One (More) Sip Won’t Kill Me!

I’m an alcoholic.

I acknowledge that, however, I’m sure one more sip won’t kill me.

Alcohol addiction is a bad thing, man. At the start, it feels like it’s helping you lose some of your trapping inhibitions before it kicks in for good and fucks you up completely.

It all begins on a Friday afternoon when you’re commuting back from the office. You’re shattered, you’re a social drinker so don’t really perceive alcohol as a relief, as an escape from a lousy week, day, moment, or whatever shit you’re going through. But it has been an awful week, you haven’t had that much food — almost any actually because of that obsession for weight control — and the weather is worryingly thunder-storming as if all the gods were channelling their fury into a ferocious war. It’s a real bloodshed out there!

Ok, so you get home right?! You don’t really feel like going out because you’re new to the city, you don’t have many friends or people you’d like to hang out with (loneliness level 100!!!), the weather, as said above, sucks monkey, donkey, junkie balls, and yeah screw it, I’m going to stay indoors. You need to relax and you could really use a glass of red wine, just one. ‘Come on, one sip won’t kill me!’ So you pour yourself a glass but a sip leads to another and another and another, and 15 minutes later you fill up a second glass, then a third, then a fourth, and the song you’re listening is so captivating it needs more drinking, so you’re about to kill the whole bottle.

Not a big deal though, one more sip won’t kill me.

You feel a little better, a little relieved…I mean, you know the feeling. It gets like you can see widely, that you could express yourself smoothly if given the opportunity; you stop overthinking, overreacting, over-feeling like a bonehead all the time. You feel so good you appreciate alcohol as an occasional cure, and even if you know you shouldn’t abuse, you’re going to have that wine or beer supply at home just in case. Just in case you need a sip…well, one more sip won’t kill me, right?

A couple of days later you come back from what was a dreadful Wednesday at the office and ask your housemate who, luckily or coincidentally, is off that afternoon too, to meet you at the local pub for a pint. Careful pal, it’s a weekday and you promised yourself you wouldn’t be drinking until the weekend and you plan to stick to it.

But then, I mean, one more sip won’t kill me.

The two of you start chatting, ‘what’s on your mind, big boy?’, he asks. Your flow of consciousness explodes in a field of withered sunflowers, burning all the stems in the deeper underground and erasing every form or possibility of life! He does the same. You’re on the same leaking boat, which triggers another pint for you both to dig a little deeper. ‘Do you still think about her?’, you ask rhetorically. ‘Please…’, he says, kind of bothered. You both know the answer, you both know she broke him apart and he’ll never get over her, so why bring it up?! You knew that would bring on another pint even if you don’t really fancy one.

Hey, it’s fine, one more sip won’t kill me.

The day is done, and with time passing by, so is your story as housemates: you part ways and ’stay in touch, okay?!’ Sure, everybody lives their lives and…who knows what happened to that guy.

You move to a new place and it’s a bit lonely in there. It’s nighttime, the house is hollow — there’s no furniture yet — your fridge is dead empty and you realise that the only supply you have is 3 bottles of red wine. You could go get some food but can’t really be arsed to go out and, you know what, the day was terrible, you deserve a glass of wine and some chillout music. You enjoy the moment, your mind travels through thoughts and memories you wouldn’t normally recall, and it’s all so relaxing you uncork a second bottle because you don’t want to lose that stream of consciousness. Besides, you know one more sip won’t kill you.

Now it’s taking off: the need for alcohol is stronger. You fall into a loop. The day after, the day after the day after, the day after that, and so on. 

You sit on the floor with an ashtray crammed with cigarette butts, wrapped in a deadly smoke that slows down your breathing one puff at a time. You feel weak and miserable. There must be some joy in self-inflicting pain we’re yet to find out and for some reason, it still feels so damn good. Those questions you never had an answer for begin to re-emerge. You understand why you hated school so much, why you never wanted to study, why you were always the fat one girls cruelly ignored and where your insecurities came from, why she cheated on you and you could never accept the idea of having been fooled, why you became that ice-cold player girls feared most. You start connecting the dots and it all makes less and less sense. The less sense it makes, the more alcohol you need. Your brain opens up to an overthinking routine that alcohol was supposed to prevent in the first place. The loop keeps spinning, so that now every second of your day, every moment, every damn thing – needs alcohol to be cured. You become a sort of hypochondriac; every little pain leads to immediate medication: alcohol.

Even one sip: besides, one more sip won’t kill me.

The morning after you do a couple of shots of gin before going to work, it’ll help you get through the day. It’s not enough though, you sneak out at lunchtime saying you’re going for a walk and pop into the pub for a quick two pints and a shot. When you get home in the evening, your stomach burns like the flames of the deepest circle of hell. You’ve lost weight, a lot of weight — you’ve had nothing but booze for a whole week! Now your face is marked with the strains of alcohol, of the addiction, and everybody can see it, your manager can see it and has a chat with you, but you won’t listen (maybe you can’t even) and instead, keep showing up at work more and more worn out until you force them to do something about it: you lose your job.

Booze after booze — poison after poison — you run out of money, you can’t pay for the house and get evicted: you need to get your stuff and park your ass somewhere in the streets. You start begging for money — this is what you’ve come to. It’s raining, it stinks out there (you stink too!), and you think it all started with one sip — one damn sip — to feel a little better. It’s freezing, you try to wrap yourself in more clothes but it doesn’t help. Your mind clears up for a second: you get ahold of yourself and you promise you won’t be touching any more alcohol.

Bum sleeping
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In the days that follow, you scrape together enough pounds for a meal and a haircut and an acquaintance of yours that you meet randomly under the Overground bridge understands your situation and kindly lets you stay with him for a while. You find a job as a waiter in one of the bars on the road, the pay is decent, they treat you well, and a month later you can afford a room on your own. Your acquaintance becomes a true friend, the one and only who helped you get your ass off the street, and you start spending a lot of time together. You’re sober, clear, in better shape, and decide to cook a nice dinner for your friend. He comes with a bottle of red wine and makes you promise you’ll just have a sip for celebration. You’re not screwing this up again and you both take just a glass each.

The night is done, your friend gives you a ‘see ya later’ and walks out. You clear the table, wash the plates, tidy up the kitchen, cork that bottle of wine and place it on the fridge. 

You’re in bed checking your Instagram feed — a photo here, a video there, a couple of stories — you think back to all you’ve been through and how you came out of it just fine. But you can’t sleep. How could you do that to yourself? What caused it in the first place? You elaborate moments, people, yourself, and even though things seem to connect, you can’t find a reason for your anxiety, for the agony, the unresolved personal issues. A vortex of thoughts starts hovering over you and you feel like the ceiling is about to push down on you. It’s so strong you stand up, shake your head, your thoughts — you have to remain calm. 

You eye at that bottle of wine standing there, glowing in the dark, and you know that just one glass could really help you relax and sleep, that even if you exaggerated in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn to dose it from now on. You take a sip, literally, put it back and go to bed. But you can’t stop thinking about it. 

It was never about your juvenile issues or your insecurities or inhibitions, about you being someone who overthinks again and again, about not being able to put your pride aside when she went with another guy — that’s all totally normal. 

Truth is you’re an alcoholic, a bad one — you’re an addict. And sometimes addictions just arise to fill a void, a moment of loneliness, of personal crisis, leading us to think they’ll be a quick solution. Though, solutions come with time, with peacefulness, effort and a strong will to change for the better. Sip by sip. 

But it’s just a bottle of wine, right? Just one bottle…one single bottle.

Just one more sip: one more sip won’t kill me.

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