All Right And

The pills, when dumped, from a glass, drying in windowlight, on the table, leave little whitish traces like geologic strata unburied in some exotic place. These are for imbalances, and your daughter sees a tightrope walker who hands out balloons on the way down. You eat an ice cream from a vendor who has more physical problems than you, but maybe not as many mental ones. It’s hard to say. The pills are vacating the seat of responsibility. They make you: calm, kind, balanced, and your toes monkey around the tightrope. They also make you: not you. One thing to be done is to talk to people who aren’t there and use a set of symbols to depict them on the dead skin of a once living thing. But when you do this, everyone will think the stories are all about you. You can use “you” not as a stylistic choice, but because the “I” doesn’t make sense anymore. The “I” is far away from you. So the pills, when flushed, down the toilet, reflecting moonlight, in the bathroom, spiral into pharmaceutical galaxies and medical-stellar nurseries that you’re now the creator of. There is life on the pills and the few seconds it takes to flush them down is enough for civilizations to rise and fall. You can read all the books you see and run till your shadow lies down behind you, shadowlegs moving to keep up, but more like writhing; convulsing; seizing. Monday will be it’s your responsibility. Tuesday will be you have a problem. Wednesday will be the middle of the week because a week has seven days in it. Your daughter will sit with you and cry with you on the floor, but her crying will be fake and she will laugh to see you laugh. Billions of years have elapsed to bring you your daughter, a human, sitting on the floor with you and laughing to see you laugh. On Thursday you will love life and everything in it. On Friday you will give yourself a sobriety test down tracks overgrown with weeds, where the antique trains are sometimes kept, next to the real thing, where the commuters pass, because their tracks need to be maintained, and when you hear the bells closing in you can imagine that just this once they’ll be coming for you. Saturday and Sunday will be when you see him. You will spend the other five days preparing for these two days. You will spend Saturday and Sunday in the bathroom, swiping through your feed as he swipes through his in another room. Silence can be a different kind of silence. In the silences you will be alone together. Words can be pills you connect when you give up swiping through your feed. Fifty milligram words can pile on the page where you sift through and choose the ones you want to take. Your life is your daughter peeking around the door, waiting to see if it’s crying time or angry time or what. There are many different times. So there are choices. You can see him Thursday, and Wednesday too. You can pick the flowers. There are so many flowers. And the flowers, when picked, in the sun, feet in a mud puddle, look like petaled bridges to the daughter that you have because she is yours, green stems and yellow petals, and the thorns sometimes, but the thorns are all right, and the mud puddle’s all right, and the sky’s all right, and you’re all right and


should too.

Change of side

The one thing support group never tells you about recovery is that you’ll come to a point where your shiny new normal life will bore you to tears. That you’ll crave the old pain and drama, the self-loathing, and are to fight these cravings. That the most unsexy part of healing (maintenance) is also the most vital.

Early on, the milestones will carry you.

Your life force will return with each pound you shed: a perfect inverse proportion. That untrustworthy brown line on the back of your neck will disappear. Your jeans will turn into parachute pants. You will regularly inform people that it’s hammer time. When people say you’re looking good, you’ll want to ask them if they really think so. You are to fight this craving. You’ll consider starting a blog about simple habit changes that’ll turn your life around. Later that week you’ll go over your daily calories. Weekly too. You will be a complete and total fraud and will have to start all over.

You’ll imagine what your coke-addled mom might say once you stop at the Center with parachute pants in hand, if she’ll apologize for calling you a fat fuck or what. Your support group will remind you that this is your journey, your achievement, and not hers. You’ll thank them but mutter under your breath anyway.

You will update social media with how much you’ve lost since last weigh-in, unless you’ve gained, and then you’ll post nothing. It’ll hit you that you’ve lost a whole person. That an entire human being has been removed from your body. You will try to tuck the extra skin into your jeans on bad days and pretend to be Stretch Armstrong on good ones. You’ll post a before and after picture. A friend will comment and say that yes, your taste in tee shirts really has changed. You will consider inflicting bodily harm on this person but will settle instead for making a veiled allusion to their just having been dumped. Your comment will receive some likes, the friend in question will shut up, and you’ll feel victorious for an hour or two. That night you’ll go five hundred calories over and make up for it next morning with an early run where you’ll puke up apple.

You will cry when you reach your goal weight. This is normal.

You’ll tolerate the forced congratulations in support group and try not to feel bitter, hurt. There will be nothing more to post. No updates to make. The compliments will trail off like a conversation that’s reached its logical end. You’ll still listen to the old motivational playlist sometimes but it’ll feel cloying, corny. You will refuse to play anything by MC Hammer. You’ll pack the parachute pants into the bottom of your closet.

A friend will recommend you read Infinite Jest. He’ll say it “holds the cure for what ails us as a society.” You’ll ignore the pretentiousness and give it a go. The book will meditate, among other things, on our culture’s tendency to glorify active protagonists, to see stasis as death. The author will counter that glorification by asserting that sometimes a good protagonist is one who is defined not by the good things he does, but by the bad things he doesn’t do.

You will cry when you finish the book. This is normal.

You will pore over every fan site, join forums, read over the fiction you wrote years back, before you gave it all up. You’ll start writing again, and will hide a little part of yourself in every story you create, like an elaborate literary scavenger hunt. You will read your old stories and laugh at how hard they’re trying, cringe at how pompous they are.

You will publish one story, then another, then another. You’ll fall into the old social media gratification habit and convince yourself that it’s okay to do this as long as you recognize it’s happening. You will sit down and write something about your weight loss. You’ll stop trying to be witty and just tell a fucking story already. You won’t know what the end should be.

At first this will make you feel like a shitty writer. This is normal.

You will tell yourself that maybe this is the point. That maybe the end is that there is no end. You will always be recovering, always cresting over the endless wave of addiction. You will say: this is okay. You will say: I’m allowed to be human. You will say: our lives always end mid-sentence, so maybe our stories