Waking Up with a Steady Heartbeat.
I ‘came to’ with an uncomfortable feeling. My heart was pounding so fast like it might beat its way out of my chest. I rolled out of bed onto floor. That’s when I felt something bulging between my legs.
I froze. What on earth had I been doing? I stayed there next to the bed on my hands and knees, delaying the moment, biding my time until I had to feel my nether region and begin the impossible task of remembering what had happened.
I felt like I might regurgitate my heart. Puke it out onto the carpet.It sounded as loud as a drum as it banged inside my aching body. I swallowed, took a deep breath and reached down.
I was wearing knickers. Relief. But there was something in my knickers. It felt bulky, like a ball of yearn. My fingers clasped hold of the unidentified object and yanked it up into view.
There it was, a pair of men’s socks. Ribbed and blue, like work socks. They were balled, folded in on one another. I sniffed them. I don’t know why? They smelled of washing powder. I supposed that was a good thing?
I got up holding the strange garments in the palm of my hand, staring at them like you do a crystal ball.
Who did they belong to? And why were they shoved down the front on my pants?
I walked into the bedroom of my flatmate with the offending item on display.
‘Good morning! Any idea why I have a pair of men’s socks in my underwear?’
She laughed. ‘You bought someone back’ I heard you banging around in the kitchen. Has he gone?’
‘Did he put his socks in your knickers?’
‘I guess he did?’ I say looking confused.
I threw the socks at her and she batted them away with her hand. I laughed then I went back to bed.
I always laughed.
Laughed off my shame. It was easier than facing the truth.
I would like to say I went back to sleep, drifted back into my content coma where nothing could get me. But I didn’t. I lay there wondering who he was? Had he liked me? Why had he left without saying goodbye and more importantly, why had he put his socks in my knickers?
As small snippets, memories of him, entered my mind I curled up into a ball and felt my heart fill every part of me, pumping hard and fast.
It was Sunday. My least favourite day of the week. The day when my heart had to work hard and my mind was doing a double shift.
My illness and embarrassment was self-induced of course. A loss of physical and mental awareness due to over drinking. In those inebriated moments the line between madness and sanity was skewed; I did things, crazy things. I allowed strange men into my bed because I thought it was funny. I was too shit faced to make wise decisions and had to laugh off my behaviour because it was too outrageous to deal with.
I made out I was having fun during those memory lapses. But can you be having fun if you can’t remember it?
If someone asked me in that waking moment,
‘Did you have a good night?’
I would have rubbed my eyes and said,
‘Yeah it was brilliant. I can’t remember any of it so it must have been good’
Drink, fall over, shag, panic, repeat.
Sock in pants became a good story. No-one mentioned the fact that I probably had sex with someone that I couldn’t remember. I didn’t even think about it. I went to the chemist to get the morning after pill like I was popping out for milk.
Gosh, it makes me cringe as I write.
But that’s what booze did to me. Made me forget that I mattered.
Waking up every Sunday was a frightening experience back then. I didn’t know where I’d been or whom I had offended, or worse, who I’d shared a bed with.
My heart always told me what I had done was wrong. When I woke it told me I was alive, yes... but I felt like a dead man walking, an offender pacing slowly towards the electric chair where fear and anxiety was ready to pulsate through my body.
I hid it from everyone until I couldn’t anymore.
I’m 43 now. My promiscuous past is not who I am. I matter now. I don’t find inanimate objects down my trousers.
I wonder if it takes that long to mature. Did I have to binge drink for 28 years to realise that it wasn’t good for me?
Maybe I didn’t have a drink problem I was just immature, it’s a possibility for sure.
I was a silly girl thats grown into a mature woman. I've grown up. I understand myself. I know I don't have to play that role anymore.
It took those stories to make me who I am. I just wish I had mattered more, been the teller of these tales rather than the main character.
But hey, you live and you learn.
Today is Sunday. I didn’t ‘come to’. I was woken softly by a kind face and a hot coffee.
My heartbeat was steady. Slow.
Waking up with a steady heartbeat makes sobriety worthwhile.
My content heart tells me that I'm safe.
Being sober is hard. It’s isolating at times and I feel left out. I dont get invited places becuase my sobriety is too confronting for some.
But, I suck it up. I'm good at pretending to be ok, I've had years of practice, but, just because I’m happy that I’ve chosen this path doesn’t make the track easy to walk down. It’s bumpy, long, with unpredictable drop offs but that steady heart reminds me to keep walking.
It’s the beat I follow that leads me home.
A home where all the socks are stored neatly away in drawers.