Ever since I got sober, my life has become a never ending series of rituals. It’s pretty funny considering that I have always been known as spontaneous. Dangerously impulsive.
Growing up I used to watch my dad and his patterns. Waking at exactly 6:32 with no second alarm. He always got up the first time. He woke up my brother and me at 6:38 and was in and out of the shower by 7:10. Breakfast was ready by 7:30, and by 7:37 he walked out the door. No earlier, no later. His obsession with time was baffling to me. Why the rush?
When I would forget my lunch or not make it out until 7:40, I knew the cold stare that was waiting for me when i opened the car door. I’ll never forget that look. I knew the rules, I knew the schedule. Somehow, by wasting those three precious minutes, I had betrayed him. How dare I come between him and his rituals?
It wasn’t until years later i learned he is an alcoholic too, and now I wish I had been only a bit more tolerant.
On an artsy whim, my dad bought three identical clocks and hung them on his bedroom wall, one above the other. I figured he would set one with the local time, and set the other two with times from different cities. You know, one for Tokyo, one for London, and one normal. Nope, not my dad. He set them all to the same time. I watched him go nuts as time passed and inevitably one of the clocks would fall slightly out of sync. Tick half a second too soon. Weeks passed before he took the batteries out.
You can see now why I saw him as trapped; bound by the minutes of the day.
When you are powerless to an intimate object, you start to wonder, what can you really control? Your whole life becomes about proving that you have power over things. People. Or in my dad’s case, time.
So now that I find solace in my routines, I finally know what it is all about.
Every day I stand under the shower head while sipping a glass of hot lemon water. Soaked and steaming, I hop out and pour one pill from four different bottles into the palm of my hand. I sit on the toilet and stare at them, before throwing them into the back of my throat and washing them down with the last two sips from my black mug.
It is in the smallest of actions that we find therapy.