It Always Starts With “One Glass”

In my last post I mentioned the wine I kept in my trunk, but this was only the tip of the iceberg. As I spiraled into alcoholism, I became increasingly anxious and aware of always keeping alcohol on hand, in case I “needed” it. Those bottles in my trunk kept me safe; their clinking against each other as I drove was soothing music to my ears. But I kept bottles in more places than just the trunk, and it wasn’t just wine. Sometimes, wine took too long. If I needed a quick fix, a shot of liquor, something really strong like Everclear, would get me in the right state of mind a lot faster. It’s not nearly as delicious, and wine would always be my first love. But liquor still gives that warm feeling in your stomach, the tingling in your fingers and toes, the soft melting of the world around you that made everything a little bit nicer, a little bit easier, a little bit funnier. Drinking, for me, was as cozy as a fleece blanket, and as daily and necessary of a habit as brushing my teeth.

At my lowest point, I had bottles stashed everywhere – under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, in the fridge, in my car, under the bed; anywhere a bottle could fit and be out of sight, I had a stash there. When I was younger, I used to hide dollar bills in the pockets of some of my clothes, so I could be pleasantly surprised when I found it later or could dig them up in case of emergencies (and by emergencies, I mean shoes or something like that I really wanted). The bottles were my new dollar bills.

And I could never have just one glass. Before it got really bad, in the beginning, when I had just turned 21 and could buy alcohol by my own, I would have only one glass of wine in the evenings with my college roommates before bed. Normal, right? Lots of people do that. I felt so adult and cool, like a real grownup, coming home from school, and eventually from work, and having a glass of wine to relax.

But soon one glass wasn’t enough, and there were no college roommates to drink within my studio. The warm, tingly feeling just wouldn’t come, so I had to drink two, then three. Soon it was a whole bottle every night, then two. Then I started supplementing it with liquor so I could get REALLY buzzed. And I started drinking at times other than at night. I thought, why not? It just made everything better and easier, so why not have that feeling at different times than just before going to sleep at night? I sought to go out with friends long boozy lunches on the weekends, where I would have already had a few drinks before meeting them, and continue drinking on my own after we parted. But they never knew that, and I could tell myself, see, everyone drinks during the day, everyone loves drinking, it’s perfectly normal; I’m an adult, I deserve to let loose once in a while.

If only it was “just one glass,” and if only it was “once in a while.”