I awoke to a dimly lit room; the only light was what could sneak through the curtains and the fluttering of the television dancing off the walls. I was face down, slightly askew in my bed; pillows strewn about and still wearing shoes. The depravity of this scene being forged yet again in my bedroom is swiftly encompassing my desolate, lamentable existence. I know all too well what took place, although I knew nothing of what happened. To many this seems odd, but to me, it’s all too familiar. To me, it’s just the way life is; dark, cold and lonely; face down in a queen sized bed for one, like the seemingly countless times preceding this.
I try to lift my head. No luck. I try again. This time with a little more gusto; a superfluous persuasion from my brain to my neck screaming, “You can do it”. Yes. Generally some form of dialogue resembling this stages itself in my head every morning. No, it’s not “cute” or “quirky”. Yes, it is downright annoying and I wish it didn’t take place. But it does, so I digress. I finally activate enough energy to force myself from my pillow top mattress – partially because I need to start going through my mental checklist; mostly because hydration is presumably vital to survival at this point. I hope I can keep it in my body long enough to at least absorb some. More so, I hope there is still a shot left in a bottle somewhere so my hands will stop trembling. If they don’t, the water is going to end up all over the floor and not replenishing my wilting, deprived system.
My feet link up with the carpet and I set my course for the bathroom. I make it purely from memorization of the route, for I’m dizzy and blinded by the frivolous morsels of my life flooding back in. I feel around for a glass – nothing. I’m becoming increasingly desperate now. My body is more desiccate than the Sahara. I require hydration – fast. Quickly, I discard the probability of feeling out a glass, so I locate the faucet instead. I bury my head under the salubrious flow, like a gazelle that finally found its long lost watering hole. I guzzle down gulp after gulp of metallic flavored water – simultaneously and periodically splashing it over my face. This will prove to be the highlight of my day – my face under the faucet frantically ingesting bathroom water – not exactly ideal – not like say, waking up with Folgers in my cup. It’s moments like these I long for a coffee commercial to become my reality. I’m actually fantasizing about it as my face remains planted under the waterfall of prosperity cascading through my bathroom.
After a short time, I give in to the inevitable conclusion that this is as good as it’s going to get, and I stumble back into my bedroom – slightly rejuvenated and apprehensively processing the next aftereffect from the night before.
The mental checklist, AKA my daily reprise, is the portion of the day I dread the most. It’s when the stripped down, bare bones insanity starts rearing its ugly head. This is when I try to piece together anything that may have taken place and could cause me trouble, embarrassment, or any other combination of events that may lead to unpleasant consequences. Why this chaotic cycle continues to run rampant through my life, I could not tell you – unless you consider the prevalence of my tortuously raging alcoholism. Yea, that’s probably it. Yet I carry on, leaving a wake of destruction without even giving it a second thought. It’s intensely egotistical – arguably narcissistic behavior, but as long as I’m not inconvenienced, it’s business as usual. Go figure. What a shocking revelation – a self-absorbed, “at any cost”, negligent alcoholic.
I walk into my living room and peer out the window through drawn shades. The outside world is blinding. I can hardly stand it. I yearn for nothing to exist beyond the walls that contain me. The resonating sound of kids laughing, birds chirping, and neighbors starting their day is nauseating. I don’t comprehend their utterly jovial and positive perspective on the world – so I stand there and secretly loathe them from within the confines of my home. I spot my car parked in the driveway. Check. It’s present and doesn’t appear to have any new battle scars; a tiny wave of relief washes over me – one major catastrophe fortuitously avoided. I earnestly turn my head away from the window and turn my attention to the status within my domicile.
There’s an open pizza box on the coffee table full of partially eaten slices – one appears to have escaped and lies wounded, face down in the rug; cheese meshed into the fabric and one lone pepperoni sits lifeless and inanimate. Wedged in between the couch and coffee table are bottles of Jack Daniels in a sad, shallow grave. No doubt each one had been drained of its life; no doubt they fought valiantly in a battle they would never win – submitting in order to my wraith like so many before them.
Amidst the chaotic scene sits my baby girl innocently watching cartoons. She looks over at me with nothing but unconditional love and acknowledges my presence with a sincere, “Hi Daddy”, in a soft, angelic voice; not aware of what the contents or condition of our living room really means. She knows not how sick her daddy is; how much he needs help – God – the strength of a fellowship from which others suffer the same helpless condition. I was irrefutably convinced that after I spawned a child I would keep sober – if anything in this world could motivate me to live an honest and productive life, it would be my children and for a short time it appeared to be enough. But I quickly found myself drowning in the bottle once again and questioning everything I thought I wanted for myself, and for my family. I was again defeated; broken; I folded faster than a seven-deuce to an affliction that hijacked my psyche so many years ago. These thoughts and memories raced through my mind as I gazed across the room at my daughter who was still giggling at her cartoons. How could I be so inconsiderate? So Irresponsible? I could honestly think of nothing else that would keep me from continuing on this road destined for calamity. I tossed around the idea that it would be in everybody’s greater interest for me to go down alone, rather than hold them hostage and forever anchored to my sinking ship. They would at least have a fighting chance for survival should they separate from my plague of dysfunction and false reality.
I could go on and on about where my deranged mind takes me on a daily basis or what maniacal illusions are questionably digested there, but that still leads me nowhere closer to drawing a conclusion on why I continue to operate within this hellacious cycle. I certainly knew I wanted to break the pattern and the only way to go about doing so was taking drastic measures; a total overhaul of my life and everything I’ve known. That’s exactly what I did, but not before I embarked on an epic relapse and found myself in what was then the worse shape of my life. Major life changes were my only chance at survival.
As an alcoholic, I walk a narrow path. Yet I keep my head held high and although many fall away into the night, I carry on staying focused on the faint glow of promises that penetrate the horizon, scarce as they may seem, and lead me away from the cycle of despondency. There is, no doubt, a war being waged. This war is never ending and will ultimately be determined by the battles along the way – the major conflicts; the most minuscule scuffle and every bit of dissension and strife in between. It’s a vital measure of my craving to exist; to experience, not just be physically present. I’ve always been looking for the answer, but forgetting to enjoy the ride. The greatest conclusion I have come to on this journey so far is that maybe not everything in life has a concrete answer; maybe I can draw the same results in two totally different ways. Quite possibly, just living in the moment at hand is enough; observing my surroundings; connecting with them. I breathe the miracle of life into my consciousness and let it cleanse me of all the guilt and shame of my past. It will no longer hold me captive or keep me gasping for air. The sun shines through after the darkest part of the storm and I’m finally ready to see the light.