One day I won’t feel the need to do this ridiculous counting anymore. For now, I know I need to count, to reinforce how many days I have dragged myself through without using alcohol.
It isn’t a pat-on-the-back thing. I don’t feel as though I’ve achieved anything other than keeping myself alive lately. And most people do that without considering how many days they’ve managed it for.
I suppose it doesn’t feel like success, because I haven’t stopped wanting to drink. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss it. Because I do. I really fucking miss that numbness and the warmth. I miss the taste. And I miss not caring what happens.
That’s the best and most dangerous thing about alcohol for me. I feel suicidal a lot, but mostly I push against that, arguing with myself relentlessly that it’s a bad idea. I’ve got this powerful drive to self-destruct. It’s stronger than my will to live. So I have to fight almost constantly.
When I’ve got a few drinks in me, a kind of calm descends. It envelops me and I feel so relieved. I feel like I can use my energy to breathe and just be how I instinctively want to be, rather than struggling against myself. I simply stop caring whether I live or die. I stop caring about the impact it would have on others if I were to end my life. It’s black I know, that alcohol makes me happy because I feel I don’t have to try and be happy. When I’m drunk I don’t have to try at all. It is so liberating to feel in those moments that I’ve escaped this desperate struggle for survival.
Drinking has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks. My closest friend relapsed with drugs and alcohol. I was there to pick up the pieces. I mopped up his blood, washed his mud soaked clothing, made the necessary calls to his family. All the time smelling what I needed on his breath.
I’ve opened up the deepest wounds in myself in order to give a statement to the police about the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. Giving them the detail was excruciating and the shame was searing. I have felt more desperate in these recent days than I have in months. And I’ve no idea how I have managed to stay sober.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been cutting quite a bit. Not too badly, but also not infrequently. I’ve cut my skin and punched walls until my knuckles bled. I’ve denied myself food at times. I have also been using benzos a fair bit more than I should.
None of the above is healthy or ideal, but it’s all safer than drinking would be for me. There’s a reason people call all these disturbing behaviours ‘coping strategies’; they are ways to cope. They are massively dysfunctional ways to cope, but they’ve meant I have somehow managed. I’ve somehow safely negotiated some of the hardest weeks I’ve ever experienced. No booze. No going AWOL and having the police after me. No hospital visits.
In a warped sort of way, I suppose that’s success.