About six month ago, I told Kim I felt like I deserved whatever bad things happened to me. I was like a shamefaced child, facing the corner, waiting for the authoritarian parent to get home and dish out punishment. I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t want to look over my shoulder anymore, anticipating cosmic payback for the thousand wrongs I have committed.
I promise I’m not being cocky, but it’s time for amnesty.
Two life altering things happened to me this weekend: I went to the new Nordstrom at the Town Center and I went to church in a gutted Walmart. These two things may seem mutually exclusive, or mundane, but for me they represented another, important step in my recovery: the bare beginnings of a list of the things I deserve.
I have not allowed myself retail therapy for a long time. Don’t worry – I am not getting ready to tell you I decimated the Vince fall collection, and I feel great! In fact I didn’t buy anything. But the first real department store arrived in Jacksonville a few months ago (about the same time I was telling Kim about my comeuppance), and I have not even peeked in the windows. Saturday, I walked around the gorgeous, clean, spare space touching things. I sat in the shoe department chairs while Dee shopped for lingerie and sent texts. I took perfume samples and manhandled sunglasses (where in the world is Nordstrom’s security?).
The significance of the Nordstrom’s experience for me, was its normalness. I did not spend money compulsively, like I was on a field trip from the booby hatch. I did not pine and drool over the glut of merchandise. I did not even long for a glass of Chardonnay at the bistro. I was just a woman shopping at the mall on a Saturday. I deserve that.
When I walked into the gutted Walmart with Kim for church on Sunday, I was surprised. I was raised Catholic, and I am not used to a bandstand with electric guitars and a drum kit, where the alter should be. I am not used to a sound and lighting booth in the middle of a huge, darkened theater: with movie cameras trained on jumbotron video screens . I am not used to a palpable pre-sermon anticipation, roadies doing sound checks and ushers handing out programs like the prelude to an off-off Broadway play. .
I am not used to taking notes during a hilarious, brilliant, flawless sermon by a good ole boy in jeans, or being among a thousand people who believe so strongly they raise their uninhibited hands up, as if to touch the invisible hem of God. At the end of the service, the preacher said, “Whatever you have going on, whatever troubles – this is a family. A community. We may not solve every problem, but know this – you do not have to go through it alone.” I deserve that.
We alcoholics are a self-evaluating, self-effacing bunch. We’ve all done regrettable things. Alcoholism happens in stages, maybe recovery does too. At some point you’ve just got to say, “What’s done is done.I’ve atoned and I am better for this,” and then go shopping. Or go to church.
Because you deserve it.