It’s impossible for me to sleep. I toss and turn, unwilling to give myself a break. Cravings have become stronger since yesterday. Being overtired doesn’t help. I’ve been accumulating the hours, jumping in a cab at midnight, returning to the office at eight. My mind is restless. I want to shut it down with booze. Drugs. Anything that’ll make thoughts disappear.
Memories of the rape keep flashing back. Lack of memories mostly. That night I was blackout drunk. But I remember the overpowering smell of laundry detergent. Every time I walk by a laundromat, I cringe. Can’t stand that smell. I need a shower to remove all the shame and disgust I feel mostly about myself. Water can’t remove pain and humiliation. Like a stab in the heart, I have been murdered and somehow, I survived. I hate myself for drinking that night. I hate myself for being fooled so easily. The wound has been ripped open. Bleeding, burning, stinging. All I want to do is disappear.
I remember the days following the incident. I take pills to kill my thought process. One, two, three, I need an entire bottle at this point. And if I swallow an entire bottle, let’s pray I don’t wake up tomorrow. I’m a freak. A monster. An anomaly. I hate myself. This addiction is driving me nuts. Where’s God in all of this? If there’s really someone out there controlling the fate of the universe, why have I been cursed with this plague? I can’t fathom spending the rest of my life not touching a drop of alcohol. I can’t fathom spending the rest of my life with the memory of someone violating me at my weakest point.
There’s no positive outcome possible. I don’t believe in a higher power. In all our conversations, John keeps talking about how his higher power is always there for him, whispering sweet things in his ear. Who the heck is he hearing? Voices. My minion is schizophrenic. That’s the only answer that makes any sense.
We’re individuals running after an ideal we’ll never reach. I like my alcohol. It helps shut my brain down for a little while. Too many thoughts clutter my mind. I wake up in the middle of the night, eyes wide open, ideas running wild until I’m too exhausted to keep them still and logical.
So not to forget them, I put them down on paper, to keep a memory of the million meaningless ideas flooding my mind all at once. I need drugs! Make the voice shut up. Make me go to sleep. I can’t keep going like this.
Finally turning on the light on my bedside table, I get up and walk to the bathroom. It’s three in the morning, and I look as pale as a ghost. A drink of water will calm me down. Maybe a sip of NyQuil will put me at ease. Two sips even. Do I have NyQuil? Rummaging through my medicine cabinet, I realize I don’t have any. I finished the bottle last time I had a cold.
I always finish the bottle – even when I don’t have a cold. I’m an addict – what else can I say? I live to numb the pain out. My feelings are too strong. Too overpowering for the every day routine. Working at this sales job is not what I wanted. As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a movie director. Why on earth didn’t I pursue this instead? I thought I could be normal. Happens I’ll always be weird.
Argh! Anger is coursing through my veins and I ache to scream like a wild animal. What remains when I’ve lost everything? This disease is driving me closer to insanity. I want to shut my brain down. Nuke it forever. Destroy the intelligence and become a vegetable, so I can finally live at peace. God if you exist please help me! I hit my head with my fists. Pounding hard to remove the insanity out of my brain. If the solution was that easy, it would have worked by now. It’s insanity in itself to want to remove a disease I was born with just by repeatedly bashing my skull with my powerless fists.
I’m going to cry. Seriously I’m going to cry until I can’t take it anymore. And then I’ll slit my wrists in a hot bath. I’d rather take pills at this point. I just need to make the pain stop somehow. Disappear in silence. Slip away through the cracks of the wooden floor. Become a liquid version of myself and evaporate like water when the heat is on high. This journey led me only deeper down the abyss. I can never climb back up. My hands grab onto the walls of my prison, bleeding nail beds, skin ripped to the flesh, but I ignore the physical pain. I’d lose a limb in exchange for a little peace.
What have I become? I don’t believe in God. Can’t imagine a life where I’m shackled to the ground like a prisoner because of my addiction. No prayer will help me, unless I help myself. I feel sick. Mentally ill from a disease so powerful it prevents me from seeing clearly. My addiction is my blessing and my curse. I welcome it and reject it, love it and hate it. There’s no place on earth that will content me unless I surrender completely.
But can I surrender? Is it even possible to let go of the pain and give in to pleasure, just like normal people do? How can I be normal? I can’t be like everyone else. I just can’t. My life is a nightmare. John doesn’t know how I feel. He can’t be that smart. He never told me his story. I don’t know what he went through. Will he tell me someday? Will he lift the curtain and show me his dirty secrets?
Do I even want to know his dirty secrets? What if he’s worse than me? What if I realize this addiction got the best of me, and I will never be able to defeat it? Maybe tame it. Maybe just forget about it. Maybe just learn to live with it.
I feel desperate. At the end of my rope. What’s left for me in this world?
Yesterday, I confided in John. “Can I even cry?” I asked as we strolled down the park in search for a little quiet. He looked at me the same way he’s always looked at me – with very compassionate eyes. I didn’t see judgment. Just understanding.
“You’re only human, you know?” he answered.
I sighed. “What’s after all this crying?”
I shook my head. “I don’t believe it.”
He patted my shoulder. “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.”
I scowled. “What does that even mean?”
“You’re trying too hard. Just keep it simple.”
“This AA jargon is driving me nuts.”
He laughed. “You’re not the only one.”
“Do you ever doubt the program?”
“All the time. But that’s the fun thing about it too. The more you fight these ideas you learn at meetings, the more you realize you couldn’t be elsewhere. It’s all about finding a balance, that’s it.”
“Did you find that balance?”
He shrugged. “After a while, you do. Don’t be impatient.”
“I can’t help it!” I frowned. “This whole thing just doesn’t make much sense. I don’t believe in God!”
“You don’t have to believe in anything. Just work on your recovery. Would you be happier if you drank? Ask yourself that question. If you answer yes, then feel free to go back out. No one’s keeping you here. You don’t want it, leave it.”
His words hurt my feelings. It felt like he didn’t care anymore.
“I’m not here to tell you what to do,” he added. “If you don’t keep faith in yourself, no one will help you achieve that.”
Listening to him, I wanted to cry again. Nonsense. I was born a fighter. I couldn’t get a hold of this disease that was eating my brain. Was it really too hard to achieve?
I was pretty sure then I could accomplish anything if I only put my mind to it.
“Are you lost in your thoughts?” John asked. How long had he been staring at me?
“No, not really. I’m just confused. Lost. Yeah. I am lost. And fucked up in the brain.”
He laughed. “It will all make sense. Just be patient.”
“You telling me that makes me want to punch you in the face,” I snorted.
“Everyone feels that way every once in a while,” he said.
We joked around and his laid back attitude made me feel a bit better. Yet, deep inside I was still so unsure of what was going to happen with me. It was so easy to drink and forget, and now all my feelings bubbled to the surface, raw to the touch. Everything seemed too trivial to matter. I was beyond the self I was used to, hiding behind jokes about my minion when in reality I was scared to face the truth all along. Despite his age, John was wiser than me. Not so impulsive, or impatient.
“I’m a big loser,” I mumbled. “This addiction is going to get the best of me, I feel it.”
“If you keep thinking that way, you’ll never get anything done. Don’t think of not drinking ever again. I always tell myself I’ll drink once I’m old enough not to care anymore. Which might not happen after forty years of continued sobriety. One day at a time. Just look at it this way. Does that make sense?”
I nodded. “I guess.”
“You don’t seem very convinced.”
“Well there’s nothing very convincing about this whole charade, don’t tell me you believe in this!”
He sighed. “Fine don’t be convinced.”
Was he mad at me? Was it all I could manage? Pissing people off?
John walked away from me.
Yep, I think he was mad.
“Are you pissed at me?” I asked.
“You do whatever you want, Kiki, you’re a free individual. This addiction of yours will never go away if you keep resisting. But you have to find the balance. I can’t help you unless you help yourself. And no, I’m not pissed. I’ll never be pissed at you unless I find you drinking scotch out of your desk drawer again.”
I nodded. “Loud and clear.”
So at the end of the day, I was stuck with myself. I knew this whole program was just a joke.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to drink again. I should sleep. Sleepless nights never did me any good.
But how? I’m pretty sure the liquor store’s closed by now.
To be continued…