[Editor’s Note: I’ve actually been contemplating writing a post about this for quite some time and when I saw today’s prompt, I figured now is as good a time as any. What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?]
My relationship with alcohol had always been a casual one…up until a couple of years ago. I drank socially. I’d gather with friends, whether it would be at a bar, a club, or at someone’s house. Drinks would be consumed. Shenanigans had. Memories created. Then it would be another few months before I consumed an alcoholic beverage again.
Two years ago my wife left me. My life spiraled out of control. I was, emotionally, at the lowest point of my life. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. If I tried to eat I became nauseous. I could only keep down liquids, so my diet consisted of coffee, chocolate milk, and alcohol. I turned to alcohol because it was the only way to purge my mind of the clusterfuck of thoughts constantly rampaging through my head.
Why did she leave me?
Who is she with?
Who is she fucking?
How can I get her back?
When I was drunk I didn’t care.
After a couple weeks of this I finally made an appointment with my doctor and he put me on prozac. It took a few days, but I was eventually able to cope without turning to alcohol. It also helped that I was little by little changing my wife’s mind. After a two month separation, we got back together.
In February of 2013 she decided again that she no longer wanted to be married to me. Even though I was on prozac, I still had a bit of trouble handling it. I handled it much better than I did 6 months prior, but I still turned to alcohol to quiet my mind. From then until now, the majority of the days I haven’t had my children I’ve been drunk. It became habitual. There was always some drama happening in my life I didn’t want to face. Whether is was my divorce, problems with women, depression’s demons, or simply missing my children when they weren’t there, I didn’t want to deal with it. I was all drama’d out. I wanted to be, as Pink Floyd would say, comfortably numb.
I was tired of the bullshit. I was tired of feeling like a failure. I was just tired of all the negativity that I somehow seem to gather without even trying.
My drink of choice has always been Southern Comfort. When I was 17 years old my stepfather’s friend came over one night with a super-sized cup of spiked Coke. We got to talking and he told me what he was drinking: SoCo and Coke. He let me try it and holy shit was it good.
Sure, I’ve cheated on SoCo occasionally and drank things like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Kahlua, or red-headed sluts, but SoCo has been my go to self-medication for the past 20 years. In the last couple of years, actually, my childless nightly rituals involved either Mike’s Harder Lemonade or SoCo and Coke. Mike’s Hard Lemonade isn’t the greatest tasting beverage, but it’s cheap and let’s me get drunk for 5 bucks. You can’t beat that.
Luckily for me, the frequency with which I have my children probably saved me from becoming a full-blown alcoholic. They saved me, and not a one of them is aware of this. Hell, I wasn’t aware of this until recently. I knew I was probably drinking a little too often, but I figured once or twice a week wasn’t really a problem.
Last week, though, it finally hit me that it’s becoming a problem. I had 20 bucks to my name and my gas tank was on empty. I had a very shitty day and really wanted a drink to calm myself down. With 20 bucks, though, I couldn’t get gas AND get alcohol. I had resigned myself to just being stressed out all night when I remembered that my Midas credit card can be used at Mobile/Exxon gas stations to purchase gas.
So I searched the internet to find the closest Mobile station, used the card to get gas, and used 5 bucks of my remaining cash to get enough Mike’s Harder Lemonade to make me forget about the shitty day I’d just had. Well, enough to at least make me not care about the shitty day I’d just had.
It occurred to me even while I was doing this that my behavior was just a bit pathetic. And sad. But I didn’t care. I did it anyway. I needed the escape from the pain I was feeling. I had it. I got drunk and ended up playing with the new pop gun my dad had gotten Baby C the day before, which by itself is kinda funny, but extremely sad in the larger scheme of things.
I haven’t had a drink since.
A week and half isn’t a whole lot of time to say I haven’t had a drink, but considering the frequency with which I have been drinking the past couple of years it’s something to feel good about. I’m not going to quit drinking altogether, because I enjoy feeling drunk, but I am going to try to find different ways to cope with my pain. I want alcohol to be a compliment to my good times, not a crutch for my bad ones.
My late aunt used to refer to Southern Comfort as her medicine. I turned Southern Comfort into my own medicine. It’s time to come off the medication and face the demons from which I’ve been fleeing and I think I’m finally ready to do it.