I know I am here for the day now. The whiskey weighs me down like nothing else. I know it’s not the whiskey really – it’s the shame of Day 1 hiding underneath the smack on the lips and the familiar aaagh on the back of the throat. I have missed all these things and I have been relieved that they were not there at the same time. The drinker’s dilemma. Do we feel better without the drink? In truth – no, because then we see ourselves in all our ugly truth and who wants that? We all need mirrors. But we all need friends too and alcohol is and always will be my best friend. The sort of friend who parties with you then leaves you when you fall over and rip your tights. The sort of friend that looks good with an ugly heart. A friend with a filter. A false friend. ‘It’s better than no friend!’ I say out loud as I take another swig. My coordination is already off and I miss my mouth and laugh.
It’s taken hold quickly after 21 days off the roller coaster and now it’s time to belt up and admire the view. The up is the up and on the up there is no future planning for the down. When you’re drinking you’re in the moment. Isn’t that what the Power of Now is all about? I laugh again at my own joke because the drink may be a friend but it never laughs along so my lonely, hard laughter echoes down the hall. When I drink, I count down the hours and the minutes and the seconds of my life because it seems so monotonous but at the same time it can be divided by drinks. Without a drink, life seems less ordered and more like a long stretch of time to fill. With a drink you have nothing to lose but time. I don’t know why I do it and that’s a lie. I do it to lose the time I have been given because maybe I don’t feel I deserve it.
I do it because I can’t not do it. I believe the lies I tell myself and that is why you will never win an argument with an addict. Please believe me. I believe them totally….Or is that another lie? I believe them with my mind drenched with the drug and sparking up the familiar neural pathways to Hell. But in my gut, my heart, my spirit, whatever you want to call it – that other place where survival comes from – the clues we have from some other source – the intuition – I don’t believe any of them. Luckily, that place is firmly locked off and ring fenced for the alcoholic and if you dare to step in and point it out there is only one next step – anger and indignation. Who do you think you are telling me? So here and now, a quarter of the way down the remaining whiskey, I believe my own lies.
Outside the wind has been howling all night. like a warning of something. Nature roughly tackles you if you walk by the sea on a day like this. I will go out later so that the oxygen can speed up the rush of alcohol in my veins and stave off the bottom of the bottle low before the new bottle high. Another binary. Addiction exists only in binaries – to drink or not to drink? Red or white? Small or large glass – ha ha do you have to ask? Single or double? There is a chain pub on the front, painted in grey, where no one ever looks out on the balcony except to roll up cheap tobacco and frustratingly suck it dry. There, the only question your brain will be forced to consider is – do you want to go double for 50p and who ever says no? In time honoured fashion they will keep serving until they have filled you with so much knock off cheap shit out of date alcohol that you can’t stand or see straight then yet another guard will throw you out onto the dog shit stained streets where you can add your body fluid of choice and maybe try to box with your imaginary foes who look just like your brothers.
Extract from novel in final draft.
Alice Smith 2021