This time it has to work, she thought. I can't keep going through this. Each time I invite it back into my life, it wrecks everything, and...oh, my god.
Rivka sat up in astonishment just as that last thought sunk in. It was the first time she blamed "it" and not herself. In times past, she'd routinely blame herself, her tolerance, her lack of control, the occasion, her comrades. But something changed, something clicked. "It" really was at fault because Riv wouldn't have done or said half of the things she did over the years without it.
She wouldn't have driven home on nights she shouldn't have, wouldn't have eaten everything in sight—doubled over in pain on the days that followed, wouldn't have been party to idle gossip, wouldn't need to ask anyone if she'd embarrassed herself in any way, wouldn't have slept with strangers, wouldn't have called in at work, wouldn't feel ashamed. In short, when "it" wasn't present, she had little cause for concern.
I'm not the problem, she thought. Because without "it", all the other shit doesn't happen.
But what does that mean for folks who're told they are the problem? That they have character defects? That they have an addiction problem? Whatever happened to choice, free will? Is choice not even a factor because the issue is that there's something deep inside ourselves working against us? one implanted at birth?
No, that can't be right.
If we're made in a Higher Power's image (insert chosen entity here), doesn't that mean we're cut from love's cloth? If love reigns supreme, and we are created (by an all-knowing force, Divinity, Universal Intelligence, God, or evolution—take your pick) from pure love, then why have we these grotesque character flaws making us do and say things in direct opposition to love? Aside from the ridiculous and age-old excuse of Adamic sin, for Pete's sake why would we exist with intentional flaws?
There was no answer Riv could come to that would make any sense. All she knew was that when she had tried to quit in the past, she'd make it a few months—and one time a little over a year—but there was always some external influence reeling her back into the trap. A celebration, a stressful day, an impromptu get-together, happy hours, boredom, loneliness.The loneliness was the worst because when she partook, it got worse, not better. That bottle had not kept her company like she'd told herself it had, and there were plenty of times she'd convinced herself it did just that.
"Just have one. You can have just one, can't you?" some would ask.
No, no I really can't, she'd think while shaking her head. She always felt less than when she'd revealed she couldn't "just have one", and those were the moments she felt there was something wrong with her and not it.
"I've seen you have just one before, though," some would reply.
Riv would stare past them and say, "You've seen that, yes. What you don't see is what where I stop on my way home, what you don't see are the spiraling thoughts I have to contend with surrounding that poison."
"Yes, poison. Let's call a spade a spade."
These conversations would invariably dead-end. Folks who could get by on very little or completely go without didn't understand that it would only be a matter of time before they eventually slid down that slippery slope. Like Riv had, unknowingly, unintentionally. One was never enough.
For Rivka, "just one" could easily—and typically had—become more, and more was never enough. Even when she'd coached herself before dinner or an event, "just one" always became at least three, and again—it was never enough. The times she gave in all alone were always her worst moments—the sadness worsened, the loneliness doubled, and she no longer recognized herself or that sweet child she carried within. It was the child she kept returning to. Would Riv, if greeted by her inner child, pass along an open bottle and say, "Drink"? Of course not. So, why do that to herself now?
When Riv opened up, talking to others who'd been having the same experiences, she realized there wasn't anything wrong with them, either. They weren't flawed, weren't predisposed addicts, weren't inclined to be ne'er-do-wells, revealed in full when they imbibed. No, they were also innocent and wide-eyed children at their core—looking to return to simpler times. And no one in their right mind would dare tell any child they were flawed addicts in the making, giving them libations freely at a tender age.
The way Riv saw it, the system was rigged with dollar signs in view. Millions of folks had been duped just like her. The good news is that it is a choice to stop the cycle of madness; it is a decision, one made by cutting off all other possibilities. And Rivka chose to stop now and run toward the days of her youth before it was too late; she chose her inner child. She chose love.