Chicago, IL

THUNK!

Sherry McGuinn

That's the sound of me falling off the wagon.

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I was doing so well. For about three weeks. No booze, just my Margarita mocktail. A concoction of my own design. Every night. And I was digging the “new me.”

And then, as has happened in the past, as soon as my body adjusted to the new regime, as soon as I started feeling good — too good apparently — things went all to hell.

I started drinking again. Slowly, cautiously. A little wine topped off with water. The occasional sip of my husband’s occasional gin. And then more wine, more gin, and just like that, I’d lost all the traction I’d gained. I told myself that even though I was back on the sauce, still, I was “doing better.”

And two nights ago, after wine only, but schooners of it, the Witch came out. And of course, my poor husband paid the price. To compound the “fun,” both of us were awake most of the night. He has insomnia, and because I was lit, I forgot to take my sleep meds and that, in conjunction with all the wine I’d drunk, made for hour after endless hour of misery.

The wee hours can be hella scary, you know?

At one point, I went into the basement and rewatched the documentary Laurel Canyon. Once again, I was struck by the genius of musicians like Stephen Stills and Graham Nash and Joanie Mitchell. But still, I felt like shit, and as has happened too many times lately, I realized I had “lost” much of what went on earlier in the evening.

But I knew. I knew.

After Laurel Canyon, I gave “guided sleep” a shot on YouTube. It failed miserably as I could not concentrate on the almost eerie narration by the somnolent “guide” who was a hell of a lot more relaxed than I was, and, with our three cats clustered around me, I laid there like a corpse on the couch, my mind racing. Scrabbling to remember what I’d said and done.

That “guided” stuff never has worked with me. I can’t meditate to save my life. I wish I could as perhaps I wouldn’t be back in the shit. Perhaps I’d be a calmer, less anxious person but I can’t seem to turn off my brain. It has a metabolism all its own. And it fires like a son of a gun.

When I finally crawled back into bed, my husband was, naturally, awake. He told me some of the things I’d said and literally, I wanted to die right then and there. The guilt was and is, crushing.

Yet he always forgives me. He’s a better person than I am.

I’m no kid so this affinity for the juice will eventually take its toll on me if I don’t get a handle on it. As I’ve said in a related story, I’m not sure I want to quit drinking entirely. I do today. I will tomorrow and hopefully, the next day. But “forever?”

But the reality is, I’d be a much better and healthier person for it. I’m not copping a plea here by any means but this fucking virus and the resulting quarantine and unrelenting doom and gloom is crushing us. This ain’t The Days of Wine and Roses, folks. It’s more like The Days of Shit and More Shit. For all of us. With that though, if I’m going to make it through to the other side with my head on straight, I need to get a grip.

The thing is, you would probably never know I have such “issues” as I am a quick-change artist who can flip flop with the best of them. From “off” to “on” with the flash of a grin. Too, I’m adept at functioning at a high level. That’s because my drive often gets in the way of my brain. I keep slogging through even when I can use a serious break.

It makes me wonder what I could achieve if I never experienced another “morning after.”

I’m wondering how many people here, who are facing similar challenges, have a habit of beating themselves up over past mistakes. I’ve become an expert at it and I think that self-flagellation fuels my issues with alcohol. But it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

We screw up. We hate ourselves for it and then we use that self-hatred and disgust as an excuse to screw up some more. How convenient!

Are we masochists? Is that it? Why would we knowingly and routinely do something that we know is wrong for us, that we know will ultimately hurt us in the end, as well as those we love, yet we keep at it? Does it feel that good?

If for nothing else, one person here can relate and realize that it’s not their fault, I’ll feel justified in spilling my guts.

As I’ve explained in the past, I have the “gene,” which one would think would incite vigilance instead of asinine behavior, yet I feel myself trudging in the footsteps of my parents and I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen.

I will do my best to keep that from happening.

I’m constantly amazed by the fact that while some people can find solace and comfort in a bottle of vodka, others can dive into a bag of Doritos and “poof!” the pain disappears.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. But, today is a new day. Even in the midst of a pandemic.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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Chicago, IL
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