Balancing on a tightrope 

When I was 16 there were a lot of things I thought I’d know better when I was 34- like French, and wildflowers, and how to make my hair look nice. But I don’t even know the wildflowers in my yard, or how to order a sandwich in French, or how to make my hair look better than bad.

Gloomy Wednesday. I started out on autozone with a meeting at child protective services for Dakota’s tuition. They agreed to a year of daycare for three days a week to cover current school schedule and just requested I either get my “separated” husband working or on child support in six months. It was a hard day and Charley was mad when I told his dad he “doesn’t do anything” to help me financially. He felt like I was a monster again and it rained and he threatened to leave and I simultaneously felt anger and fear. 

Then he told me to drop him off at a Mexican restaurant and he came back with a job as a dishwasher. He worked and tried to drive the new car home but rats are the light wires so he walked and a skunk sprayed him.

“Maybe it’s karma,” I said.

“For what?”

“For being mean to me.”

“Maybe that thing on your car’s karma, for being mean to me.”

“Hmm.”

I had a scratch on the Volkswagen loaner I was driving for a few days while my car was fixed in Santa Fe. I drove it to Bandelier to hike through 700 year old Anasazi ruins with Dakota, and we hid in an old dwelling on the top of a hill of ruins during a heavy thunderstorm. 


That’s why I figured it was divine intervention- a spirit from the past- following me back to Taos and wreaking havoc on my mean husband. And maybe on me too because now I had scraped the front of the loaner vehicle driving out of Charley’s mechanic’s steep driveway, and I had a headache. And Charley was sprayed by a skunk and the whole house smelled like a deadly poison so I guess it wasn’t karma as much as Anasazi mischief.

The day before I drove to Santa Fe and Bandelier I sold my wedding rings. I’d bought them myself for about $1000 altogether and they were diamond but the diamond expert said they had “flaws” and would only pay $130. And I accepted. I bought milk, dog food and diapers.


An article I read said there are three main steps to breaking the cycle of codependency (driving in the middle of the night looking for my husband, wondering where he is or what he’s doing, checking my phone and Facebook 500 times) and finding the road to recovery for myself (and hopefully also my other half but not always). 

In Spanish the other half is your media naranja aka. half orange. It’s the other half that makes the whole. Without it there’s just the unfinished self. It’s Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. It’s the origin of love. And the road to recovery is being the other half for yourself and maybe your other half will follow and in turn find his other half and together, two wholes, you will be happy as fuck? Even if human beings were once round, two-faced, four-armed, and four-legged beings, and the angry gods split all of them in two, leaving the separated people with a lifelong yearning for their other half, my god, the yearning will not be quenched with a night of cocaine and fireball.

So last night Charley was at his brother’s snorting coke and playing video games and this morning is went to Williams Lake with Freyja and Dakota because fuck it if I’m going to sit at home anymore and let Charley dictate what I feel, think, do. This is the first step to my own recovery. Making plans with myself. Keeping them regardless. 


It was a day between yesterday’s sunshine and tomorrow’s thunderstorms. That means it was overcast and delightfully gloomy like a Billie Holiday song. Two miles of rocks and roots, straight up from the Taos Ski Valley, through pines and juniper and aspen. Williams Lake on the lap of Wheeler Peak, surrounded by mountain wildflowers and vibrant green meadows. 

Hikers from Scotland and Texas and California all stopped to admire my beaming daughter in the black baby backpack, and the mini Aussie with the furry bear face and stub tail.


I was a mix of thoughts. “This is heaven.” “I’m so lucky.” “I hate him.” “What’s his problem?” “Should I just accept it and live a mediocre life?” Loser.” “Look at those flowers. Fucking beautiful.”

I often feel like I’m balancing on this tightrope with enlightenment on one side and insanity on the other. Reading about Elon Musk and his twins and triplets and two marriages and Tesla and SpaceX and I can’t fathom how he does it or how people do anything all this working all the time and paying bills and making relationships happen. Wow.

Tommy and Charley came back at 10 pm. Charley was looking for his dead uncle’s favorite song- Van Halen’s “Jump”. It reminds me of my uncle. We all have our nostalgic soft spots.

We keep bickering like old couples, fighting like romantic teenagers and then getting along like best friends. And then something insane happens, and I detach and look at my life like a bad book to take back to the library and never open again. 

I feel like I’m living two lives. I always wanted to live two lives, as an FBI or CIA agent or ninja, but this isn’t the fantasy. A stranger has told me more than once I was unassuming like a ninja. No. I feel totally dull and cliche now with my problems. One of these two lives I’m living is to post adorable pictures of Charley and Dakota on Facebook. We are happy. We are adorable. The other life is finding out Charley found my alcohol I hid so strategically and drank my hidden wine and beer again- all of it, a box of wine and six pack- in one night. Then he lied about it for two days. Then I hid in the bathroom to drink one untouched bottle of Lavender rose. Is this my life now? I want a glass every other day and I’m binge drinking a bottle so I can drink it by myself? Why did I marry an alcoholic? Why did I marry an alcoholic? Why did I marry an alcoholic? 


I ask myself this every single day.

When I was a kid I had to go to AA. My dad was supposedly a recovering alcoholic though I never saw a drop of alcohol in the house. If I didn’t go to a million meetings listening to alcoholics “Hi I’m ___ and I’m a recovering alcoholic”  tell a story about a DUI or a death or a near-death or domestic abuse or organ failure then I guess I wouldn’t have know what alcohol was. It wasn’t the sidra and magical nights I had abroad dancing in Spain in college. It wasn’t the DUI and breathalyzer I got in grad school. It was just this unknown , mystical substance that made everyone crazy and remorseful and blunt. Everyone smoked cigarettes and recounted their rock bottoms. That was alcohol. I grew up with a recovered alcoholic father who still needed to control and place his stamp on everything. I grew up with a frustrated, overeating mother. I was never EVER going to be with someone like that. All this self-help and recovery. What a waste of time. What a weakness. 


And then I married an alcoholic. I want some help. Some therapy. Some circle of like minds I can share my grumbles with without feeling ashamed and stupid. I don’t feel like Wonder Woman even when I will it anymore. I took Dakota to the movie and I willed it. I was still this sad mommy. What am I going to do next?

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