When you get sober you get a lot of time back. Like straight unfucked-up time. You are clear and chill and aware. You sleep beautifully. You don’t have a bunch of toxic chemicals rusting and gutting out the chewed up ruts in your intestines or your brain or your thoughts.
I remember one morning shaking so badly I had trouble applying mascara and lipstick was entirely out of the question. That scared me, actually. But not enough. I remember countless times waking up in bed with my phone smashed against the floor and my AirPods each having fallen their separate ways. One buried under the covers and one in the corner across the room.
And I guess a part of you could find that funny. That I had passed out with no recollection of how I fell asleep, what I was watching on my phone. The glass on the night stand with the sticky crust of old white wine congealed on the bottom like the salt clumps of dried up tears. My aching head. It is possible to feel embarrassed even with no one around, just in front of yourself. Only it isn’t embarrassment it’s shame and it burns and it hurts and it clutches at the entire breadth of your chest. And I didn’t know what to do with that. I didn’t want to feel it, I knew that. And there was really only one way I dealt with feelings I didn’t want to feel.
And only I didn’t pass out like a person who had just lived a hectic full day and was tired for all the normal reasons one can be tired at the end of a day. I didn’t pass out, I blacked out. And there is a very vast and deadly difference between those two phenomenons. You can do all kinds of shit while blacked out. You can carry on a conversation. You can flirt and fuck and eat and order more drinks. And smoke a pack of cigarettes while discussing politics or porn or whatever else falls into your mind and tumbles out of your slowed-down mouth. And drive a car. And laugh. And argue and scream and run and fall. And somehow get into and out of hotel rooms. And all of these things that you are doing, you are doing them while your brain imprints absolutely no memory of any of it whatsoever.
Because you have ingested so much ethanol that you forced your body to have to make a choice: remember things or keep you alive. At a certain level of intoxication, you can’t have both. Too much energy has to be spent trying to clear your system of poison. And so I would collect my little ear buds from wherever they had landed when I crashed and wonder if anyone in the house heard my phone slam against the ground at some random hour of the night I do not recall because I could not feel or hear or sense anything at all. And I do not laugh because it isn’t funny it is lonely and tragic and helpless. And no body knows except me.
I weep inside so hard for that old version of me. She was so lost and so sad and so busted up. So confused. So wasted. Functional, though. “High functioning.”
All this to say that I have a lot of time now. Time to sort through shit. To face the hurt and the pain and the fear. But one thing I know I can do with this time not spent either drowning or resuscitating myself, is pay attention. To what I need. To what I deserve. To what I want. And I am starting to see why our culture would rather a woman remain fucked-up. Why the jokes about ‘rose all day’ and ‘mommy juice’ and ‘this is probably wine’ mugs. All that bullshit I used to buy into. When you are sedated you can’t say what you mean or claim what’s yours. When you are drunk-combative they can call you deranged and you can’t argue with that.
But if you can manage to wake up from the illusion, you get your life back. You get every minute of every day, evening, night, morning, and dawn. To make happen what you want to happen. To do and say and experience and claim and change and elevate what you desire with your entire unconventional, capable, strong, electric being. And perhaps those who are at the helm, the ones who benefit most from the pushing of the booze, the creators of this culture and this kind of warped, predatory society that glorifies trashing innocent bodies and minds at every turn, perhaps somewhere deep down, they know there is nothing in this world more dangerous than that.