I stood in my roommates closet, leaning back against the clothes, causing hangers to sway and creak like an old staircase. I was clutching the neck of an emerald bottle, labeled as cheaply as it’s contents tasted on my lips.
I didn’t spend my teen years drinking in basements, so at 21 years old, the sensation of “buzz” was new and interesting. I liked the way my brain fuzzed over a bit, and how every comment was slightly more humorous.
So how I found myself in a closet, drinking straight from a wine bottle?
I wanted to feel the sensations of drunkedness without the notice of my friends. It seemed less sinful somehow, to arrive at pleasure without the scrutiny of others. I had spent 20 years believing drinking was immoral; a conclusion arrived at through the southern baptist church, and the fact my parents house had not seen a drop of alcohol outside the medicine cabinet.
Drinking alone in a closet, is only one incident of many which has led me to uncover a very odd behavior in myself — I have a habit of being sneaky.
Sneakiness is a byproduct of guilt. I have lived much of life under the false impression —
The only consequence for my actions is how much approval I have, or do not have.
For example, as a teenager, sex seemed more dangerous (immoral) than gossip, because sex could lead to pregnancy, which you could not hide.
I am shamefully addicted to approval, to being known under the genre I feel most convicted of at the time. In the instance with the bottle, it was under the umbrella of conservative righteousness. Which I seemed to understand must be shown through not drinking, smoking, cussing, having sex etc.
When I would babysit, I practiced the principles of Leave No Trace. I wanted to be seen as Nanny Poppins who read books and was never hungry. I would only eat nuggets that could go unnoticed, or one pickle if the jar had two dozen. I would have been a great spy.
As soon as the kids were in bed, I would watch Disney Channel movies until I heard the garage door open. Quickly, I would hide wrappers under napkins in the trash, pick up a copy of The Giver and sprawl out on the couch.
Recently a friend placed his hands on my shoulders and said, “You have a desire to be known.”
This is true, and like most things, is both good and bad.
I do want to be seen, approved of, but whatever the cost. I will give up the truth if it means being approved of, wanted. This can only work for a little while, until my roommate walks in and finds wine bottles in her laundry hamper.
I was house sitting for some friends recently, and I found myself slipping into the habits of Leave No Trace Krisi. Setting the bathtub curtain to just the right angle, placing pillows equidistant from one another, and other odd habits.
At one point I had a pop tart, the last one in the box, a big step for me. I proceeded to take the cellophane wrapper, ball it up and dunk it deep into the bowels of the garbage can. As my hand was two inches deep, I paused and thought, “what the hell am I doing?”
At which point I yanked my hand out, and placed the crinkled wrapper delicately on top, for all to see.
I’d say this is a very small step, but one all the same. I am growing up.
How about you, what odds habits are you overcoming?