Six Weeks Until Christmas
Chapter 10: Relapse
I continued my baby steps through IOP, reading, making new friends, getting back to work and, in general, applying myself. But relapse struck faster than it took me to build this my new reality.
It seemed as if I had discovered a new property, surveyed it, studied its design, talked to people to gain a feel for the neighborhood, spent due diligence on paperwork, envisioned a new life in it, built hopes for future living and finally signed the papers. Only after moving in, a freak storm reduced my efforts to rubble, leaving me to sit among the ruins.
To be honest it happened so fast I didn’t see it coming.
I was out with colleagues, on the town. It was late and we were in a bar. A beautiful Asian waitress carried a tray of drinks to us and distributed them according to tipple. I excused myself to go to the restroom. On returning, I found a bottle of Budweiser at the table. I looked at my friends who clearly didn’t know my mental condition. I picked it up and drank it without a thought, then placed it back on the table and checked to see how much I’d consumed. Halfway.
What followed seemed like a procession. One Budweiser after the next. Everything turned blurry. More Budweiser on the table. Every now and then, my head rolled back in a drunken, weary way.
I can’t remember my friends leaving first or if I did, but I know I must have stopped somewhere on the way home because, before I knew it, the Baron of Boozeville was back. Not so much sitting atop his throne, more sprawled on the floor in his den of inequity with a bottle of wine.
Through the mist came the realization of what I allowed myself to do. I could not physically scream or shout. I was incapable. Instead I felt as though I’d watched a beautiful sunset pass in an instant to be surrounded in darkness.
I couldn’t see my now destroyed progress. I couldn’t hear Nance’s sound advice, couldn’t see Tom’s graduation smile and Karen’s cubby-hole office was only a figment in my imagination. I thought their contribution would live in my new psyche but Budweiser after Budweiser and wine had left me in a black hole, void of inspiration. The listening, sharing and schooling were so far out of focus they could have been on Mars. All I could feel was a dull inner pain and a faint whispering.
The ache continued. But then I convulsed. Slowly at first and then with some momentum my body began thrashing around. Sweating. It was happening all over again. The whispering kept piercing away. I could see the Budweiser label again.
My body lurched forward and my hands clasped the blanket for dear life. I looked around my bedroom. Across the floor. Up at the walls. Left. Right. Then at myself. Then at the end of my bed. I crept into the kitchen as if I’d heard a burglar. On opening the refrigerator, its light shone against my half shut eyes, forcing a wince. No booze there. The bin. Nothing. No sign of empties in the living room as I examined it. I was sweating. I crouched beside the refrigerator craving cool air. Its open door shone light on the wooden floor and my bare feet.
I stared at the floor gathering myself very slowly. I didn’t feel drunk. I wasn’t. Was this possible? It was a dream? Well, dreams are what I’d call meeting Sandra Bullock so it wasn’t a dream.
If any non-alcoholic reading this is thinking, hmm someone was jacked up on coffee writing this part or artistic license in play methinks, I fully understand. I’ve had similar difficulties believing someone was able to process emotions in their sleep. Sure, I had dreams filled with joy and sadness before but always in a voyeuristic sense. As if I was watching myself on the television.
But I was in the middle of this nightmare. I wasn’t watching myself drinking the beer. I was watching the beer going down my throat. It was my first drunk dream. I felt no joy or relief on finally coming to the conclusion I was sober. I didn’t hop, skip and jump back to bed and wake up the next morning hearing birds tweeting. This was real.
Two days later at evening IOP, an attendee talked about having a drunken dream the night before. Just before he said the words ‘drunk dream’ I was reading notes. Have you ever seen the posture of a meerkat? It uses its tail to balance when standing upright and its posture is a unique sight, as if it’s perpetually on guard, scrutinizing all before it. I sprang up with as close a stance to the species as possible. When he told the group about the experience he didn’t end it with a relieved smile or a laugh. I understood.
The mind, and an alcoholic mind at that, is a fucked up place.
About the author Simon Tait
A communications professional with over 15 years of experience in public relations and freelance journalism, Simon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in publishing from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. For the last ten years, he has worked in the energy industry within the public affairs and communications sphere in the United Kingdom, U.S. and Asia. In his spare time, he contributes to sports and men’s lifestyle publications and has written accounts on recovery for the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.