How I knew what I knew
The small stuff
I sat in the cold, stale air watching my breath fog the windshield I glared out of. Angrily, I clenched my cell phone, ready to crush it if it would. I could hear the shrieks of my grinding teeth as I desperately tried not to smash out another windshield in my frustration. I was pissed.
As it was, I was borrowing the vehicle. Borrowing. Or I should rephrase that: I took it. I should have just dumped the piece of shit off and did myself, as well as the owner, a favor. It was a freezing cold day, the heater didn’t work, and the only reason I was using his car was because he had gone joyriding in my car, hitting a curb and destroying the front end of it.
But that was just something I dealt with. Things like that had, unfortunately, become the norm; my shit gets broken, I replace it, and they fuck it up again. Or something else. Either way, I at least had a ride to and from my job, some twenty miles apart from where I lived.
It wasn’t the fact that I had a bad day at work, either. Back then, work was like that daily. I had finally become used to being unappreciated and given too many projects to accomplish in a timely manner. The lack of respect and dignity had all but diminished in light of the issues that had flared up throughout the last couple of years.
No, it was none of those things that set me off this time. All of that was expected, I knew it was coming on some level. Those were things I could deal with. I had even grown used to the Three O’Clock Shakes by now. The incessant, internal quaking that was guaranteed to hit on a daily basis, like clockwork that was slowly speeding up over the years; where it was once the Six O’Clock Shakes, it had gradually shifted.
It was the phone call. Or, more precisely, the end of the phone call, that set me off.
And then she said, "... ... ... ... ... ... ..."
“Hey, I’m on my way home now.”
“Good! Great! Can’t wait until you get home!”
I half-heartedly smiled at her response through my trembling lips. I couldn’t tell if the quaking was because of the cold, or (more likely) due to of the time of day, but what I did know is that it wasn't me she was looking forward to. “Do I need to stop off at the grocery store?”
“Well, ya. But this time get two of the bottles so we each have our own.” I could hear the hidden excitement in her words as she nonchalantly stated it. My shoulders slumped as my heart pulled them down. I had been preparing for this all day long – again – only more determined this time around.
“Ya – about that…” there was a dead silence on the other end. I immediately felt the energy change. I began to question if I really wanted to make this statement, but I couldn't hand the the aftermath anymore, both shortly after we began as well as the following day. With a deep, quivering sigh, I geared it up, and continued, “… I think we need to take a break from drinking. Tonight, I’m absolutely not going to get any alcohol, I’m calling it off.” Immediately my mind began screaming, “What are you doing?!" I actually did want a drink! I NEEDED a drink! I knew I would fall apart from the shaking if I didn't get my daily dose of vodka! But I couldn't just bring it home... no no no...
We sat in the continued silence. I could feel the heat radiate from the other end of the phone. After what felt like an eternity, she simply replied in a firm, threatening voice, “If you don’t bring it home, then don’t come home.”
She’d hung up on me.
The more I sat in the cold, the more furious I became. The more furious I became, the more I knew I needed that drink. The more I needed the drink, the more it seemed okay for just one more night. And this -- this was just my way of getting permission to buy it... by someone that wasn't me. She may have been angry, but there was no doubt that I didn't have to make the decision to bring it home. I was indeed a sneaky bastard.
And I knew.
I knew, yet I didn’t want to know. I knew that if I denied what was going on inside, that I would have to acknowledge what was there. And if I knew it was there then I would have a problem. But I can’t have the problem, I didn't have the problem. I mustn't have the problem. I was the hero, the protector of the home, the knight in shining armor, the one that kept the peace -- I was the one that kept it together! I was the rope that held everything.
So I out smarted it. I out smarted the problem, hands down -- I was superior to it. I ignored the denial. I ignored the knowledge. I ignored the fact that I refused to know. And to prove it, I let her win.
“Fine!” I screamed inside, “If you won’t just STOP, then I will show you! I will show you what it is like to live with a mean, heartless alcoholic! You will hate it, but you’ll be to blame!”
“I GIVE UP!” I yelled at the top of my lungs -- sitting in the car -- in the parking lot of the liquor store.
The liquor store? How'd I even get to the liquor store? I hadn’t realized that I'd even driven there, and yet, I was just suddenly there. This type of thing would later become a norm for me, just being there, or suddenly just having a bottle appear in my hand, with no recollection of how or when it got there...
But I did it. I had outsmarted the problem, because I didn’t deny it, so I didn’t acknowledge it, and therefore I had no problem... Right?
Instead, this would be the day I just gave up. An inevitable surrender, only in the wrong direction. This would be the beginning of knowing I knew what I knew, and it became a lot more obvious later on...
<to be continued>