Written 4 April 2012
I’ve done everything in my power to curb the thirst. They told me to come to a meeting, but they must not understand. This is my addiction. I must fight it on my own. If I rely on others, I no longer control my own destiny. I’d rather fail myself without witnesses than have someone fail me and add anger to the equation.
The vodka should be somewhere in the city’s sewer system by now. The rest of the whisky disappeared with my last binge. A week sober may not sound like much to you. You haven’t a clue. The first day was fine. The second was brutal. The third was impossible. But I made it through. Over the hump and never better. It’s been years since I’ve been sober for so long. Without Tony in my life, the temptation is so much less.
So why do I struggle? I’ve never been here before. With years of addiction behind me, I see why I started to drink. In that tunnel all my own, things are easier. No struggles, just satisfaction. Struggling with the idea that you are addicted? Lucky for you, there’s something for that. Now, standing here on this high ground, I see the path of destruction I left behind.
The rubble has amassed for years. I can see the hills that barely stick out from the rubble. Those were the moments I thought I could overcome. I can remember each one. I stayed above ground just long enough to gasp for air before being pulled back down. The small plots of land stick up above the ground like an endless string of islands. I cannot see the first one. I couldn’t even count them if I tried. How have I failed so many times? I remember enjoying the parties of my college years. I cannot, for the life of me, remember when this stopped be a hobby and started being a lifestyle.
Here, on this unstable ground, the thirst explodes within me. The distractions I promised myself are now worthless. Every thought directs me to the store at the end of the block. I recognize this beast inside me. I thought I had him slayed. How wrong I was. He simply laid in waiting. He let me experience my burst of hope knowing full well that he would recapture his throne. He simply had to wait until my guard was down. What a sick ploy. He knew that by giving me more hope than I’ve had in years, then ripping it away, he could retain and hold on to his thrown for years to come. I tasted victory but for a moment.
I find myself justifying every step I take. Even I know it is a lie. The beast feeds me lines. It’s supposed to make me feel better. By the time I realize what I’m doing, I will have already failed. As I put on my shoes, I hear myself say, “I’m not going to the store on the corner. I’m going for a walk.” When I turn towards the store, I hear myself say, “The best walking paths are this way.” As the store comes within my line of vision, I see a sign advertising Red Bull. I hear the beast speak for me, “I’m thirsty. That sounds good.” I recognize the thirst. I know full well that carbonation and caffeine will not curb it. It doesn’t matter. I’m not in control anymore. He is.
As I walk the aisles I know so well, the sole thought that has ruined my life enters my mind. “A little sip won’t hurt.” I grab the smallest whiskey and go straight to the checkout. As I walk home, the voice returns. “You’re thirsty. Why not take a drink.” I know that the moment the brown liquid touches my lips I will have to admit defeat. After my first gulp, however, I understand why I let the beast control me. Nothing feels better than this.
By the time I get back home, the bottle is empty. My week-long streak is already broken. I hear the voice thinking for me, “Why not go back for more. You’ve already broken your streak. You might as well make it worth it.” I feel myself slipping back under the control of the beast. I return to the store and leave with the biggest handle I can afford. As I walk home once again, I know the beast has reclaimed his throne. Like always, I hear a distressed voice that I don’t recognize whisper in the back of my mind. Behind the haze, it sounds only vaguely familiar.
“What have I done?”