When You Can’t Stand Your Own Reflection

Not so long ago, I was spending my time on a leaky blow-up bed, surrounded by overflowing ashtrays and empty bottles, in my small studio apartment. Sometimes I felt it was time to throw in the flag, that I had made a shift from human to animal. I had no peace, no calm, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. The end of the tunnel was the grave.

I would wonder out loud “why can’t I find peace” and “why won’t someone help me”, but those walls stood still and quiet. At one point I covered my mirror in sticky notes, ashamed of myself, like a low-rent vampire trying to avoid his own reflection. I would go days without experiencing sunlight. I would also go days without answering a call from family, friends, or bill collectors. I didn’t care about the heavy burden I was leaving them with.

My neighbors at that time were a father and son duo, living in the studio apartment adjacent to mine. They fought constantly, slamming each other into the walls, often nearly knocking my computer off my desk from the force. In a clearer state of mind I might have called the police, but in some twisted way I enjoyed their disgusting presence in my life. There was a friendly, family-owned corner market across the street, and I would often see the shoeless, leather jacket- and sweatpants-clad father stopping in to load up on beer, snacks, and cigarettes before their nightly fighting. I never judged them; I felt equally deplorable.

I now live in a beautiful apartment with my family, I help others for a living, I don’t drink or smoke. I train in Muay Thai, I have great strength, calm, and peace of mind. I made a decision to crawl out of my self-imposed grave. Now I have no tunnel, only light. I look proudly in the mirror every morning. I dance with my daughter. I’m forever grateful for this freedom. Those days in hell remind me that change truly does come from within.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol, check out this website. Support is crucial.

Be well.

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