156 • pearls around the neck
It was the day after I tried to fall asleep. Forever. Obviously I hadn’t succeeded. Damn it. Yesterday it
was “do or die”. Today I was just left with “do”.
For all intents and purposes, it was an ordinary day. No holidays in sight. When the sun came up, I
asked my husband to take me to the hospital. After all, that was my backup plan if I didn’t fall asleep.
Forever. On this particular morning, for the first time, it seemed possible to stick with the plan. Usually
I don’t. Usually I make new plans. Or are they scams? A scam for tomorrow because tomorrow will be
different. I just know, tomorrow will be different. But this day actually is different. This day I am going
to the hospital and my husband will take me. I know he will because he is a good man. A kind man.
I can’t stand him. But I can’t stand myself either. I’m so sick. I’m so tired. And I’m sick and tired of
being sick and tired. Won’t you please take me to the hospital, honey? I am so sick. So tired.
The doctor says I should be dead. I ask him what I did wrong: how could I still be alive! I don’t
remember his response. It’s hard to remember details when you’re so drunk. It’s even more difficult
to remember fourteen years later but I’ve been taught I must remember my last drunk like it was
yesterday. I do not want to go back to that time in my life, so I try to remember the best I can.
All those years “partying,” they were such a waste, really. Of course, in the beginning it was
wonderfully fun; exciting, pleasurable and soooooooo soothing. That first glass of wine after a long day
was always the best glass. It was life! It was wisdom. I could feel it trickle down my emptiness cascading
like a slow moving river. And the effect it had on my overly active mind was a godsend! That never
ending chattering in between my two ears would slow down to join the ever-flowing river and bathe
me in my sorrow. By the second or third glass the tears, if they came, would cleanse me, release me
from my self-imprisonment. Poor me. Poor, poor me. Pour me another drink!
Usually my drinking was fairly uneventful. At least in the beginning...
But it wasn’t the beginning anymore. It was the end. I never really wanted it to end. I wanted to drink
like a lady. I tried every method known to woman to control my drinking. Sometimes I was actually
successful. For a day or two or a week or so. Usually I wasn’t.
Little did I understand on that fateful afternoon while making phone calls to rehab centers that in
reality it was the beginning. Not the end. I could not have possibly understood on that day that my life
was just starting. For an alcoholic, it’s impossible to understand there is life after drinking, yet alone a
full life! One bursting with love, mystery, joy and pain. It’s not perfect. But it is perfectly possible-to
get sober on an ordinary day.
California, USA, 2006
Illustration: Ogino Shouta