I drink too much. How do I know I drink too much, you ask? Because I’m drinking as I type this. One hand on the keyboard, the other on a glass.
My drinking has never caused me to lose my home, my family, or my career, but I don’t have those things to lose in the first place. The argument could be made that I don’t have them because, instead, I have a drinking problem. A problem that, previous to (again, one-handedly) typing these words, I have chosen to ignore, and to make excuses for, for far too long.
I have one rule—I don’t start drinking until the sun goes down—which, for years, I’ve used as proof of my lack of a problem. (Note: Said rule is null and void whenever I am on anything remotely resembling a vacation.) Day in, day out, I pat myself on the back and admire my restraint while eagerly watching the sun wane in the distance. Assuming, of course, I’ve opened the curtains in my apartment enough to watch it.
Waiting until nightfall to make myself a cocktail, however, is an easily achievable goal when it takes all day to recover from the hell I put my body through the previous night.
It turns out having a bottle in front of me and a frontal lobotomy are essentially the same thing. Days bleed into one another, interchangeable in their banality. I wake up at noon, stumble around in a haze, stare at the comparatively happy lives of my more productive, well-adjusted friends as they play out on myriad social media sites, and slowly, methodically, drink coffee. So much coffee. The coffee is a necessity, its brown pallor echoing the bags I constantly have under my tired eyes. I live on borrowed time, operating under a foggy veil when the sun is at its peak and frantically rushing whenever I have to leave the confines of the glorified room I call an apartment. The ceaseless rush renders every situation, important or not, dire. I find myself, more and more, apologizing for my lateness, sending desperate texts at stoplights in between punching the dashboard in frustration. The traffic upsets me, sure, but I’m more upset with myself.
I’m upset that I’ve yet again stayed up, alone in my apartment, until the wee hours of the morning, watching music videos on YouTube I’ve seen a million times and sending embarrassing emails, which I type with one eye closed, the other bloodshot and squinting, because I can’t see straight. I rarely, if ever, reread these emails after I send them. I don’t want to know what’s in them.
My productivity suffers. I tell myself and everyone else within earshot that I have writer’s block, but the reality of the matter is that I have reality block. The idea of operating in an unaltered state terrifies me. I am afraid of the stark truths that come with complete and utter clarity. So I drink.
Sometimes a friend will tell me, wide-eyed and in a concerned tone, that they’ve been drinking too much—three, sometimes four, nights in a row. Depending on my level of intoxication, I’ll either feign concern or inform them I’ve drunk every night for nigh on a decade. Depending on their level of intoxication, they’ll either find this information amusing or depressing. Either way, I feel nothing. So I drink.
Moderation is not a word in my vocabulary. I drink until there is nothing left to drink, and then I often drink some more. I’m a liquids gal, not a solids gal. I can go for days without food in my apartment, subsisting on a dipping-sauce-based diet, perishing at the thought of existing in a dry household.
I, like many others, use social anxiety as an excuse for my constant intoxication. It’s easier to interact with the world through a filter, in much the same way it’s easier to post photographs of one’s self with a filter. Filters, after all, hide the flaws that lie beneath.
I perform standup comedy. Routinely, I do so in an altered state. As a comedian, often the only way in which one is compensated for one’s time is via drink tickets. As an insufferably cheap person, I find the idea of turning down something free unfathomable. I am not alone in this opinion. A fun game I internally play with my comedian friends is, “Which one of us will go to AA first?” We are all scared to admit defeat. We are scared to be the one who can’t handle it, who can’t hang, who’s the narc at the party. But surely, at some point, we must. The list of comedians who have aged out of alcoholism is longer than the sign up list at an open mic. Almost everyone I know over the age of 35 who does what I do has eventually dried out and resigned to the fate of being the sad soul at a show with a club soda in his or her hand. I suppose that means I have four good (and by good, I mean bad) drinking years left in me.
Y’know how alcohol ads always say “Drink Responsibly” at the bottom of them? I read that, mutter, under my breath, “Suggestion noted,” then proceed to get blotto beyond recognition, beyond cogency. Oftentimes I’ll walk somewhere if I know I’ll get fucked up. I plan my night around my drinking. Most of the time, it’s the only plan I make.
I suppose my drink of choice is bourbon, but I’m nondenominational. If it has an alcohol content of over zero percent, and is at least semi-palatable, I’ll drink it. I don’t know what good wine tastes like, but I do know what mediocre wine tastes like. Guess what? It tastes great.
I tell myself I cannot continue to live like this. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I know I will. Because the alternative is the unknown. The alternative is lack of complacency. I’ve been drinking so long, I know nothing else. My relationship with alcohol has gone on longer than most marriages—in a way, we are married. We are partners, unwilling to uncouple because we find comfort in our complacency. I want a divorce, badly. But I don’t want to be alone, either. So I drink.
Follow Megan Koester on Twitter.