In twelve-step recovery they say the only drink you need to remember is your last, and they say it’s not so much the drink you need to remember as the drunk. My last drunk before getting sober was January 29, 2016. Five years ago today was just another night. I’d just won a big case at work, the biggest case of my career, maybe my life–an asylum petition on behalf of a Cameroonian refugee. I’d just sent my husband out the door to see Josh Ritter at the Riviera by himself because I hadn’t had it in me to find a babysitter. I’d just put my kid to bed so I could get down to the business of drinking as much as I could before my husband got home and gave me side eyes. He knew I’d been worried about my drinking for a long time. I didn’t know the four beers high ABV beers I downed on an empty stomach would get me so drunk. I didn’t know I’d spend the night texting coworkers and tracking down exes on social media. I didn’t know the last bottle I cracked after midnight when my husband got home would be my last. I didn’t know I’d lose control of my limbs and knock the enamel camping mug my husband picked up at the merch table flying across the kitchen. I didn’t know I’d stumble in the bathroom and drop a glass in the sink. I didn’t know that the room would spin so fast, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, not a wink, that I’d move from the bedroom to the couch so my husband wouldn’t find out. I didn’t know I’d spend the next day with my head in the toilet, rolling around in bed, hiding from my child, wanting to die. I didn’t know that after thirteen years of of wrestling this particular demon I’d wake up one day just *done*.
That was my last drunk before getting sober but it wasn’t my last drunk. I got drunk again on January 3, 2021, less than a month shy of what would have been my fifth anniversary in sobriety. What can I say? I was cooking Mexican food and I wanted to drink a Mexican beer but we didn’t have any, so I dug up a bottle of mezcal in the garage. It was like finding water in the desert and I drank like it was water, too. What can I say? I loved it. I’m not always a happy drunk, but I was that night, and I love that version of myself. I love sweeping around the house and laughing too loud and lavishing love on my family and not looking at the clock. I didn’t love keeping it a secret. I didn’t love when the alcohol wore off. I didn’t love waking up in the middle of the night, heart racing, mind reeling, thinking what the *fuck* did I just do. I didn’t love the shame spiral the next day. I wanted to get drunk again but I didn’t love thinking I had no choice in the matter.
In twelve-step recovery they say there are only two options: accept a spiritual solution and live or die an alcoholic death. They say to drink is to die but I’d I believed that I’d have no choice but to be drinking myself to death right now. I drank and I’m not dead. I drank and I feel free. Tomorrow is not my five-year anniversary, and I might have a beer to honor what didn’t come to pass, but tonight I’m going to bed sober and tomorrow morning I’ll wake up sane. That’s one thing that never did get old.