The Von Bondies - Not That Social
For themesong, our new music meme. See here for details. Today’s theme (and here’s the calendar of themes) is: i drink alone.
This is a fitting time for this theme because it was around this date five years ago that I had my last drink. When I poured that drink (gin) I didn’t know it was going to my last. It just was.
It was easy because a few months back I realized I’d gone from social drinker to heavy drinker to problem drinker was teetering on the brink of “she’s a drunk.” This was spread out over years, with the move from social to heavy starting in the late 90s. I spent about three years being a heavy drinker and then at some point in early 2001 a little voice in my head said “this is a problem.”
The drinking is a problem when you’re drinking enough during lunch hour that you remain dysfunctional for the rest of the work day.The drinking becomes a problem when you spend all day looking forward to the moment you can have a drink. It’s a problem when your hands are shaking as you pour the alcohol into a coffee mug or paper cup or the first container you can get your hands on and it’s a problem when your coat isn’t even off yet as you do that. It’s a problem when you forego the illusion of having an after-dinner martini in a fancy glass with gin and olives and vermouth and you just go straight for the gin before dinner. It’s a problem when you say screw the cup and just drink it out of the bottle.
I drank because it made me social, it made me talk, it made me not sit at family functions in a corner by myself, hating on everyone. I drank because it helped me tolerate those situations and because that glass of vodka or Jack Daniels or whatever they happened to have handy made it appear that I was happy and social and more like them. I drank because it was the only way I could face people.
I recognized the problem and I recognized why it was happening. I drank to forget what a disaster my life was. I drank because my life was a disaster. I drank because I was unhappy. I drank because the only time I could find laughter in anything was when I was drunk. I drank because alcohol is a giant broom that sweeps everything under the surface where you don’t have to see it. I drank so the dark thoughts and anxiety wouldn’t keep me up at night. I drank alone and I drank mostly because I was alone even though I wasn’t.
No one really knew I was a drinker because I rarely left my house except to go to work and the occasional family thing and I even stopped going to family things after a while. I stopped going to work every day, too. I used my sick days, my vacation days to stay home and get drunk and not leave my house or answer phone calls or emails or invitations to anywhere. I stayed inside my house with myself and my thoughts and pretended to have this lovely little life with a person who hated me. Which was ok, because I grew to abhor him. We led separate lives in the same small house, a house that was bloated with resentment and regret and anger, things that were like poison gas being pumped into the air, ready to be ignited.
I knew the only way to fix everything was to fix myself first. I knew the only way to stop drinking was to get rid of the reasons I was drinking. Those two things don’t always work hand in hand. But I had the support of a really good friend whose friendship at that point in my life was the only constant, the only true thing I believed in and could count on. So I stopped drinking so much. I cleared my head a bit. I pulled myself together. And then, without much fanfare, without a big explosion, I removed from my life the main source of my misery and honestly, that worked both ways. I think he was just waiting for me to make the first move.
And then I didn’t need to drink so much. I didn’t want to. I needed to keep a clear head and face my problems head on if I wanted to start my life over. So I drank less and less and soon there was only one bottle of liquor left in the house - some banana flavored thing someone gave me that tasted like gasoline - and I didn’t buy any more. I was ok. I was doing ok. It was hard to try and sleep without it, it was hard to come home from work and not wash the day down with gin, but I was doing it.
That was five years ago. A lot has changed since then. I did start my life over and I started it without alcohol and I’m ok with that. I’ve learned how to be social without it. I’ve learned how to sleep without it. I’ve learned how to live without, mostly because I’ve learned how to live.
Sure, there are days I come home from work and think about how much a good, stiff drink would help me unwind. When I’m in social situations I often think about how a drink would loosen me up a bit or make me more talkative. But I don’t do it for two reasons. I’m not a one drink drinker. I don’t know how to drink without drinking to get drunk. So I keep myself sober for myself and I keep myself sober out of respect for Todd, who struggled with alcoholism and addiction for many years of his life (and has been clean and sober for about eight years now).
you’re not that social, just a good drinker
breathe in, breathe out
i know you’re drowning