I quit booze more often than I bid farewell to cocaine. Each time alcohol and I would part, I would dry up completely for a few weeks or a few months. When I thought I had tamed the beast, I would treat myself to a beer, usually on a Saturday night. Next step was three beers on the following Friday, and four more beers the next day. Then I cut my week in half with eight beers on a Wednesday, until I was drinking twelve beers again each night of the week. I have said goodbye to cocaine once, only.
Each time I quit booze, I lied: I wasn’t sobering up completely, I was taking some distance, you know, like when you take a break from your couple for a few days… just before you find yourself in bed together having torrid make-up sex and delving right back into your dysfunctional relationship. I lied to my friends, I lied to my wife—the biggest lie was that I had it under control—that I knew what I was doing. I could stop anytime…again. I reinforced my lies with the convictions of a man who knew he couldn’t go a day without drinking, yet had to convince those around him that he didn’t have an addiction. I needed my wife’s buy-in. If I could bluff her to believe in my impending sobriety, I would snag another night of drunken descent. If I had been in therapy, I would have lied to my therapist.
When I drank my last beer and my last shot of vodka three years ago today, I was scared shitless. Booze and I were celebrating twenty years of life as a couple. I was more honest with a 355ml bottle of beer than with the woman who shared my bed. I woke up the next day as a dry drunk.
I still have cravings, when my wife has a glass of wine, when I see a pitcher of beer on a patio table some summer evening, when I watch a movie at night at home in my pjs. I indulge in other addictions: I eat candies, I suck on lollipops, I drink sparkling water, but nothing replaces a cold beer.
Now, I am aware of my evenings, of the time I spend with my wife. I remember the movies I watch. My mood doesn’t suddenly switch from euphoria to fury because I had one too many, and a commercial on television triggered a visceral reaction, one that I take out on whomever sits beside me. I don’t wake up with a pasty mouth, groggy and wondering if I fucked up the night before when I was hammered, vague on the details, afraid that I might have hurt someone with my words. I do not miss the blackouts. I do not miss causing pain to the ones I love.
I don’t drink, I am celebrating three years of life without alcohol. But I am not sober—I haven’t dealt with the reasons behind the addiction just yet. So begins therapy. I would like to be honest. Because I miss you, my old friend. I miss drowning my sorrows in your bitter taste.