Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 18 - Drink 'n Drop

I came up with this plan during the summer of 2003, after a bad drunk - not my worst, but a nasty one on top of about a thousand nasty ones. It was the drunk that broke the drinker's back.

My husband was working late that night - as he often did - and as I usually did when he wasn't home, I drank by myself. People often used to ask me how I could tolerate my husband's long hours and I'd tell them, "Well, my job requires me to spend a lot of time on my own, too" or "I've always been a bit of a loner," or whatever. But in reality, I think the main reason I tolerated my husband's long hours was because it gave me more time to drink by myself.

That day started out as many of my days did back then: with a trip to one of a few local liquor stores for my daily supply of white wine, little bottles of Friexenet and/or some vodka coolers. At that stage in my life, I was "sneaking" at least a bottle and a half of white wine a day and having another couple of glasses with my husband at night.

That was just a normal day.

When I would wake up in the morning, I'd see him off to work and then go straight to the fridge for my first couple of swallows of wine - sometimes as early as 8:30. Being a writer and working from home gave me plenty of opportunities to drink alone. That particular day, (I think!) I finished somewhere between 2 and 3 bottles of wine. I do know that the last one was a dry rose. I got bored and lonely so after talking to my mom on the phone (I could only ever talk to her when I was drunk, by the way - I talk to her a lot less now that I don't drink alone), I decided to track down my two best friends from grade school and arrange a late-night conference call between the three of us where we could catch up on everything we'd missed in each other's lives in, oh, the last thirty years.

Unfortunately, my friends and I lived thousands of miles apart and this conversation ended up being the most expensive long distance call I ever made. Not that it mattered at the time. After I had hung up, I went to lie down in bed with my Discman (this was 2003) and I passed out in bed with my headphones (listening to the Beatles in this case).

When Mark came home, he found me almost comatose passed out in bed. He pulled off the headphones - kind of roughly (this wasn't the first time he'd come home to find a passed out and/or belligerently drunk wife) and asked me: "What the hell happened? It smells like distillery in here." I told him to "fuck off" and waited for him to leave the room before I rolled over and reached into my bed stand to polish off the last of that bottle of rose.

The next morning, predictably, I woke up with a massive hangover. My husband had already left for work and when I looked at the clock, after 11am, I knew I was too late to keep a lunch date with a friend. I could feel that "mercury yolk" roiling around in my head like the one described so well in Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities." Worse than the hangover, however, was the guilt. I couldn't believe it had happened again.

My mother was a terrible, belligerent blackout drunk and if there was one thing in this world I did not want to be, it was my mother. And here I was, waking up drunk and guilty - again.

I called my friend and rather than making up excuses for not being able to meet her (a definite warning sign according to the research), I just told her the truth. I had gotten really drunk the night before and I was too hung over to leave the house. I couldn't even stand up straight my stomach hurt so much. She said "You have to do something, sweetie," and I said, "I know."

When my husband came home, I sheepishly met him at the door. Now 'sheepishly' is being kind. The absolute despair I felt for having behaved like that, for hurting him again, for letting MYSELF down - was hell on earth. I told him I have to "do something."

So I did.

Another good thing happened that night. I finally realized that my younger brother had always been right. The Beatles really did write better songs later in their careers.

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