Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
I have a bottle of alcohol in front of me. It’s vodka. Clean, clear, pure, cheap. I know how it will feel as it glides down my throat. I know how my head will turn off, my anxiety lessen, my senses numb to what has become all-unimportant in my life which is everything. There is only me and this need.
It is a seduction now. As much as I try to resist, the pull to this love is overpowering. It says to me, “I know what you need, baby. I know what will make you feel good inside.” I try to push it away, say no even though I scream yes, crave the voluptuous sensuality this drug offers.
It doesn’t matter that I’ll pass out on the sofa and wake up at 2 AM, needing more, unable to sleep because of it. It doesn’t matter that my mind will forget what is important, forget things I wanted to do, things I have done, names, tasks, desires, my own personality. It doesn’t matter that I’ll wake up remorseful but ready for more just to take the edge off. I don’t want to know what my insides look like after all this. That would be too much and I would have to abandon my love.
I don’t recognize myself anymore. I used to have a beautiful complexion, deep-set dark eyes, A charisma that drew people into conversation. My skin now is red and blotchy, my eyelids constantly swollen, I have deep-set circles and lines under my eyes. If a stranger engages me in conversation, I withdraw. The liquor-store owners know me by name, some giving me a confused and sympathetic look when I make my purchase.
But I don’t care. You have to care to want to quit. Besides, there’s that lovely voice that says it’s all going to be okay. Someday.
I take a sip straight from the plastic bottle, no need for a glass. It burns and warms and I feel the glow, the click, the strange numbing satisfaction return. I have lost and I have won at the same time. I have lost my inhibition, won my freedom, won my right to this feeling, this glow, this seduction.
I have lost my dignity, won another night of nothing. This is my right.
I don’t know when I turned the corner. I’d always been a partier, a happy drunk, binge drinking then stopping. Gradually my social drinking increased, but rarely to the point that I was unable to clean up my act, stay healthy and move on. Somewhere the voice of reason got lost in the shuffle to the voice of denial. “I can handle this. I’ll stop. Tomorrow.”
And tomorrow becomes another tomorrow becomes another one.
But maybe someday I can mean it.