The World of Franyo 77: How to Stop Drinking 101 (Not)

 

One way I tried to stop drinking was to have no booze in the house. Seems like a no brainer, right? Except that inexorably the craving for alcohol would set in and, unable to combat it, I’d tell myself it was ok to go to the bar down the street for just one (or two) drinks. How to describe that craving? A burning, unstoppable, devouring need right at the core of my being. Physically it felt like it started at the solar plexus, a sucker-punch of desire that moved up the alimentary tract to the throat and radiated out to every organ, nerve cell and fiber of the body. There was no fighting it, no way out, no way to win. And so I’d put Jofka to bed, sweating the minutes till she was asleep and I could hightail it out of there, locking the door behind me. Not great maternal behavior, I know, but all I could hear was the roar of alcoholic compulsion like a helicopter about to land on my head.

 

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mayhemandmuse.com

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Here were my rationalizations for leaving Jofka alone : 1) we lived in a doorman building, so she was safe 2) I’d only be gone a few minutes 3) I left the phone in her room with the number of the bar on a notepad beside it in case of emergencies 4) at seven, she was old enough to be by herself for awhile.

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Jofka

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Arrived at the bar, I’d toss back drink #1 — no ladylike sipping for me. And then … well, I was already there, and beginning to feel centered and quite good because of the tingle of alcohol spreading through my system, so I’d quickly have drink #2. With that second drink, I’d hang my purse over the back of the bar stool, slip off my coat if I was wearing one, take out my cigarettes and settle in. Things would begin to darken. People around me blurred as I downed drinks #3 and #4. Memory became intermittent. By drink #5 I was no longer Nicole, but some crazy, shrill-voiced, over-the-top female braying her secrets to the person next to her, ready to dance on the bar or run off with a stranger, leaning in too close, speaking too loudly, spilling liquor as she raised her glass to her blabby lips or fumbled for a cigarette.

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boredandthebeautiful.blogspot.com

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I don’t need to tell you that executive function was gone by then, along with any sense of danger. Perhaps this was the gal I always wanted to be: brazen and outspoken rather than introverted, shy, timid, demure. By the time I headed home I was in full blackout mode, unable to complete thoughts, or take responsibility for actions. That I even knew where I was going was a miracle. The doorman would have to ride up the elevator with me and unlock the door as my fingers were incapable of managing the keys. Once inside the apartment, the world went completely dark, and the next thing I knew it was morning and my seven-year-old daughter was trying to shake me awake and my liquor-saturated body felt as if it had been run over by a truck. I could’ve committed a murder the night before and wouldn’t have remembered it.

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www.nytimes.com

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And so began another twelve hours of trying to restore my body, care for my child, write a coherent sentence before the compulsion to drink set in again. Needless to say the no-booze-in-the-house method of giving up alcohol didn’t work. Nor did drinking only on weekends or white-knuckling it. As for AA, I’d been to a meeting a few years before when I lived in Cambridge, and that didn’t seem like an option (it was a meeting for gay men, not a group I could relate to, so duh). I sensed that somewhere in my head was a switch I could flick to make it all stop … I just couldn’t find it.

 

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www.newsweek.com

 

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To be continued…

(Cover photo ~ www.paperhi.com)

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