When one door closes, another opens, at least that’s what they say. I think doors are opening and closing around us all the time and only intuition and experience decides which one we go through.
Sliding Doors was one of my favourite movies and not just because I was in love with Gwyneth Paltrow’s cropped haircut (I got one just like it).
I loved the idea of multiple fates being shaped by seemingly innocuous actions and that in one moment, the course of our lives could be changed forever.
I feel like I am living a life of sliding doors, after the seismic shift I experienced a little over four years ago. It happened in the blink of an eye, with an almost 29 year lead up. One of those defining moments I will never, ever forget for the clarity that bore into my soul like a laser cutting through steel.
It’s still pretty raw for me to write about, actually. I was physically sober at the time, and had been for a few weeks, but my hurtful actions weighed heavily upon me like a rock I felt I may never pry myself out from under. It seemed like a drink might just alleviate the pain of my reality.
How could I think such a thing after the havoc and hurt I’d reaped?
What the hell was happening to me?
They say rock bottom is a feeling, not a place, and I can vouch for that. Mine came for me in an inner city apartment with artwork on the walls and designer shoes in the closet.
Alone, sober, fretful, alone, ashamed. Money in the bank, a job, a car, friends, a family, a partner (just), alone.
A silent, booming voice.
“Cut the crap, Sarah, you need to do something serious about your drinking.” Not at all poetic.
I knew it to be the truth even though my own thoughts were of denial, defensiveness and quick fixes.
I moved to the computer, my hands directing me to the answers I needed. A modern-day self diagnosis assisted by Google, from the comfort of my own shame. I’d never uttered those words before, let alone typed them.
My screen asked me questions. I answered honestly. Honestly.
Yes (no buts).
What to do with the weight of a reality that felt like the beginning of the end?
Around the corner from my house, in the beautiful old monastery I had always wanted to visit. Apparently people like me met there every week to… I didn’t know. Just knew I needed to go.
Tonight. Tonight. Thankfully tonight, otherwise I might change my mind.
Just like that. The doors had slid open and I jumped through just in time for the carriage of fate to whisk me away in a quiet whoosh.
Today I live a life afforded to me by those sliding doors, and I know it. That’s not to say I don’t forget sometimes or that I am constantly aware of my narrow escape from the platform of misery and shame into the safe embrace of the recovery train.
I still struggle, with myself, mostly. My brain, my biology, my past, my human inability to see the bigger picture.
But sometimes, I am reminded. Of the time I’ve been gifted with, of my second chance. Of the life that waits for me on the platform should I choose to disembark.
It’s why I live the way I do. It’s why I constantly self-analyze, scanning myself for signs of derailment. Just because the doors slid once, doesn’t mean they won’t slide again.
A moment of truth doesn’t guarantee a lifetime of one. Sparks often fly like metal on metal as I test the boundaries of this new track I’m on. It stings a little, signalling to me to pull back on what I think I know and allow myself to be guided by more experienced drivers.
I’m gaining more faith in life’s complex patterns, and less in my own ideas about how it all works.
Because none of this was my idea.
Life spoke and I listened, but I don’t feel like there was ever a choice, not in that moment anyway.
When the doors slide, there is a knowing, inside. I’ve never known anything like I knew the truth of that moment, and I may never know anything like it again.
This is the point where I want to get all evangelical on yo’ ass as Eminem blares triumphantly in the background – “You only get one shot!”
But I don’t know if that’s true. We never know how many chances, if any, we get to escape the destructive course our life is headed in. Some people get a lot; some can’t seem to catch a break in the stream of incoming blows.
I just know I got one.
And I took it.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go.
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow,
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!
- Marshall Bruce Mathers III