"How do I know if I'm an alcoholic?" "Well as one, let me give you some warning signs. Number one: after a night of heavy drinking, you wake up fully clothed going, 'Hey! Somebody shit in my pants!'"
- Robin Williams on alcoholics
I am an addict. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to admit in my life, but I'm getting to a point where I can say it out loud. I've been addicted to a number of things in my life. I spent a year stealing prescription painkillers from an old roommate. A fateful night in Toronto spent wandering around hopelessly lost for five hours because I'd mixed the things with booze put a quick end to that. I smoke cigarettes but oddly they seem to fall into a unique category of addiction, in that there's a strong chance they will kill you but they're not an intrinsically tragic addiction as they don't directly destroy others' lives (secondhand smoke, blah blah).
Which brings us to alcohol. Yes, I drink too much. I'll readily admit this to most people. But I've always been loathe to use the word alcoholic. To me that word carries a mental image of jittery disheveled guys buying bum wine at the corner gas. But then again I have a love/hate relationship with stereotypes. I am the first person to protest them but I fit so many myself. Tattooed wifebeater-clad ghetto kid, eccentric artist, hilarious lesbian, what have you. But alcoholism might be one of the rare sociological phenomena that possesses a stereotype it wholly defies 90% of the time.
Enter my friend Tom's mother. This woman has been like a second mother to me for going on three years now. She is intelligent, has many interests, loves animals, is an awesome cook, and exercises regularly. We have talked at length about photography, books, cooking, and workout routines.
She also drinks three bottles of wine nightly.
Now it's not unusual for me to plop down in front of the computer and down a six-pack or a bottle of wine myself, but sheer guilt paired with stomach-lurching nausea prevents me from doing this every day. It would seem she has some guilt of her own, as she has proposed that she, Tom, and I begin attending AA meetings. Tom and I have had our share of fights and other problems resultant from drinking. We've had two major falling outs where we have not spoken to one another for months on end, all because of a night of heavy drinking gone wrong. I've struck him, he's struck me. We have looked each other in the eye and admitted we are alcoholics. The first step, as they say. However, the agitated message he sent me on Skype last night told me that his dear mother might not have the same desire to heal as we do.
"She just broke her TV hurling the remote at it, because she couldn't figure out how to change the channel."
He stayed up all night to ensure his mother didn't accidentally kill herself. I got through the night by downing a triple dose of my anxiety meds to ensure I didn't rip the balls off the next person who crossed my path today. But I've been ripping the proverbial balls off every person I encounter as I try to cleanse my body of its poison. Last night I told off my friend Chalz just for the hell of it. He did nothing wrong, but I hate him. He places me on a pedestal. I'd like to kick him in his little faggot balls. He tells me daily that he loves me. I'd like to punch him in the face. I tell him that I'm a drunk and I'm going to try my damnedest to stop drinking before I destroy my life for good. He tells me that's a bit extreme.
Yeah. That's love right there, fucko. Just like I don't remember for the life of me that I told you I'd fuck you.
Tom has been sober for almost four weeks now. I went a week and fell off the wagon hardcore this weekend. I've had a couple of glasses of wine tonight as I write this. He doesn't know. I want to tell him, but I don't want to demoralize him. He has three shots of vodka stashed in his bedroom, he says, that he's avoided drinking by sheer willpower, despite the countless stresses he faces daily from dealing with his mother. I drank tonight because I was bored.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.