by DD Porush
Relapse as a road block. A party you can’t get into. An afterthought; overthought way too late. It’s the same song for everyone I used to think. It all had to do with not thinking or not caring at all. The correlation between girlfriends as addicts and girlfriends who were sober was zero until I finally met one and then the score was one-to-one. Not that anyone but me was ever keeping score. I don’t really think I am qualified to talk about relapsing in first person because I never considered myself an addict.
That was the wrong move. I was thinking about things all wrong. I was thinking about addiction as something you go to meetings about. Drugs, Food, Booze, Sex: I like to do ______ more than I should and it is really affecting my life negatively in the following ways: _______ _______ .
I should have realized that in fact things like being an insomniac, like having panic attacks, or a diagnosed yet medically untreated condition wherein black-out manic spirals kept me out of work, school, life etc. were all crippling in the way drug addiction or eating disorders are. Because I am not who I am without my neurosis. And that is the underlined portion. The one you should mark in highlighter, or dog-ear, or write down on a piece of paper somewhere. You cannot be who you are with out all the things that make you who you are.
New Years Eve, 2012. I was in Paris in a loft somewhere in the seedy 10th. It was a full eight-course meal served to a close 50 of us. The literati of Paris were there- not the Sorbonne Literati or the real French litearati, rather the lost generation literati. Writers who held onto something that no longer existed and so diffused their talents into other talents that they hoped were more meaningful. So it was actresses and street artists, professors and ex-pats. There was something romantic about it all, nothing that will resonate the way it did with Sylvia Beach’s lost generation. Though there was a girl there who had been named after her. We were smoking cigarettes and pulling bottles of real champagne from the bathtub. We were dancing and eating foie gras. If it sounds like a Hollywood version of New Years Eve in Paris, that’s alright- it just was what it was.
I met a girl who was electric (as you do at these kinds of parties). She was wearing a ball-gown from the 1920’s and sneakers and had just come in from London where she is a Reiki master and yoga teacher. She is the type of girl I hoped I would grow up to be, but now that I am in my late 20’s I am okay with the fact that I won’t
ever come close. She was smoking as much as everyone else, but not drinking. We started talking about shadows and about ghostly encounters and finally about energy. She explained something I knew and had witnessed many times over in my life. The yin and the yang, the light and the dark. Not a biblical battle of good vs. evil, rather and esoteric compromise between them. She explained,
“The thing people forget is that there is only so much of us physically and spiritually. Specifically dealing with energy. It is like a natural resource in that way. I can have so much light energy and only a little dark but that constant can contract.”
She was smoking and looking dead at me. I remember adjusting my dress as if to cover up my dark-meter, the internal glow in me that revealed how dark I could or couldn’t be. “When I befriend someone with more dark energy than light, I have to realize that they are siphoning light energy from me and in return I am taking on their dark energy. Whether I choose to give this person access to my yang is my choice as it exists entirely within me.” Whether she said this as a cautionary tale aimed at me or just a bizarrely perfect anecdote, I am unsure. It was so powerful an image, and so relatable to everything that has happened in the last ten years of my life. This fluctuation of my lightness and my darkness. How no matter how dark I felt, there was always an oasis of light hidden amongst the shadows waiting to be dredged forth by either a lighter, subconscious me, or a lighter being offering me gifts of her light. In the end, the two were synonymous, as often is the myth of a guardian angel. Though perhaps this new friend (who I will never see again) was in fact the bearer of this gift of light knowledge.
What exactly was it about this totally ridiculous moment in time that opened my eyes just then to this concept? The answer is probably related to champagne and politically incorrect pâté, but it was the gong of truth I had been seeking. If this was a stupid Hollywood movie then queue the flashback montage depicting every negative person in my life at the point in which I can’t take it anymore.
[I present in lieu of a dramatic, drunken, horribly self-destructive montage a piece of oft-referenced classical art to stand in as an objéct in my biography of light-chasing.]
Henry Fusilli “The Nightmare”
Put aside your images of me self-destructing alongside others, because it was a long time ago now and I am a person who has done everything in her limited power to change. I am daylight and herbal gardens and I am sometimes a panic attack or too much to drink but mostly I am okay. I’ve burned the proverbial sage, and salted the proverbial doorways.
That is the best part of a relapse cycle; the okay part. The part where you gain control of the light and learn to tame the dark. You whisper acknowledgment on the nights you are close to being not okay and you knock your chest with your fist in mourning and say, “I know you. You are in me. You are everywhere and I carry you with me and that gives me power.” You know that darkness is there to brighten the light. So with every person you meet you give them less and less of your light. You say, “it’s okay to have this for myself,” and instead of gifting the dark people your light, you gift them the power of seeing their own light. It’s how we heal each other.
The girl at the party said that it feels ancient, this power. It feels like magic and righteousness and something old like ritual. And maybe it is the infinite ritual; the spiral of being not okay and then being okay again. The relapse into whatever makes you weak, and the powerful magic of climbing yourself out again.
I believe that more than anything, that we must have darkness to provide a meaning for light in our lives. And it is a contract between our soul and our mind to control that gauge of intake/output. Knowing that no matter what, there is always the same amount of us. The fluctuations of the yin and the yang can be controlled. We must relapse, just like we must get better. We must spend time in the dark, if only to know just how great the light can be.
The scariest part is the a priori. The moment before knowing. I thought I would lose a piece of myself the moment I gazed upon it: the thing that kept me unhappy and scared, but instead I realized I had been looking at the symbol the wrong way. It was not an intrinsic badness in me, or anyone around me, rather a deficit of light in very bright place.