The snow was coming down hard that New Year’s Eve and it was my first without alcohol – or so I thought. I was married to a drunk – and I married a drunk on purpose. He was tossing them back and slurring magnificent nonsense. Offensive nonsense. To “show him what his drinking was doing to me,” I strolled purposefully to the kitchen. I reached into the freezer, grabbed his rum and threw my head back. Now he wouldn’t have anymore. Screw him. It glugged coldly-hotly down my throat. But it wasn’t enough. The switch was flipped and I needed more. Way more.
Frenzied hands tore through the cupboards. Thump. Crunch. Phhhht! Rattle. Thump. Thump. Clang. The contents of my cupboard made its way to the floor. Splayed across the white and blue linoleum were Rice-a-Roni boxes with cans of soup and sleeves of bouillon. There it was: Vanilla. I emptied that into my mouth and continued to wildly toss foodstuff onto the floor. Ny-Quil. I cracked the top and tossed it back. My then-husband pleaded with me to stop – or I think that’s what he was doing. His eyes were slits and his mouth murmured unintelligible words. Something about “two months.”
Yeah. I had two months. Two months clean. Two months of white-knuckling it. Two months. I didn’t give a flying f**k.
Nonperishable food items flew through the air and I realized I had exhausted all possibility of drinking in the kitchen. I purposefully charged to the bathroom. There was the Listerine. Icy Blue. A wise pairing with the Ny-Quil. Sure makes it sound more sophisticated, doesn’t it?
After chugging some of the Listerine, my stomach raised its hand and begged me to stop. Or else. There was now some clarity and I wasn’t buzzed. Where were those numbers from AA? They were crumpled balls at the bottom of my purse. Anyways, I couldn’t call them at this hour. And I had never called them before. I called my mom. It was 2:30AM. Maybe 3.
The bleary voice at the end of the phone whispered, “Hello?”
“Mom?” My voice cracked and I said no more. The icy taste of the Listerine with the black licorice – or liquorice?- taste of the Ny-Quil was nauseating. I breathed through my mouth. “I drank.”
She was quiet for a moment and then snapped into “professional mode.” The lady had been trained to work at the local detox when she was a nurse at the hospital, but fate took her elsewhere. But she had the training. “You stop drinking now and go to a meeting tomorrow.” Mom paused before continuing. “Are you okay?”
“This isn’t like a diet where you ate some cheesecake and you can say ‘screw it.’ You stop it right now.” Her voice was firm. Solid.
I listened. What she said was so simple and it is exactly what I would have told myself if I had had the clarity. But ‘fessing up was therapeutic, too. I admitted to what I had just done and as easy as it was to do it – just say some words, right? – it was one of the hardest things I had ever done.
And they say the worst thing is a head full of AA and a belly full of booze.
I went to bed, fearing the familiar tingling in my legs. That delightful tingling that the first drink delighted me with. I stared at the ceiling and thought of my two months. I had never had two months. Not since I was like …. I don’t know? Seven years old?