There was a time when I had years of sobriety. Towards the end of that I decided I didn’t want to be an alcoholic for the rest of my life so I started drinking everyday. This was about a year ago. Before I had seen voting age, I had spent years as a crack head and a drunk. Seen treatment twice and the psych ward once. Then years of sobriety. Lots of Marlb. Red 100’s and black coffee. Then an intense desire to be normal. To act normal. To engage in what I think is a very natural part of the human condition – escapism. Getting drunk. Getting high.
When I was a kid I had an invisible friend named Jimmy-Tony. Other than having a kick-ass name, I don’t remember any other detailed characteristics about him. My sister and I went to daycare every weekday. Forced socialization with children my own age, or close to my age, was never my thing. I was much more interested in chatting it up with the teacher, asking her about her life, finding out if she was married, if she had children, if she had a dog, if I could come over and pet her dog. So by this time I had two friends, the teacher and Jimmy-Tony. He was easy to be around. No bullshit. Effortless. Even tho I found his presence personally acceptable (and beyond that, a positive addition to my self-induced, social isolation), I assumed my knowledge of his existence would be perceived as a sure-fire-sign of insanity and thus I worked hard to keep him a secret.
There are few things I know with utter clarity in this moment. One, is the awareness of this thing that lives inside me. This thing that is awakened by the smallest drop of booze. Sometimes just the smell. Or the insinuation of itself. Its a very visceral experience. This last drunk I had, I was more aware of it than I have ever been. I had one sip and I felt it open its eyes. Take over what the future would be for the next set of hours. I’ve always found a slight sense of freedom in that. In that powerlessness. Like ‘whatever happens next, isn’t my responsibility, I’m just riding this, it’s not my fault.’ Obviously most of that is either illusion or hope. Hope for the impossible, which is almost the only kind of thing I like to hope for. I spend a lot of my time now resenting it. Resenting its permanence. Its residence in my body. Its power. As I walk down the street I see all different kinds of empties. Crushed beer cans, flattened plastic gin bottles, dried up nip bottles. And I envy the guy who got to drink that. I hate him, whoever he is.
My dad came to pick us up at daycare and we were in the office signing out. All I remember about the lady in charge is her shitty feather hair cut and her obesity. She sat behind the desk as my dad signed us back into his custody. Before we walked out she invited us to take an apple out of the basket (this is true, and not some creative Snow White literary metaphor). More out of obedience and less out of desire, I reached forward to grab one. Everything that is negative about my relationship with my father, I blame on this next moment.My father says: ‘Why don’t you grab one for Jimmy-Tony?’The sound of adult-condescending laughter ignites and filters out.My slow, ice-cold, 5 year old eyes tell him that he will never be forgiven and that he, will never again, be trusted for the remainder of our natural lives.
I’m not really counting days or anything. Largely because I’ve failed so many times recently and I cant seem to make it past a couple weeks without drinking again. And each time it gets worse and worse. This last drunk, I woke up as the most disgusting person I’ve yet to see myself become. I thought I would have a few beers, catch a buzz, stay at this party for maybe an hour and head out around one in the morning. I remember opening my third beer. Everything after that takes place in a four to five hour black out. I wake up in my own shit, vomit and blood. My clothes are littered around the apartment. The bathroom is covered in shit. My roommate calls it vomit. She’s a nurse, I’m pretty sure she knows it isn’t. The parts on my body where my bones stick out have gashes from falling (I find out later, — into the shower). My fist tells me I’ve punched something. Days later I get a bill for destruction of property from a car service. I throw out my comforter and sheets. I’m poor so I cant buy new ones. I’ve been sleeping on this two by four foot baby blanket I picked up at a connecticut tag sale years ago and a chenille throw from Pier One I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s maroon and leaves tiny pieces of itself everywhere. If I really needed it I could get my hands on a comforter, but something about the feelings of punishment and retribution seem appropriate. Even when I’m not drinking I feel this thing inside me. I know its there. Ready. It’s a mind fuck to walk around with something terminal. This personified, pathological thing. I’ve gotten to calling it Jimmy-Tony. I’d like to slit Jimmy-Tony’s throat, but for now all I can do is talk shit behind his back like a catty gay boy. I imagine its the way people feel when they’re diagnosed with cancer. Maybe that’s the pathological drama talking. But it feels like the moment you’re told, you have something growing inside you. You’ll walk around never sure if its growing stronger or weaker. Most likely stronger. It’s patient. It’ll wait to take you down and is fully prepared to un-remorsefully kill you. Or worse, keep you alive. Just long enough for you to ruin every valuable relationship in your life and wake up, alone, in your own shit. Now leave this doctor’s office, go out into the world and pretend you’re normal.