Day -31 | Good and Hammered Every Night | How ‘Bout a Heaping Bowl of Bowties with Meat Sauce and 1/2 Cup Parmesan
I’m eyeballing what’s left in the bottle. It’s freezer-frosty, numbs my hand to hold it. Some people can narrow in on the number of jellybeans in a jar; I can guess how many ounces of vodka there are in a 1.75L bottle.
I begin the painful debate, the epic saga. Last bottle. I swear.
Just who am I swearing to?
It can’t be myself. My integrity to an employer and friends is upstanding. Integrity targeted to my person is shit.
Despite…the vital discovery I made just days ago.
I was knocked thunderstruck, wonderstruck and awestruck when reading alcoholism is a well-documented pathological reaction to unresolved grief.
I recalled the instant the page got torn down the middle, creating an indelible scar in my heart—like the horror of watching the towers implode on 9/11 and learning the Boston Marathon Bombers, precariously fleeing for their lives, are firing guns and taking shelter in a backyard a short distance from our own yard.
The discovery had gone like this—seen through a stream of consciousness writing at the end of essay—that got at the root of the thousands of words that came before it:
The impact of loss scars the heart and you go on living your life ’cause you’re young and have to conform and can’t fall apart and you don’t realize those wounds are still there, throbbing raw, the fibers of tissue meshing over that open gap of mess. You don’t realize you mask that pain with the alcohol thirty fucking years later, that there’s a reason why you drink until the TV and the stand it rests on becomes unhinged. You write and write and write. For seven years, straight, you do nothing but write and you’re told your writing has no depth or meaning. You keep writing because you’re still madly and blindly driven to it despite having lost all your assets and pockets are filled with nothing but dust and lint. You’re there writing, looking up the definition of a word online, fact checking, and you read alcoholism is a well-documented pathological reaction to unresolved grief and glance down at the billionth line you just put in black and white and Jesus, the whole goddamn story comes clear.
I lost a boy I couldn’t imagine being without.
My mother had banished him from my side as I lie beneath a beam of stark light, my insides pulverized into hamburger, my heart gone haywire and pumping blood through the holes, my cradle shattered, broken glass in my ass. First my mother told me to breathe when I knew not to and then in the same breath said, he did this to you, now end it. She saved me, then saved herself, rectifying the trauma of nearly losing me.
She did it in the name of love.
The booze, all this time, has acted as a catalyst to anesthetize the pain of loss.
But what about the ripple effect of learning about the unresolved grief?
Grief, identified, brings closure, no?
Makes me whole again?
Nope. The grief may be realized, but it’s far from being resolved.
I was crushed when it first happened—my mother sending my boyfriend away because he had been the one behind the wheel during the wreck—now, I’m plain pissed off.
My beloved, potentially fatally wounded, an arrow cast through his heart and his big brown doe eyes burdened with darkness, sought counseling years ago. That’s why when I last saw him, his heart was open and light shown in his eyes.
He had worked out the grief—the loss of me—and moved on.
Whole again, he didn’t need the crutch of substance abuse [actually, he grew and smoked weed for years—before the counseling].
It’s back to the idea of getting my ass to Faulkner, right?
I can’t go.
Not because of Husband. He’s on board with it again.
Not because I’ll have to shell out a bunch of dough for someone to care for the dog.
Or, have to turn my phone off.
Or, leave my Mac behind.
I can’t go through with the detox while living here.
With Ted and Sue.
Not because they won’t be supportive.
It’s because, chances are, I’ll return home a failure, carrying a loaded Duro Heavyweight Brown Paper Bag in the crook of my arm.
Detox was just a trial, you see. A fleeting becoming. A communal gathering.
Is it an excuse? Living with Ted and Sue?
Is there ever going to be a good time to give up booze?
I pour what’s left in the bottle of Ketel into a two-cup measuring glass to test my guess-how-many-ounces-are-left aptitude. There are nearly 12 ounces, enough for two of my signature jumbo-sized cocktails.
The foreboding prediction:
Wednesday morning I’ll wake up and say to myself, this is it. No more. Today, I’m going to scratch another Seinfeld X on the pocket calendar Ted gave me. That will make 6 X’s in January.
But it won’t be January.
It’ll be February 1.