At the beginning it is hard to contain your excitement. In fact for months leading up to the actual day it is all you can think about. You’ve been reading books and gathering as much information as you can online. The reading, the researching, it is just to pass the time until the actual date; the date you’ve been looking forward to for the last 6+ months. A couple of months ago you sat down with the calendar and figured it out. July 11th. Arbitrary, yet completely planned. This will be the day that you embark on the next journey of your life. The first few months are pure jubilation, could this be it? Did it really happen this easily? When you discover that the answer is no, not yet, you’re okay; you understand that it doesn’t always happen overnight.
You keep your trying a secret for now, although those that know you best don’t have to ask, they can sense it, they know, they give you a smirk when you pass up the glass of wine. They want to ask but most of them stay silent knowing you will talk when the timing is right. For the few that you know would harass you over your desire to stop drinking simply in preparation, you fake it. You fill the glass with juice and soda; you pull the waitress aside and ask for a cranberry and sprite. She brings it back and sets it in front of you, “cranberry vodka”, she says; and you’re spared the explanation to those that don’t agree with your tactics.
Around month four you start to tell your secret. You know most are assuming that you’ve already succeeded and are just waiting for the announcement. But there is no announcement and you’re starting to get frustrated with the progress, or, actually, lack of progress because in fact there has been none. In actuality you only ever had one chance, that first month; that would have been the only time it would have even been possible. You haven’t been given a second chance. You start talking because you feel like you need support. And like you knew, people are there to listen and they offer words that are meant to ease your pain, make you feel better. You are certain that their intentions are good because you’ve said all of these very same things to your friends that have struggled. What you never knew before is that these words don’t always help. In fact, sometimes they make it worse. So you stop talking. You don’t even talk to your husband because, lets face it, men and women are built differently. He is rational, you are emotional. You don’t understand each other.
By month seven you have learned to limit the conversation only to the technicalities, the results of the blood work, the doctor’s advice. You mention the pain and frustration but for the most part you put on a happy face. You smile and say that you know you are blessed, because you are, and you know everything is going to work out in the end, because it will. But without even realizing it the pain has manifested itself in your heart. You start to feel angry and bitter. But you keep the happy face on and you don’t admit to yourself just how bad it has become. You don’t admit that you are not okay. Before you know it the pain is causing you to say things and hurt the people you love most. You decide that it would be better to stay away from people all together. You start to dread social functions; you, the one that used to be the life of the party, the “wild one”. You hate being in public because you feel awkward and uncomfortable. You don’t even know who you are anymore. You used to live for group activities but now you are only comfortable in solitude; because it is there that you can break down. It happens in the car on the way home from work, it happens in the bathroom after taking a shower. These are the places that you can admit that your life feels like a big black hole. You fantasize about moving back to the city, about being anywhere but here. Maybe there you could find yourself again; because this surely isn’t you. You have no idea who this hopeless, pitiful person is or how she got into your body. But, by the time you emerge from the car or open the bathroom door you’ve replaced the tears with your happy face, the face you are supposed to wear. I mean look around, you have so much, how can you not feel happy with life? You need to be strong; no one likes a weak, emotional woman. So you trudge on and you push those feelings of destitute out of your mind. You only allow yourself to feel them in the car or in the bathroom, where on one can see.
You begin to realize that the only time you truly feel happy is at mass on Sunday morning. There you feel whole, complete. That feeling lasts for a couple of days, keeps you going. By Wednesday the weight on your chest is back. It hurts to breath. By Friday you can barely get yourself out of bed. But soon Sunday will be here, and then the cycle will begin again.
Edited to Add: After rereading this I'm afraid some may read it with a very angry undertone. I just want to clarify that that is not what I intended. What I wanted to portray was the very lonely, isolating feeling that this struggle has on so many. Also, please don't feel that because I said sometimes the words make things feel worse that that means we don't appreciate them. The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel alienated by saying this. Knowing we have friends and family that care means everything in the world.