think I like that idea. Then more friends agreed, and here we are, almost to the end. There are days that I've wanted to get completely shitfaced in some weird effort to make up for lost time. Yet, the only time I lost is when I was shitfaced. Or hungover. Or in the middle of a seizure the next day because I abused my brain chemistry by drowning it in alcohol.

For years I have watched my Dad struggle to be what people jokingly refer to as a "functional alcoholic," and I try not to let this need overtake me like it has him. Or worse, like it is doing to my friend Molly right now. My Dad is almost 60, and while it scares me to think that he may one day drink himself to death, Molly is already there. She is 33 years-old, and may not make it through the night. As her friend, I have seen her turn from the smartest, loving and loyal woman I know to a shell of herself - a hard-hearted, self-destructive, deceiving person that I am scared of. She has become such a different person that I feared losing her friendship forever if I confronted her about her alcoholism. So I didn't. I let my need for Molly to be alright, and the need to justify my own desire to continue on my own path without judgment, stop me from telling her that I was worried about her. That I thought she needed help. That I didn't want her to die.

It maybe too late now to tell her those things. She is in the ICU on a ventilator struggling to keep her organs working. Her liver failed, and now her kidneys are failing too. She is swollen and yellow, and now I believe she is the one who is scared. I've been talking to a lot of our friends over the last two days, and every conversation we have ends with, "I love you." We are all trying to hope for the best, but I'm not sure what the best is anymore.

I am heartbroken standing in this middle ground, and trying to sort through the twisted clarity my break from alcohol has brought. It has called attention to my need, even in this most inappropriate time and place, to want to drink. I want to drink just to take the edge off feeling so helpless and sad. I want to drink so that the reality of Molly's situation is less, well, real. I want to drink so that I won't be as frustrated with my boyfriend for trying to be helpful. I want to drink just because I do.

I find these confrontations confusing. I hope that I am a person who can control myself, but when it comes to alcohol, maybe it is not that simple. What will it be like when I get back to my normal routine and "allow" myself to drink again? Is it even a wise choice to ever go back? I am struggling to find solace in my old familiar friendly state of mind, and I hope to keep that wary understanding for as long as I can. I don't want to ever depend on alcohol to make me feel like a better version of myself. I want to see drinking as a fun thing I want to do, not a fun thing I have to do.

For now, I'm going to be grateful that I am able to stop for the month of January; I'm going to continue to understand my relationship with alcohol; and I'm going to pray for my friend.