on substance abuse: “after the nightmare”

rive t 2

word by Leah Mol

colour by Stephanie Rivet 

I used to have nightmares. The kind of nightmares you never really wake up from. The kind where you think you’re finally awake and then everything starts to melt. I started seeing a psychiatrist who asked me about work and relationships and my parents. I work a lot, I don’t have relationships, and my parents are divorced, which is just more work. The psychiatrist told me Relax, take a bath, have a glass of wine. I tried baths, but my nightmares were flooded. I spent my nights trudging through basements filled with water, swimming towards nothing at all, and I woke up soaked. The wine worked, so I don’t see the psychiatrist anymore.

The first night I drank, I finished two glasses and then passed out on the couch. I woke up with a headache and the vague feeling that I’d dreamed something terrible. But I couldn’t remember what terrible thing it was. The next night, I managed three glasses.

Now when I get home from work, I pull a bottle of wine from my purse and drink a glass while standing at the kitchen counter. The tile floor is cold on my bare feet, even in the summer. I refill the glass, leave my clothes in a pile, and shower until I’m done the second glass, which is when I stop thinking so much.

I grab the bottle of wine and place it beside my bed with my glass. I put on yoga pants and a sweatshirt many sizes too big, forgotten by someone I think I almost had a relationship with. I open Netflix and I watch a documentary about Mount Everest or a comedy about women who don’t know what they want.

I think about dinner but I’m not hungry for food.

I fall asleep quickly and I don’t dream about anything at all. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll know I’m awake and alive and I won’t be thinking about all the ways everything is horrible. I’ll think about drinking instead.





From the author: “This piece reminded me of these old drinking and driving commercials, where everything gets blurry as more and more glasses are placed in front of the driver. I think that’s such a perfect metaphor for addiction. Even as everything gets blurry— and often because everything is getting blurry—you keep going. And then finally, inevitably, you crash, but that can take forever.”

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