“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” – Proverbs 26:11
Looking back, I believe that my outlook changes so suddenly because I had a form of mental breakdown on the way back home, after attempting to chase the bus. My brain wasn’t capable of accepting the truth and so it created its own truth. It would be years before I realized just how easily our minds can do this. At the time, however, I thought that I was better off and in the short-term I was at least able to look past my current issues and attempt to make sense of my life.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just my ex that I quit caring about. It was anything and everything that I had ever found enjoyment in and especially anything that I didn’t especially want to do. One of the first things that I did was quit my job. The second thing I did was sell all of my video games and equipment. I would sit, alone, looking at the walls in my apartment for long periods of time. I would eat once every couple of days, and with what money I did have, I spent on alcohol. It’s not that this was the way I planned to live but shortly after waking up I would see a bottle, pick it up, sit down in a chair and not do anything else.
My family was especially worried and my brother spent a few days with me just to make sure that I wasn’t suicidal. Even as bad as things were, I had no plans of offing myself. In reality, I don’t even think I could have come up with the motivation to attempt anything of the sort. This went on for nearly two weeks until one of my neighbors knocked and asked if I wanted to hang out with them for the day. I acquiesced, even though the thought of spending time with another human being was dreadful at best for me at the time.
After a few hours of conversation I found that I did feel somewhat better and so this became my normal routine. Get up, drink, go to my friend’s apartment, hang out for a couple of hours, go home, drink some more, and then go to sleep. It wasn’t much of an existence but at least it was somewhat better than drinking alone all day looking at the walls.
Even before I had quit my last job, we had been badly behind on bills. At around the third week, the electricity was cut off, and at four weeks, the water was shut off as well. In order to get by I would fill large jugs from my friend’s house and would only eat when something was offered to me. I think the longest I went without food was around 4 days. Anyway, it wasn’t very long after the water was shut off that my landlord informed me that I had a week to vacate the premises. Having really no place else to turn I called my parents and asked if I could stay with them for a few days until I found somewhere else to stay.
If I could pinpoint the most humiliating moment of my life, it was when I moved back home. It was not something that I had ever planned on doing, having moved out at 18 I thought I was ahead of those who were forced to live with their parents well into their twenties, but having lost everything else I went back home. On of the things that bothered me the most about moving home is that I knew I was going to have to quit drinking. My mother and father are complete prohibitionists when it comes to alcohol and I knew that if they even assumed I had drunk anything, I would be back out on the street.
So I quit drinking, at least for the short-term and moved home. My parents had an old camper in their backyard which they allowed me to move into. This at least gave me some sense of privacy but the nights were unbearably cold. Even with the space heater on full blast, the temperature barely escaped the 40’s, inside the camper, during the cold Iowa winter. Even so, the small amount of privacy, and the time to get my thoughts together was therapeutic. After a few days I began to feel almost human again.
I lived in the camper for about a week, when one bright cold morning I heard my father banging loudly on the outside wall of the camper. I hadn’t slept well the night before and had gotten to sleep around 3 in the morning. I remember thinking, as I opened the door, this had better be important. Before the door was completely opened the words that my father was screaming became clear in my mind.
“GET UP, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!”
Upon opening the door, the smell of smoke was thick in the air. I saw a cloud of black smoke pouring from the roof and heard the distant sound of firetrucks heading our direction. Everyone made it out of the house fine, but the house was totaled. A mouse or squirrel had bitten through a wire in the attic and started the fire going, luckily a neighbor had been awake and called the fire department just after the fire started. My father’s radio went off and he was quite astounded to find they were sending trucks to our house. He nearly called and told them it was a false alarm, but upon second thought he walked outside to check and that’s around the same time he ran to wake me.
We spent the next two nights at my grandmother’s house. I slept in the same room which my wife and I had slept only a year earlier. I remembered how good it had felt to be back in Iowa and how hopeful I had been for our future. A deep depression swept over me and the need to escape was great. If we had spent any more time there I might have lost my mind but instead we were allowed to move into another home in the same town as the one which had just burned.
In this new home there were enough bedrooms for me to stay in the house and so I did. I had a small room but I made it my own and I began to once again feel better about my situation. I got online one day and found an e-mail from an old high school friend. He lived in Des Moines and was looking for a roommate. This was the key to my independence. I called him up and moved in with him a few days later.
To continue reading, find part 10 here.