The decision to drink until I passed out every night was not consciously made. No, this new lifestyle crept into my evening routine like a slug, gliding – albeit at a glacial pace – while concealed in gloom cast by a clouded mind. Eventually, instead of ambling to bed, I’d fall asleep on the couch, my fourth goblet of wine half drained. And when I started to sweat alcohol at the gym, I decided it was best to come home from work and attend to my box of Malbec rather than pursue what had once been my passion. Because restless but dreamless sleep mattered most now, even if I was becoming increasingly late for work.
I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was weak, and in my decision unintentionally became an embodiment of my own weaknesses. In recovery, you’re told that you’re only as sick as your secrets. But there’s so much that they don’t say, so many proverbs generated by an overwhelmed mind. There’s safety in silence; you can only be told you’re a slut if they know. Secrets, when revealed, are just a way to create problems. And not only for yourself. This is what I told myself when I switched to drinking hard cider, hoping I would better pace myself. (The only accomplishment I can lay claim to through this choice is gaining ten pounds faster than I could ever lose them.) So the sickness spread. I was only ever wrong.
One or the other, and I would have survived. But I lost a part of me twice in a span shorter than the life I went on to extinguish. As time went on, I didn’t heal. I couldn’t. These empty spaces grew larger, like the red ring surrounding an infected wound. The pain started small but swelled, til dime-sized lesions became as large as islands – all held within me, curdling my thoughts until they resembled pus.
I’m aware now of where silence got me. And as I put away the bottle, having come to understand that I will not passively die despite my expressed interest, I encounter nights that are both restless and sleepless. I wake up to myself talking, terrified of him or crying to you. Love for myself sleeps in the New Jersey sewage with our clump of cells I flushed all those months ago. It was gray, among all that red; given a few more months, it could’ve had a name. And my pride was torn from between my legs, that day I was reminded I don’t own my body. Like the lifeless sac that passed through me, I see him in my nightmares.
Now I wait, and in an unfamiliar development (that makes me yearn for the numbing effects of gin), wonder the course of my fate. Will I explode and die, my regret just a bloated corpse decomposing within me? Or will my body expel this half-formed shadow of life too? Someday, will I rejoin the living? Will I leave my night terrors behind so I can stop drinking and puking them away?
Only time will tell. But I hope that this new era is marked by healing and not by holes.