Two Hundred and Forty-Nine Days
It’s been two hundred and forty-nine days since your last high, since that last boozy night. But you have long stopped looking at the clock.
For two hundred and forty-nine days you have been dry. But never in those days have you been truly “sober.” You don’t know what “sober” means. “I don’t drink…I’m an alcoholic.” You told them what they wanted to hear. But you never believed. Two hundred and forty-nine days of a looming question: “Can I drink again?”
You had been through treatment. You had begun the steps. But you were never a “real alcoholic.” You drank because you were lonely, because you were depressed. You drank for an escape. And for the past two hundred and forty-nine days, you haven’t needed that escape. And for the past two hundred and forty-nine days, you haven’t needed that escape.
You are sick. The doctors told you so. They slapped you with their labels and fed you their potions. And you saw your maladies beginning to subside.
But you ponder: "maybe, you can have the occasional drink…maybe, you were never truly afflicted with the alcoholic condition…maybe they, the program and its conspiracies, have made you paranoid." You always viewed it as a possibility, but suddenly their trickery seems apparent.
Two hundred and forty-nine days and your sponsor is gone. The one who kept you accountable has moved away.
And With One Sip It Began
So, you make the decision. You find yourself with a bottle of your poison. Careful not to cause a stir at your late hour, you pour yourself a glass. And with one sip it begins. With one sip you are whisked away from your dreary reality. You smile at the taste and give the fourth wall a girlish whirl. Only one thing could make your moment better.
You go to the porch of your parent’s home and take a slow inhale of the overpriced menthol cigarette you’ve been waiting on. You close your eyes and think of the inevitability of this moment. When your glass is empty and the sun has begun to rise, you head inside to take on a studious alter ego.
The days pass and your drinking cements. But without sips of your parent’s booze, you have no means. You convince your roommate that a few drinks will be a good time, and she buys you a bottle of white liquor that is sweet to the tongue. The noise in your head subsides and you relax. The light fades out into a blur.
Daylight comes and your head aches of the night before. Your throat burns a dry heat. You remove the pile of clothes that conceals your bottle. To your dismay, time has not been kind enough to stop. Three days have passed. You go to summon the blur, but the bottle is dry. You contemplate, falling into a silent depression. Perhaps a few hour pass. You might begin to sober. But the obsession never leaves you. You crave the toxic inebriation.
Pacing, you recall that your dear friend and roommate has a bottle of the same gas that fueled you. And she is away. Her door is closed, not locked. You know because you’re already inside, searching. The drink isn’t hard to find. And with an accomplish grin, you pour yourself a tall glass and take a swallow.
The Down and Up
The dark of the night blinds you as you stumble into bed. You a hit with a rush of remorse. You find yourself vulnerable, locked in the fetal position. Just like that you, have been brought down from your cloud.
You are repulsed, horrified. You’ve stolen from the friend you love. You’ve failed your parent’s trust. Gone were the morals on which you thought to pride yourself.
In this moment, you know. And at last you believe.
You are an alcoholic.
But even with this revelation, you are lost. You shed tears. You reach for help. And perhaps ten phone calls into this late-night cry for help and a few promises to your gods later, someone answers. Your roommate is at the other end of the phone. She listens, forgiving you with a heart higher than yours. You are overcome with wordless emotion, but you manage to drift into sleep.
The alarm rings to signal the morning. You take no hesitation in rising. And with the sun still making its appearance you go to the only place you can think of going – the house down the road with your former group of sobering drunks. You never liked the clubhouse before. But now they speak, and you know you are where you belong. You cannot bring yourself to leave the place. You feel safe from the outside world. But you have people and obligations in that “real world” that seems so foreign.
You excuse yourself to your car, knowing your confession is due. The phone rings and soon your mother attends the other end of the line. She listens. You wait for the rage and disapproving scorn but with a heart that is higher than yours, she forgives you. She forgives you for betraying her trust. “You can only do the next best thing,” her voice tells you. You phone up the coast to your best friend. You a showered with the same grace that seems to be the theme of the day.
Overwhelmed, you don’t know what you have done to beget such love and compassion.
You Look Forward to a Story All My Own
You’ve been sober three days and three sleepless nights. You wonder if it will ever get easier. Thirty days pass and sometimes you are tempted, but you ultimately recoil. Thirty days pass and the voice inside your head begins to transform. You take ownership of a story that is not yours.
The story is mine and you play a part.
It has been two hundred and forty-nine days dry, two weeks out, and thirty days sober and I am looking forward. My time in sobriety has not been easy, but it has been rewarding beyond compare. I have begun to know how to work a program, and I have been learning to appreciate the outstanding compassion of whatever powers may be and the people who surround me.
There is no reassurance that this new path will be long-lasting. But today I know it to be a success. That is enough for now, and I hold hope for the days to come.