There you lay, a shadow of your former self, Emaciated and frail. Your eyes once so full of life sit dark and heavy, a vacancy to them and showing the world your sadness. Your cheeks are sunken and your skin falls loose, bruises cover your weakened frame and the lack of hope radiates from you.
You sob as I reach for you, the slightest touch feels like a warmth you don’t deserve. Filled with shame and regret, gripped by fear and denial. The heavy smell of decay looms over you like a vulture waiting for its prey to give up the fight, you lay still and wait for the release to come but it never does.
You reach out for the one thing that brings you some comfort, the sensation of the cold glass of the bottle brings you relief, you know it won’t be long before the wave of warmth engulfs you from within. You put the bottle to your mouth and gulp down the liquid, harsh and biting on your throat, but the pain is welcomed, it makes you feel something. As the burning of the alcohol reaches your stomach, you feel like you can breathe again. Like you’ve had your head under water for too long and you’ve craved for this relief. You take another gulp, and another. Your ears ring, your head feels heavy but it’s pleasant. The shame starts to become a distant memory and you slip silently into the abyss.
If anyone knew just how hard it was for you not to drink, they’d never try to stop you. If they just understood how painful life is without the sweet release of oblivion, they wouldn’t try to get you sober. You need the poison now like you need air. Eating is a chore, you no longer care for nourishment, you no longer care about keeping clean. Your only thought is how you will get your next drink, unable to walk far you feel that dread and panic sweep over you. The bottle is almost empty and it won’t be long before your body punishes you for the lack of poison.
You drag yourself up, you can’t look in the mirror, it’s been so long since you have, that’s a reality you just can’t face. Grabbing your car keys, you know you need your medicine. Your car is 10 steps from your door yet it feels like a million miles away, your feet hurt and every step is like walking on glass, your legs can barely hold you despite your now tiny frame, but if you can just make it to the car you know you’ll be ok.
You turn on the engine, the car groans around you, the humming from the engine hurts your head, but you have to find the strength to get more alcohol. Closing one eye to focus, you begin the slow drive to the shop. All the way there you pray you don’t hit anything, or worse, break down. Your mind is now fully taken over by the craving for more alcohol and it’s driving you there on autopilot. It’s the only time you feel any motivation.
You wake up, it’s dark, the feint smell of alcohol and stale smoke wafts in the air. You tentatively open one eye and to your relief you are home. You can’t remember getting back home or even getting more alcohol. But the half full bottle of gin that lays like a temptress begging you to taste it lies next to you. You pick it up and gulp down some more. Calmness washes over you once again. You can breathe again.
Bedtime is a distant memory, you no longer have any sense of time and you have no structure to your life. The pictures of your once happy life hang lonely on the wall collecting dust. The pictures are fading away, reflecting back your own demise. The happy faces of the children you shared a home with peek out behind the picture glass, and it feels like they are taunting you. They represent everything you lost. You no longer crave to see your child, you know her seeing you is detrimental to her, so you willingly give up your parental rights. Plunging you deeper into the void of despair and loneliness. Occasionally you’ll hear her little voice, and feel her tiny hand on your chest. She loves you unconditionally but the pain in her eyes from seeing you so weak is too much for you to bare. She’s a reminder of what you have become, of how your life has changed. Her mere presence make you feel like a failure. You sink deeper into the void of depression and helplessness.
I shake you awake, hand under your nose to check you’re breathing, you remind me of my father in his last days, a waxy texture to your skin, cheeks have no volume to them, where they once sat is now a sharp bone abd a deep scar. I sit beside you racked with sadness and guilt, you reach out to hold my hands, your eyes can’t stop the tears from falling, then you tell me you’re in control. The words are like a knife to my heart. The world around you can see you have given up, I can see you’re defeated but your love affair with the bottle is so intense you can’t give it up. It’s the only thing you have left.
I feel like I’m saying my last goodbyes, as I get up to leave you ask me to stay, just a little longer, but I’ve endured all that I can take. I know that I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but care, what was once so full of life is barely even there. A shadow of your former self is too much for me to see, because the reality of it is-that could have been me.