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When Self-Destruction is an Old Friend

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The apartment bathroom was dim – slivers of light peeking in from the scummy shower window. A mess of bottles littered the room, covering the floor and the counter and the bottom of the tub. He was wearing a holey t-shirt that looked like it had been white in another life, but had long since faded to a grimy yellow. His bare legs were sprawled across the cold tile floor. The man laid on a bed of broken glass and soaking towels, but it felt like a California King to him. He had just awoken from the fourth night of this pathetic binge from which he couldn’t seem to save himself.

“I have surpassed the infamous hangovers. You know, the splitting headaches, fatigue, unquenchable thirst, vomiting. Actually, I do still vomit, but these days it happens when I think about my life – the alcohol has nothing to do with it. I have surpassed the infamous hangovers because it is difficult to acquire a hangover when you never stop imbibing. They tell me I’m an addict; I don’t disagree. They tell me I need help; I can’t disagree. But help from who exactly? I’ve been to those meetings in damp church basements. Two hours feels very long when you’re surrounded by people you either fear or pity or hate and I spent more time deliberating how much asbestos was entering my lungs with every passing moment than I did anything else. ‘Hi, I’m an alcoholic.’ No s***. Twelve steps? These days, I can hardly take two with my own feet. I am weak. I am powerless. I am selfish. I look in the mirror and I see my father. I hate my father. I am my father. I lost my job a few months back, but I never stopped answering to an authority figure. However, this boss wears a glossy label instead of a fancy suit and the only tie around my neck lately is the noose that I put there myself, growing tighter with each sip. I am locked in a jail cell and the warden is a bottle, dangling the key in front of me before spitting in my face and tossing it aside. I stopped existing long ago. The alcohol lives my life for me now – if you can even consider this (he gestures around the unkempt room) living. It feels more like dying from where I sit. Slow. Gruelling. I know I need to change, but the liquor has found companionship in my bloodstream – who am I to break that bond? The pastor said, 'Speak now or forever hold your peace," and I found myself remaining silent, watching helplessly as I became eternally bound to my cravings. Instead of a ring on my finger, I felt the cold metal of a handcuff being slid onto my wrist and I've been trapped ever since. Addiction crept up on me like a stranger with a familiar face; I didn’t even see it until its hands were around my neck, squeezing. It feeds on every ounce of strength that it can possibly suck from my body and its appetite is never satisfied. It’s a part of me, more than my hands or my teeth or my fingernails and I hate that. (growing angrier) I hate that I let it get this far. I hate how bottles have replaced best friends and little sisters. I hate the way it feels, how it doesn’t even burn anymore. It’s just numb. (becoming quiet; defeated) I hate how the world looks the most clear to me when my vision is blurry. I’ve reached my breaking point before, but it has never felt so final. This is not a mere crack or a chip in my exterior. This is shattered into a million pieces. (he whips a bottle into the shower and it smashes; he sighs) This is broken, alright. (he lifts another bottle to his lips and takes a long drink) And I’m not sure I will ever have the power to put myself back together.”




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