Citation: The Man of Decency. "A Few Days: Hope for the Future: An Experience with Alcohol (exp75950)". Erowid.org. Jan 16, 2020. erowid.org/exp/75950
The First Day
"Do you know what it is like", she asked, crying and quaking, "to be second to booze?"
He had no answer, for the truth of the matter was that even he was second to booze. He had always loved the drink more than himself, more than her. He sat on the edge of the bed, reeking of stale cigarettes and drunken mexican saliva, frothed and spit up onto him not an hour before.
He had not eaten since lunch the previous day, but he paid his growling stomach no heed. Food was the furthest thing thing from his mind. Jail. Loss of friends. Loss of the one woman, who for some unknown reason, stuck with him, still in love with him and hating herself for it.
"This is your bed", she remarked with an icy whisper and pointed to the couch, already made up.
He was touched, but too strung out for the feelings to sink in. All he wanted was for time to turn back six hours. Six hours ago, his biggest concern was what to get for his parents, siblings, and friends for the holidays. But this is now his life. This is the path he chose, and he must walk it. Not for adventure, not for wonder, but for penance, for pain. There is no fate. He made a choice, and he must deal with it.
"Can I come to bed?" he asks, knowing that even if she lets him, it will be the coldest night of sleep of his life. He knows that she cries, and he is dying for it. He wishes for death, for himself, for the love she has for him. He knows that it is her love for him that is breaking her, scarring her more deeply than any man has before.
He wakes the next morning after three hours of fitful sleep. He organizes the release of his car. He contemplates suicide and wonders again how he would do it if he had the strength. He spends the day in her company, watching her reflect the emptiness that is growing between them.
She gets up and hugs him, telling him that it will be alright. Part of him wishes to throw her to the floor and run away forever, ridding her of himself, so that she may never be hurt by such a man. She calls him a good man, a decent man. But he is a selfish man, a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, a scoundrel, an insulter, a corrupter, a weak man who pretends to be strong by cutting down those around him. He is a bad man, an evil man, who is the harbinger of pain and suffering to all those closest to him.
His parents, who lost both mothers in an incredibly short amount of time, who still had the strength to go to Israel only to receive a welcome home present that their drunk of a son once again is in trouble with the law. His long-suffering brother who gave him $500 to get his car released. His sister, who lent an ear when she should have been left alone and not have been burdened with an alcoholic siblings problems. A best friend, who has been where he has and was forced to travel state lines to bring money. Another friend who is blamed for his alcoholic problems when it is not the friend at all, but him who could have simply said "no", but lacks the depth of faith or strength to refuse.
Why did he drink that night? Why did he risk putting himself in this situation? Because he is an alcoholic, recognizing his true nature and continually doing nothing about it. He realizes that this is not a disease that is only affecting him. It has now affected every aspect of his life. His job is still secure, thankfully, but the truth is that it might be affected by the outcome of his case. But regardless, he has damaged all that he holds most dear. He is truly lost. He cannot see darkness, nor light. There is nothing but fog. A fog that clings to the soul.
He sometimes wishes for the fog to enter his soul and never leave. He wishes to fade behind the slate of gray reality and be among the walking dead. He wishes for numbness, for a place devoid of emotion, for they have caused nothing but anguish and torment for anyone he has touched. He wishes for a way to repair such damage in a lasting way, in a way that they will believe him, and in a way that they will love him for it.
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My siblings. My soulmate. I am killing them all.
I am an alcoholic.
The Second Day
An ex-girlfriend calls, and he relates his story of woe, one that thousands of other men have told thousands of times to others. He tells her that he might have to leave his place of residence, kicked out of his house, for repeated breaking his promises.
"Do you need a place to stay?" she asks, her voice soft, hopeful.
He says he might.
"You can always stay at my place," she says.
He knows full well what this means, and would mean for him.
"Where do you now live?"
Lakeview, she replies. You always knew that.
Did he? He continues this back and forth half-hoping for a window of escape, half-hoping that she might provide a way to dump some of him pain into her, to use her.
He drives to another meeting, the roads slick with fresh ice. He drives above the speed limit, accelerating quickly, turning much to sharp for the conditions. He wants to drive recklessly to breathe some life and excitement back into his dead shell. He wants to drive recklessly so that he may crash, hard, steel and glass and blood and bone intertwining at high speeds.
He speaks as honestly as he can at the meeting. It is more a cry for help toward the heavens, more a prayer than a discussion. The people listen, but he knows that this is a story that they have heard many times before, and look at him questioningly.
Do you think you are different? We have been what you have been through? Give us a reason to take you to heart? There are millions of sob-stories in the world, why do you think you are different? Come back every day for the next ten years, sit here and relate this story...perhaps then we will have something in common.
He has a cigarette, commenting that while they do not fill the void of alcohol, they dull its bite. Truthfully, he has never really developed a taste for them, but does so out of habit, of punishment.
Driving home, looking ruefully and his torn upholstery, courtesy of some local police department, he thinks of his parents. He thinks of his parents walking up the stairs to his apartment, as he crawls into bed, as he sleeps, soaking his pillow with cold, foul sweat.
The phone rings the next morning, its cheerful digital bleep mocking him. His mother is on the other line, letting him know how disappointed she is in him. He is 25, a man, and is still pulling these abysmal stunts.
"Your grandmother had set aside some money for you, for which I was hoping would be a nest egg for you. Not much, perhaps 1,000 dollars."
He cries, swears, wants to rip his heart out. His poor Nana, she cared for him so, will have her memory honored by paying a lawyer to bail a piece of shit grandson out of his second mistake.
People make mistakes, he is informed. The important thing is that they grow and learn from them. But he had made the same mistake twice. And this one will cost him dearly. More money than he could have ever imagined. The love, respect, and trust of family and friends.
He could have done so many great things with his life. He could have been a great man. He was always told of his amazing potential. He used his potential to be the fuck-up of the ages, at least of his family. He is told that he should gain the capacity to forgive himself, but he cannot. He cannot see how a good man could do something so terrible to himself and those he loves.
He is a bad man, and that is it. There is no redemption for a bad man. It is said that G-d loves all his creations, and that He is good. But in his case, he must conclude that He does not care, and in all probability He hates him. And this is fine. He alone chose this path, and he must deal with the consequences. G-d did not set the laws that he broke. Man did. And he must suffer the consequences of man.
There is a part of him that wants to take the full punishment of the law, so that he may suffer as much as he made his family and friends suffer. His soul needs to be broken, and his body torn to shreds by those that society has locked away. He belongs with them. A bad man has only one place to be, and that is not living amongst decent society.
"I have seen you," He says, "and you have a twist on your soul."
But he tries to hide it...out of modesty, out of fear, out of humility, out of fear of G-d and man, he hides who he truly is.
Before the conversation ends, his mother asks him if he will be able to do all this: to pay back the money lent for the lawyer, the money lent for the bail, the alcohol treatment, the couples counseling, the hard work and long walk ahead.
What choice does he have? But man always has a choice, and that is how he endures the suffering that has been placed upon him. He can deal with it as a man, with strength and a clear head, or a coward, by running away and trying to escape the problems that are ingrained into him so fully.
He prays for strength. He prays that favor is bestowed upon him. He prays that his sorrow somehow reaches the highest heavens so that those on High may ease his and his family's pain.
It would be a lie to say that he did not also pray for death, for the good Lord to take him in his sleep. But if he is still alive, then he must still have a purpose. There must be something to be learned from all of this, some strength to be garnered.
I pray for the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference...today.
I am an alcoholic.
The Third Day
He wakes at 10:00am. It is no dream, and he is weak. He hasn't eaten at true meal since Friday night, but still, he is not hungry. He is doing it to punish himself, to make his body weak. There is some of him that wants to starve just so that he will be thinner, his fat face less apparent when he smiles, the spare tire that rounds his waist less full when he sits upon the toilet.
He strokes himself, hoping that the pleasure will provide him with brief respite from the gloom that fights to surround him completely. And it does work, if only for a few seconds. Pleasure and pain: the warm glow of a sunny day mixed with the cold metal of a needle working its way into his spine.
Shower. Hope for the car to start. It does. Scrape the ice away.
He calls his girlfriend's mother. Her real mother, the one that he considers the more feminine of the two parents. She tells him she loves him and expresses her regret at his situation. She explains that unless professional help is sought, their relationship will change drastically. He knows she loves him and quietly responds to her statements.
Armed with truth and reality, he goes to work. A short shift, a fairly uneventful day. He can tell that they do not believe that his absence from the holiday party was due from sickness, but they do not push the point. But to be fair, everything he told them was true.
He was vomiting. He was sitting in a chair covered in blankets wishing he was dead, was anywhere or anytime but where he currently existed, insides churning and hell waiting outside the shuttered windows.
The snow outside makes driving painfully slow. He resists the urge to press harder on the accelerator, knowing that he can easily crash. How quickly his desires have changed. He tells himself that he will make the meeting no matter what. He remembers that there is only one solution to live, and that if he wants to continue to draw breath, he must make it to the meeting.
"There is no such thing as being late to a meeting," his sponsor says with a smile. "Only the first one."
He listens to the stories and then it is his turn. He has been here before, many times before. He often wishes to make grand speeches of reality and G-d and alcoholism and powerlessness and dispense advice, but he does not. He tries desperately to remember that he in fact knows nothing, and is nothing. He is before square one. He has ridden the wave and it has crashed atop him, nearly killing him. But he relates that he is not dead, and must be alive for some reason. That reason cannot certainly be to continue living the way he has been. But then what is it?
He does not know, for he truly feels lost. All he knows is that he must keep moving forward, a bit at a time. All he knows is that he must make it to those meetings. He may talk, he may listen, but for now, he must do that.
It has stopped snowing. He smokes on the drive home, knowing that the cigarette is killing him, but also realizing that this is a battle that he must fight later.
The arrival home is greeted by a hug and an ultimatum.
"My mothers, your mother, your father, your brother, your best friend, and your sponsor all say you should enter into professional alcohol treatment. You need to do it, because obviously A.A. is not working."
"To be fair, I was not working A.A.", he replies.
But she says to him that if he is not in a program by the end of next week, she will ask him to leave their home. An ultimatum.
He is deeply angered, not understanding why she doesn't understand that he wants to get into a program, but is trying to take everything a step at a time and that at this moment, he cannot begin to think the logistics of it. Perhaps she wants to see him become better immediately. Perhaps her faith in modern medicine, psychiatrists, and doctors allows her to know that if only he would enter, they would cure him. Perhaps to her, A.A. is simply and only a social club, a place where drunks come to commiserate and pass time instead of picking up the bottle.
Maybe that is what it is to most people. But he is beginning to understand that this is truly the only way out. He hopes that this understanding is strengthened tomorrow, and even more so, next week. He hopes that he may once again see the light, because living in darkness is the realm of the dead. He wants to live. He wants to breathe. He wants to share in the light he sees in those people gathered in the basement of some backwater church on a incredibly snowy evening in a suburb of some city. Eight people shining brighter than the sun.
I am an alcoholic.
The Fourth Day
He arrives home again after a long day of work. The past two days he has thrown himself into it, trying desparately to focus on everything, anything but his new plight.
Getting lost in thought can kill a man, he muses.
To work is good, especially in a job that he loves. He misses a meeting the previous night due to work, but legitimacy is always a good excuse. The truth; perhaps a man-made construct, one's own recollection of events and perceptions of reality.
He resists the urge at home to be distant from his lover. He wants to become numb again, to himself, to all others, so that they know he is a changed man for the worse, and that he may never again be the same cheerful, charming man he once was. But he hopes to learn that this is not healthy, and that he will succeed, and he will be greater than he once was.
He recalls the words of a great man, a man who always had good advice when times were rough. Although a man may be shattered, he will be stronger than he ever thought possible if properly healed. As a bone break may hurt fantastically, once it heals that spot is exponentially stronger.
This evening's meeting was the best he has ever been to. The words that poured out of the five that surrounded him in a different church basement were of unparalleled depth, meaning, and truth. Honesty that he never though possible opened before him, and he truly saw that hope is real and alive, and people just like him are living that dream. But it is no dream. It is real, and it too can be his.
I am an alcoholic, and I will always be. But I am also a human, and I can become better. So can we all. Enjoy your life fully, enjoy your drink responsibly, enjoy your love freely. Live your life as meaningful and decent as you know how.
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