The Moment I Fell Into the Abyss

The descent into alcoholism is like a downward spiral into a black abyss. It can happen quickly for some, and more slowly for others. For me, I would say it developed slowly, then snowballed into a monster that rapidly took over towards the end. By the end, I mean my rock bottom; the horrible place I had to reach to realize that my drinking wasn’t normal, and I wasn’t okay. I needed help.

I described in my last post a little about how I would meet friends early in the day on weekends for breakfast or lunch so we could drink together. This normalized my drinking for me, gave me an excuse to start drinking earlier in the day, and allowed me to get a good buzz on before I would go home and continue my little party of one on my own for the rest of the weekend. Anyway, if friends wanted to get to bars or clubs in the evening, I couldn’t go, because by then I was already wasted, but they didn’t know that. They just thought I didn’t like to stay up late, or maybe they even thought I wasn’t that big of a drinker (ha!).

Until they started noticing.

It started small, with friends raising their eyebrows as I called for another mimosa, with them saying, “No more for me, or I’ll fall asleep at the table!” Then the lighthearted comments became more serious. “Don’t you have work tomorrow?” they’d ask accusatorily as I ordered more and more drinks on a Sunday. The day I hit rock bottom, my friend definitely noticed.

It was a Sunday, and I was out to brunch with my friend Kate. Kate was a teacher also, at a high school in the same district. She had made little comments before about my drinking but had never confronted me outright about it. We had gone to an Italian restaurant I had picked, choosing it specifically for the bottomless bellini bar.

I showed up looking a little worse for wear; I’d drank a lot, even by my standards, the night before. Saturdays were my favorite because I could sleep late, start drinking early, and be as wasted as I wanted all day, holed up in my little apartment with my dog, without the hindrance of work or the usual weekday responsibilities to keep me from my inebriated state of bliss. That Saturday, as usual, I’d started drinking first thing in the morning until late at night, and woke up with a vicious hangover. Mixing liquor and wine was not without its consequences, but I was used to always waking up with a headache by this point. I had made myself a Bloody Mary or three at home before meeting Kate, a little hair of the dog to make a pounding headache and nausea abate.

After Kate stood up to greet me with a hug at the restaurant, she leaned back to look at me and said, “Woof! Did you go out last night? Girlfriend, I can smell the booze on you!”

I laughed it off and made up a quick lie about going to a party the night before. No, I hadn’t gone out, but yes, I’d been drinking last night, and the night before that, and the night before that. And I was going to drink now, and I was going to drink later, and that was my way of life.