I arrived with a bottle of wine after our fight. We’d fought about his drinking and our relationship. Again. This time was different though. I was done with blaming the booze.

Dear Lover & Booze:

I’m sorry. I was an ass.

I blamed you both and didn’t even look at myself once.

I was blue ink bleeding all over the white cotton. I ran in and on and all over what I meant to touch and tend to. Before I realized I’d exploded I was leaving stained fingerprints everywhere. I spiled, spoiled and stained.

Plus, I put a megaphone to every one of my fears and blasted them into your years. I didn’t ask if you had time or space to hold or listen.

I was not gentle. I didn’t open, bend or mend.

I clinked my metal spoon against the lip of your teacup and chipped and then cracked it unitl it spilled. The weight of my disappointment was hammer hard. I approached your edge with aggression while you were sipping boiling hot water.

I was as clumsy as a fervent Labrador’s huge tail wagging only it wasn’t my exuberance I was wagging but arrogance as I wagged a pointing finger.

I aim to do no harm, do no damage and to recover well. I strive to be as hardy as the Hosta which rebounds even after it’s trampled.

Where was my care, caution, and reason? Where was the wise owl of my soul who can so far in all directions? Instead of gathering perspective I collected arrows and practicing shooting insults.

My tongue is tart with regret all the years later. Instead of tiptoeing on the tundra at our feet, the tender buds and roots beginning to sprawl out, I ripped at weeds and stomped down. I said I was only trying to plant and preserve and protect.

No wilted under those conditions.

I am not the mountain that can shake off decades of being gouged at the base as iceberg climbs down her spine and towards the sea and can become fertile and forgiving again?

Can I forgive nature, mine and yours and remember the tender hues of blue in the majestic sky that held us both captive for a short moment?

Can a heart start fresh and get a do-different and a try again?

I long for so much and for so much to be different.

I recoiled from the nakedness of raw intimacy. I demanded money back guarantees on your heart which was I did not own or purchase.

I forgot I was a guest in your heart. I forget you were a guest and mine and I had the right to invite you out but not to clean, steam, and rearange your furnitue and belongings.

It’s not the leaving or the ending I regret. It’s not the fear or doubt. There was reason for both and that was always clear to us both.

But I wasn’t honest.

I wasn’t honest, how I forgot I was a visitor, a guest in your heart and that is what startles me most even now. I went in to steam clean all your belongings, move around the furniture so soon after the door had opened to welcome me. I neglected my own house to go to you.

I forgot I was a guest in your heart but even worse I forgot you were a guest a mine. A guest I could invite in or out, but that me was not a place that tending to was ever optional. I lost myself while commanding, demanding or challenging you and acted as though it was booze that did that to me.

The gift of wine was an opening, a way to say it’s a first date with no presuming I know what’s best for you. Also, it was also a surrender to truth and transparency. You drank. You drink. I knew. I know. What happens if we just live with the truth? What happens if I didn’t say what liquid or loyalty you should crave or be filled and quenched by? What happens if we drink from the glasses we have here right now?

I asked new questions of myself, to myself, for myself.

“Can I live with this, us, him and me if nothing changes?”

“What if a mythical, sober and stable future never comes?”

“Do I like who and how I am and am showing up as a mother, lover, writer, human?”

It was me who had to stop… stop asking or tracking what you drank, what you spent in money or time and why. What if I wasn’t the motor in the washing machine on spin cycle anymore? What if I stopped jamming every dirty towel I saw into one wash, one load and one machine as that would clean it all when instead it burdened the machine so much it got off balance. And broken. And didn’t even clean the damn towels.

Reality is sober.

Reality is clear.

Reality is filling.

I just had to start with stopping. I stopped rushing over in crisis to fix or solve or clean or reprimand. I stopped being so available, so responsive, and so quick to bail you out of problems or jail. I left the dishes on the counter. I left the wet clothes dried. I realized I’d not been as generous with love but with judgment, arrogance, and ire.

I stopped pretending it didn’t feel terrible to both of us.

I didn’t issue more threats to walk out if there was even one more incident.

I made peace with choices, debts and realized I could only give what I had to offer, spare and could risk sharing and losing.

Turns out, I wasn’t willing to risk it all.

It was my own lights I had to turn on, my own counters I had to clear. It was my own buds I had to tend. My yellow center was fading and I’d not been faithful to my self. You were a guest in my heart, too. I let you overstay. I gave keys and invitations once, sincerely. But when the doors closed and I had to change the locks I realized I’d been too open but not honest enough.

I gave myself away. And so, in a way, the wine was also a way of saying, “You do you because I’ve got me to worry about.” I didn’t mean it as a judgment or an insult. I realized I had made booze the thing that was wrong and that bottle between was innocent. It’s what we each did with that bottle, or didn’t, that made us.

I had to worry about my own sober reality and stock the closets with towels and blankets. I needed to stock and savor and plant myself in the heart and home I was responsible for.

You gave me back to myself and I am grateful. You helped me see how many times I had gone into the ring to fight addiction. I did it with my first lover and even my own father. They both fought the bottle. I fought the ring.

They had a disease that made it so they could not have “just one” and I get that. When I go into the heart of another to find home, it’s round I always lose. The only home I’m not a guest in is my own and it’s finally where I live.