Alcoholism at 4am

This is a previously published essay by Light Hustler, which can be found on Medium.com, along with other writings of mine by searching Emily Redondo.

4:09 am. I stare at the clock. Wide awake but paralyzed, I just lay there waiting because I know what’s coming. It’s that alcoholic insomnia. What is it about the 4 o’clock hour that calls my little demons out to haunt me?

As those awful thoughts start to crawl into my mind, a cool sweat starts to cover my skin and my heart starts to race. I know what this body needs, and I don’t want to have to do this.

I’m on a runaway train, aren’t I?

My legs lay still but aching. Slowly I lift my hand and touch my own cheek. With my eyes closed, I feel the hotness—the dry, neglected skin that was once a platform for big smiles and vivid eyes. And my mind starts to race back to old times and better days. What happened to me? Where did I go?

Flashes of the past five months flicker across my conscience like a slide show until I have to turn it off, shut it down, shut it up. It’s too much for me to think about anything other than not losing my fucking mind and dying right now. It seems like that’s happening on nights like this.

This is the simple will to live, to function like a regular human being. Gone are the days of getting a nice, warm buzz. I just want to get back to zero.

My head feels like its tied down through my pillow and into the mattress. I have to somehow silently get out of this bed and make it into the closet across the room without waking him up.

Slowly I start to roll out of bed and tip toe through the darkness. I make it there. Quietly I breathe and walk the steps to where my husband’s suit coats are hanging. I have little cardboard style wines in the pockets, the size of dairy section half-n-half.

With shaking hands, I start reaching in, hoping to find one close to full, but I know my stash is almost gone. In the first pocket, I lift the first one. Empty. In the next pocket, there’s a couple of sips left, so I twist the top off and drink it, then put it back.

Next pocket, last chance. It’s only about a quarter full. That’s never going to be enough, but I drink it. I stand there, racking my brain. Where’s more? I’m screwed if this is all there is in the house. My body will start to withdrawal into hyper-drive soon.

This isn’t enough, and I don’t know how long it will be until I can get more. I’m in a complete panic. I sneak out of the bedroom to explore other options as I try to think about the last couple of days and anywhere else I may have hidden some wine. This trembling in my joints is not a good sign, nor is the subtle ringing in my ears. This is fucking survival mode. This is the simple will to live, to function like a regular human being. Gone are the days of getting a nice, warm buzz. I just want to get back to zero.

Down in the garage I have a hidden garbage bag of those same cardboard wines. I fumble through them quickly, desperately. As expected they are all empty, some with lingering sips in the bottom. I’m running out of time, and I feel the weight of that clock on my shoulders because any minute he’ll notice I’m gone. With unsteady hands, I take them all out, 15 of them.

One by one, I pour the last remaining drops into the bottle I’m holding. Over and over I do this, until they are absolutely dry to the bone and back in the garbage bag, neatly tucked back in the hiding spot. I get maybe four solid swallows out of that whole ordeal. With a sigh that speaks of both disgust and fear, I make the walk of shame back upstairs, tiptoe into bed, and lay there, wide awake.

Sometimes I think we get so far into the mouth of the beast we forget where we are. We lose touch with reality in order to simply function.

I don’t think about the kids sleeping soundly in their beds, nor do I think about the man lying next to me. I can’t. I fucking can’t. Not right now. I can’t even think about telling anyone what’s going on or the impending doom that surely awaits me.

Maybe I’ll say something once I get through this worst withdrawal, when I can ween my way out of this nightmare. If I open my mouth now, they’ll know how bad it is, and I’m not ready for that. So I think about things like my heart beat.

Is it there?

I think about the chill that keeps running through me. Did I drink enough to help?

And the clamminess of my skin. And the fact that I have to get up now in an hour and 15 minutes and muster up some sort of strength to fake out the family. I’ve become a maintenance thinker. It’s all I can do, all I can handle. And when I get a chance, I will surely be back at it again. Because my solution right now, mixed in with the torturous effects of what alcohol has done physically to my body and my soul, is another bottle, another drink.

Either I don’t see the twisted insanity of this disease, or I choose to ignore it right now. Probably both. Sometimes I think we get so far into the mouth of the beast we forget where we are. We lose touch with reality in order to simply function. Alcohol has become, for my body, as necessary as the air in my lungs. I must have it or face serious, possibly fatal repercussions. I’m a fucking slave right now.

So, no, I’m not thinking about my kids, or my husband, or you, or anybody else. I’m way past that point. I’m laying here with just enough left inside to keep living and breathing. And I’m so fucked up in the head I think I can dig myself out of this. By tapering off the wine. We really are as sick as our secrets. But I’m keeping this one.

I’ll never tell a soul about tonight.