The girls and I leave for the club the next day. People are friendly and welcoming, but I’ve never felt I belong here and that is truer now. The Club is by definition a clique within a community of people who define themselves by the social circles they travel in. I’m the dalliance, that woman who can’t get her life right and now, the pill popper, the addict.
Standing alone in the middle of all these people, I close my eyes and breathe deep. I look down at my bag and begin leafing through it until I realize this is nothing more than the reflexive act of an addict. I ask the bartender for a bottle of water so I have something to hold, but then I feel self-conscious that it’s only water. I walk to get a better view of the pool, but the girls aren’t swimming and I feel self-conscious for ignoring the people around me to watch the pool. Everything I do to feel normal, to look normal, only makes me more aware of the fact that I’m not.
I’m an addict days out of rehab at a cocktail party, trying to look natural and trying not to drink.
Where is my husband? He’s late and he promised he’d be on time. I pull my phone out of my bag and call him, but it goes to voicemail. Damn him.
I dial Dina’s number, thinking that all I want is to be a mother. I’m so done with all the rest of this crap.
How are you? Where are you? Are you at the meet?
Is it okay?
My voice breaks, but I catch it.
I’m the addict at the party and I hate it.
Dina and I talk. Her voice is calm, reassuring, loving and she reminds me that swim meets are part of being a mom. I know this, but I’m so overwhelmed. She says it’ll be okay, I’m strong, my husband will be there, and the girls won’t hate me for leaving.
I back away from the metaphorical ledge and look up to see my husband.
I have to go, I tell Dina.
I walk up to my husband and tell him I need to leave. It’s too difficult being among so many people so soon after coming home. I’m angry and afraid he may cause a scene or that we’ll cause a scene. It’s obvious he’s angry, too, but there isn’t an argument.
We need a better way to manage how we treat each other, but I don’t know what that way is.
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