Yesterday was pretty rough. My brain box sounded like a thousand scorching espresso machines auditioning for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Today I felt a wee less desperate. Just wee.
However, I also felt the all too familiar pang that peeks its head over the fence after a few days of successful sobriety: the “oh, I’m totally fine and never actually had a drinking problem” feeling. It’s the one in which you think you’ve smashed the hard reset button and suddenly your motherboard isn’t completely fried.
Wrong! That feeling is an adroit liar.
After lunch, as I contemplated my bus route home (no car, remember?), I knew I’d have a decent 40-50 minutes (depending on the route) to kill after work. This meant food… and… drink? Those lilting voices of reassurance cooed, “you’re all good, kiddo,” and I nearly convinced myself I’d have just the barest sliver of enough time to guzzle a martini, shovel a few salty snacks in my face, then shimmy home.
“You don’t have a problem. In fact, you’re perfectly normal. So just get a drink and shut the fuck up already.”
I rode the wave of flawed thinking and false feelings until I couldn’t stand my own bullshit anymore. So I got a turkey and pesto panini w/ a decaf Americano (what a combo!) from this bomb ass coffee shop across the parking lot at work. It was a fantastic dinner. Perfectly satisfying. Utterly delicious. My will feels stronger, and that’s pretty fucking awesome.
Day one of sobriety is officially in the can. I successfully circumnavigated Thanksgiving dinner without a single drop of booze infiltrating my face (despite wanting many, many drops). You know how it is: families can be excruciatingly difficult to endure when crowded, hot kitchens are involved. Something about the culinary chaos flings everyone to the far end of the tension scale. Wine helps. Gin helps, too. Many gin and tonics.
Frankly, despite instinctually (and intellectually) wanting to numb out via hard alcohol, I physically wasn’t feeling up to it. Having already been hungover from heavy, blackout drinking the night before, I needed a reprieve.
That brings me to Wednesday, 11/21/18. The last drinks. As far as concluding tales of alcohol-soaked, drunken debauchery go, it was a pretty mundane evening. I cooked dinner. But, maybe that’s how it has to be, sometimes; accumulated years of extreme, easily fatal nights and days culminating into one utterly ordinary instant. I work an 8-5 job, which, mercifully, let us leave early for the holiday. The moment I got home around 3:30, I made my first martini (Beefeater, pretty dry, very cold, no olive or twist to speak of). By 4pm, I was making my second drink and roasting vegetables (just some baby red potatoes, an onion, quite a few cloves of garlic tossed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, cumin, coriander, and paprika). By 5pm, I’d moved jauntily from martinis to old fashioned-s, using some Larceny bourbon I’d picked up a couple of days before. Good deal on Larceny at Stater Bros.: $21. By 6, I couldn’t be bothered to splash together bitters and simple syrup, so I drank it neat, as one does.
I woke up at 3 in the morning, in bed, lights on, laptop open. It was raining. The creepy thing about blacking out is waking up unable to recall a single moment during the two or three hours preceding your passing out. Creepier still is knowing you’ll never, EVER really know; those memories now nothing more than fistfuls of snow that have long since melted through your fingers.
That’s not to say you can’t try to put the pieces together. Read your text messages; open your browser; the dishes in the sink, are they washed? I tapped my MacBook awake to reveal I’d passed out watching a season 4 episode of Sex and the City. The one where Miranda’s mom dies. This must’ve drawn out the maudlin in me, because after a cursory glance at my text messages, it was apparent I’d tried to tell a couple of friends how much I hated November. My dad passed away a few years ago in November, and an ex of mine committed suicide two years ago, also November. When one of my friends wrote back that he liked this month, I wrote, “K, get back to me when the people you love start to die in Nov.”
I cringed myself to sleep after reading a few more texts. When I woke up in the morning, I looked like shit. Complete and total shit, stepped in and run over. I’ve gone from having the body of a healthy, dedicated runner, to looking like the gelatinous floating orbs of a lava lamp decided to make a person and wear clothes that don’t fit. My face was drawn, puffy, saggy. The bags under my eyes will soon be sponsoring podcasts.
It’s an odd thing, being a drunk: you alienate people, burn all the bridges, make the last few friends in your corner extremely uncomfortable. Booze will also betray your body and wear itself proudly on your face, in your eyes. And that’s the rub of it, when all that’s left after all that drinking is just you staring back at a stranger in the mirror.