Today's photo is of my living space. It's not a bad-sized apartment. A little over 1200sf, 2bdrm/2bath, plus a 600sf patio that's all mine. We use it a lot.
A friend was over and left around 7:30. It was pretty cold and windy, by our standards. When I came back in from walking with her to her car, it felt so cozy and nice. Chicken roasting in the oven, clean laundry (now folded), two of my saddles and the Mister's tack for a presentation at my son's school tomorrow, the kids fighting in their bedroom...Ah, home.
I went out a few minutes ago to walk the dog. On my way in, I noticed how clean the common areas are, including dust-free baseboards and freshly painted walls and doors. The maintenance staff here is incredible. I feel really lucky. When I first moved in, I was very sick. Recovering from the effects of drinking a fifth a day for a year and a half. I didn't even acknowledge to myself how much it was until a couple of years ago, well into rehab.
There's a long story how it got to be that bad. I knew I needed help, but I didn't feel I had time to deal with it. I was already dealing with the divorce and selling our house. Anyway, as soon as my house sold, (and I was already in the apartment, but not unpacked yet) I ended up getting sick so I couldn't drink. So the DTs set in. By the time I got to my doctor (too weak and dizzy to drive, took a cab. Figured I'd be leaving in an ambulance. Pretty sure I was dying. I was right.) I was so messed up from the drinking, and then throwing up 24/7 for 7 days, that in the emergency room they told me they were shocked I was still alive. At the doctor's office my blood pressure was 50/80. I wouldn't have lasted another day. I did have pride though! I still managed to take a shower and put on clean clothes before I got in a cab and then literally staggered into the waiting room. They got me into the doctor right away. He promptly called an ambulance. That was my first time meeting him. He was a fabulous doctor. If I still had Kaiser, he'd still be my doctor.
Anyway, when I got out of the hospital, I couldn't walk without hanging onto walls. I took a cab home. (D got really mad at me when he found out, and asked why I hadn't called him. He knew I was there. I'd texted him. I honestly didn't think to call him. I've always been really used to just taking care of myself. I'm still pretty bad about asking for help.)
I started rehab two days later. And slowly recuperated. Going to rehab during the day (after dropping the kids at school) then coming home to rest. After a month, I only had to go for an hour a day, in the morning. I loved it. I got stronger and stronger. I could finally step up onto a curb during my second month, and as time went on I could climb stairs. No one would ever have known I'd been half-dead two months earlier.
I did well in rehab, but for some reason, once I started the final phase, I decided I could drink again. Just a drink here and there. Nope. Nope. Nope. If I drink, and I did try a few times, I'm back to a fifth a day in no time flat. Even when I don't want to drink. I didn't have insurance during the relapses, so rehab, or any medical intervention wasn't an easy option. The DTs set in really quickly, so I couldn't just stop drinking without risking death. It seemed to take forever to get the dosage right, to have enough in my system to stave off the DTs, while slowly reducing the amount. Finally! For the last time, I was able to stop altogether, and I haven't gone back.
I have, without a doubt, proven to myself that I'm an alcoholic. Those last days drinking, and the relapses, were frightening. I had no one to turn to. All I could do was take care of my kids and be present for them. That was all the energy I had. (I was working for most of it, but they turned out to be less than ethical. On the bright side, it did lead to this job, which, while not perfect, will lead to the next, and so on and so forth.)
During all this time, my apartment, while it might not be the fanciest one around, has been a haven. I feel like a princess in a palace sometimes. If anything breaks, it gets fixed right away, there are heated pools, and San Francisco Bay right outside, my dog and kids are happy here. I really love this apartment. It's seen me through some tough times. Some of my own making, some not. I can't stay here forever. I'll need a place for the kids to have some privacy from one another soon, but I really treasure these few years here.
When I took this photo, as I mentioned, I had just walked my friend to her car. Earlier in the day, right around sunset, she'd mentioned how much she liked my place. She owns a very nice big house. But she told me she loves coming to visit because it's always so comfortable and inviting. (She and most people mentioned that about my house too.) I hope everyone who walks in my door feels that way. I hope everyone feels the same sense of peace and refuge that I do. Because I always want the people I care about to feel that my home is their home. And I almost wasn't around to enjoy it or to share it. When I remember that, everything else seems a lot brighter.