There has always been a romanticism surrounding alcohol for me. There was, at all points in my drinking career, a sense of sophistication and “adult-ness” of drinking. There was that cabinet by the dining room table that only the grown-ups could open. Deep conversations and slapping of backs came when you opened up those clear bottles. People seemed to slip into a new coat, at ease with their surrounding and that much more witty, charming and intelligent. And certainly there was that lovely stemware to be used. I never drank juice out of those. Those glasses were for the sophisticated crowd. I wanted to be in that crowd. As a lonely guy, I just wanted to be in any crowd, period.
So it was easily put into my mind that alcohol was a the way to achieve a certain level of quality – quality of mind, quality of emotion, quality of class. I need not sit at the children’s table of life any more. I remember when I was younger, being kicked out of the adult section of the local library. I found the books there a lot more interesting, even if their advanced language flummoxed me at times. But I wasn’t allowed to be there. I was in that gray zone of being past the young people’s section and the revered upstairs adult shelves. A gray middle…vague in nature. That is how I felt most of life. I very much wanted an adult life. Alcohol gave me that immediate adult life, without the part of actually growing up. Instant cache.
And that is what I chased all my life – that feeling of being someone beyond myself, but to be myself. I felt like my own understudy, yearning to be front and center, yet not having the chance to take it. My alcoholism was in many ways driven by this desire for finding somewhere soft to land that wasn’t me. It was like I was trying to shake my own life off of me.
My alcoholism was like Mr. Roarke – inviting, open, friendly, always wearing a cheerful smile. My ego was like Tattoo – sidekick extraordinaire and always by Mr. Roarke’s side, doing the dirty work. My alcoholism had always been a genius at concocting the perfect blend of fantasy for me – a pound of delusion here, a cup of deceit, a few tablespoons of dare and heaps of empty promises. My alcoholism could transport me to a place where all my wishes and desires can seemingly come true. My alcoholism was always waiting by the side, trying to interlace it’s wants into my wants, fiction into fact, fantasy into reality.
My alcoholism wanted me dead – even now.
My early drinking was a take-it-or-leave it kind of thing. For about two whole years, I didn’t care so much if I had an adult beverage in front of me or not. I could have had a root beer and been just as content as I would a pint of ale. But at some point, something switched over. Something changed. The gentle coaxing whispers of alcohol started to allure me, started to enliven my feelings of low self-worth of low self-respect. I felt wanted. I felt the flutter of aliveness awakening within me, the doomsday dearth over my head shifting and molting into a tropical isle of serenity. I could finally be and not fight myself and who I thought I was. It was like getting off that water taxi and being greeted by well dressed gentlemen who embraced me and told me that everything was going to finally be ok.
I believed it all.
Alcohol did for me what I couldn’t do for myself – it made me believe in myself, made me taller, gave me wings, put me up there with other, made my insides feel like how others looked on the outside, transformed me into a man. I didn’t have to cower at my own shadow, bow before you or coddle my seemingly silly dreams. I could live. I could come out and play. I could look you straight in the eye and feel for once, that you didn’t hate me or that I didn’t hate me. Courage, strength, confidence….all in spades – I could even lend you some, if you asked. I had arrived.