Early in my recovery, about two months in, I found myself living in a basement apartment. I was separated, only seeing my wife and young son once or so a week. I wasn’t working, and my days consisted of meetings, looking for work and trying not to drink. I was trying to settle into that apartment while trying to settle into a turbulent emotional life that was foreign to me. I lived on a perpetual roller coaster – one minute I wanted to hug everyone on the street, the next minute I wanted to strangle them. There were days I hated meetings, I hated the people in the meetings and I hated AA. I hated myself, and for where I had brought my life to. I hated me for me and sometimes wished I didn’t have to deal with me any more – sober or drunk. It was like living on a Mobius strip where I couldn’t live drinking and I couldn’t live without drinking – I existed on both sides of the coin. My outlook was optimistically bleak.
It was on one of those days that I was taking the bus to an early morning meeting. I sat on the left side, single seat, beside the big central window. The bus was about a block or two away from the station and was in queue to make a left turn. The line was long, so there was a few minutes wait. As I sat, I had this overwhelming, unexpected and astonishingly firm resolution that I would commit suicide at the subway station. The thought landed on me as if a pinata was batted down from above me. Suicide. I couldn’t think of my wife and that young boy – I was so self-absorbed in the pain of not being able to live the way I was, or thought I could, that ending my life in a horrific and absolute way only seemed fitting and logical. Needless to say, when I got to the station, something persuaded me from following through with it. “Coward,” I thought to myself.
The next day, I was on the same bus, going to the same subway station. I sat in the same seat, by the same big central window. The bus was in the same place, stopped and waiting to make that left turn. Outside that window was a bright blue sky, and a church. And about six feet from me was a casket being hoisted into the back of a hearse, family members wailing and flailing, smacking the palm of their hands with their fists, and children watching, blank faced. I looked directly at that casket. I pictured myself in it. I saw my wife’s face on one of the women curled up on the sidewalk, legs splayed out like a newborn foal, yellow heels on. I saw my son’s face planted on the little boy wearing a tie that was too tight and not knowing why he had to dress up nicely only to cry. Needless to say, when I got to the station, something persuaded me write about it. And then call my family.
About six months later, I was living back home. I was back in the big bed. I had done a lot of work in my recovery. I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I certainly was where I didn’t want to be. I had made some progress, and the mental obsession had been lifted. Alcohol wasn’t on the menu for me anymore, and hasn’t been since that time. I was on the mend, and my emotions had started to even out. I felt like I was almost normal, whatever that meant. My son was actually happy to see me. My wife wasn’t worried about me as much, and we started to live life in a new way, a real way. My chances of actually living a decent life was started to swell a bit. I had hope. I had something possible going for me, and I was starting to just be instead of running away from me. And around that time, I was on a bus going home. I sat in the same seat I always try and sit in – on the left side, by the big central window. It was snowy and overcast out, and the windows were caked with salt, grime and frost. I couldn’t see anything out those windows. The bus was waiting to make a left turn. And as we waited, I caught a movement on the window beside me. It was swift and deliberate. I watched it unfold, bemused. Someone had drawn a happy face. A simple happy face, looking at me. And just as the smile swoop of the face left the person’s finger, the bus was on it’s way out.
I watched this happy face, seemingly random in it’s time and place, and thought of where my alcoholism had once taken me, and where I had been taken to at that very point in time. Faith and love and God had taken me there. That window had cataloged me in two short scenes over many months. One had shown me the darkness that could come from light, and the next light that could come from darkness. I was shown that there are outcomes and choices and ways of being. I felt the power in both scenes. I felt The Power.
The window played host to the scene of me.