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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Small Pre-Break Thought

Very recently I’ve been dwelling over the effects of alcohol intake. I don’t mean the campus cliché of observing the “shockingly vast” or “deceivingly low” level of consumption among college students that are plastered (no pun intended) all over “HeadsUp!” posters- because, to be blunt, I could hardly give a damn about comparing drinking habits with others. Nor am I necessarily concentrating on alcoholism (although I suppose it could be viewed from this angle). Really, I’ve been reflecting on alcohol use simply in terms of its role in my own life. A new consideration which, I’ll admit, is the result of a series of unfavorable alcohol-induced occurrences.
` I’m all too familiar to waking with the splitting head and random bruises feeling- I think many early 20s can relate. We pull ourselves up, groggily carry our idling bodies to the kitchen, drink two glasses of water, consider the sequence of the prior night’s events, refill our water, drink two more glasses, attempt to reconstruct the sequence again, and crash back in bed. It’s all part of the crappy “next morning” routine, and we get it. But what used to be an innocent and (grudgingly) anticipated result of weekend drinking has manifested into an ugly, ever-increasing routine for me.
The other day I found myself in my (thank god) bed at 2pm, feeling nauseous and lethargic. My body, curled into a ball, was inexplicably bare and my vocal chords were throbbing. I kept thinking, “What happened? What happened?” I hadn’t been at a concert or any other venue where I could’ve managed screaming, I hadn’t driven anywhere, I hadn’t said goodbye to my friends… I really couldn’t remember anything past a certain point.
This- waking with no absolute memories- in my experience is rare, and it made me nervous. I’ve never been what I suppose many would consider a “lightweight” when it comes to alcohol. If I say so myself, I tend to maintain an awareness of how much food (stomach coating) I’ve consumed, my level of hydration, and my overall limit (which with the years has undoubtedly increased) while drinking. But in late I’ve noticed a dip in the usual cycle, and it didn’t take this rarely occurring ‘blackout’ to get to me. The ever-increasing hangovers and lack of memory have been a consistent transition, a downward spiral in the pattern of a habit that was once controlled. When I go through my closet and notice generous amounts of missing sweatshirts and broken sandals, I know. When I observe cigarette burns in the upholstery of my driver’s seat accented nicely by the abandoned litter of folks who I would not, in my right mind, have let anywhere near my car, I know. But, in the grand tradition of embracing bad habits, excuses prove all too tempting. “If I don’t have a little fun now, how will I have it later in the work world?” “It was an experience, so I don’t take it back” “It’s just one night of fun out of your entire life! Embrace it!” But it’s not just one night. Or even two or five or eight. For some, it’s really a lifestyle; a lifestyle that, as many could predict, develops most often without notice.
I have talked with friends about this. Several have gotten to this point with alcohol, several haven’t, but all can agree that alcohol has the potential to dramatically enhance or dampen any occasion, the latter being the most frequent. “There’s no problem a drink can’t make worse”. I am tired of looking forward to a decent night with my significant other and letting cravings for alcohol ruin our ambitions. A few shots and suddenly the minutia of the world’s problems are brought to the surface, screaming, screaming, screaming over petty crises. Or perhaps we plan to meet with a friend to go out, but a little Petron down the hatch and they’re on the couch, passed out. Or maybe we made it to the club but, at a point, we’ll likely be outside, hanging over our huddled friend, holding their hair back as we sheepishly wave to disgusted passersby. I am sick of it! I have grown wary of my neighbors’ all-too-explicit drunken arguments, sloppy curse words and echoes of slaps compelling all in my building to call the cops. I am tired of chugging liquor to relax and consequently achieving the opposite effect, wondering all the next morning what I could have said to upset this person or that. Why is the irony of alcohol so much more painful than others? We drink to get closer, but we numb out. We drink to decrease stress, but we end up gaining twice of what we originally suffered. It’s EVIL!
No, I’m not saying I hate alcohol (really!) I think pretty much all of us have observed, at times, that we or others will gravitate toward these patterns. This isn’t some astonishing discovery, it’s just the way it is. I’m just sick of having to pay for drinking so consistently. Where do I draw the line? Where do we draw the line? How much is too much? Think about it y’all. Thanks for letting me vent here, needed to get this thought out, however sloppy.

Alison M


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