Xeno Hemlock


What My Brief Love Affair With Alcoholism Taught Me

“Never look back.”

Together, three empowering words. I wish I could completely apply the message to myself and forget a certain phase in my life. I was heartbroken, blindsided and stabbed straight to the guts. No room left for me to go, I jumped from the cliff of my old life down to the pit of my writing career in the hope of giving meaning to my life. To make the initial ascent from dark to light easy, I entered into a romantic affair with alcoholism. Life became brighter when someone filled the void left by another. Sweet kisses in the morning, stolen moments at work, and sensual passionate fusion in the dark, my last memory for each night was me lying in bed staring at the empty ceiling. The constellations spun above me and an orgasmic sensation traveled within the veins of body. Bliss. Then I went to sleep. To slumber I took all that I learned about he.

He. Alcoholism.

He, sweet, warm, and addicting, did take the pain away — temporarily. At the pinnacle of our nightly love-making, he washed my heartache away. I felt like a free man unbound to all the miseries life had to offer. I had conquered the pain, or so it seemed. Every time the sun woke me up the following morning, I would open my eyes to a bed with disheveled sheets. He was gone and I was back to square one. The pain hadn’t abandoned me at all.

He made me brave. Inside I was sad but the people must not know about it. Inside I was hurting but I must put up a facade. Inside I was angry but I must be kind to the emotion-averting world. Then he assured me that it was okay to be sad, to feel hurt, and to be angry. So I cried, I languished, and I cursed. He made me feel like the king of the world. And king I was, the foolish kind who sought attention and embarrassed himself on social media. Indeed I was brave, a brave fool.

He, my inspiration, became my Muse. The love he gave was too much it overflowed from my body to the blank page, erotic caresses delivering words and ideas. Overwhelming but great, I revelled in it for it became art’s ultimate recipe. Without it I struggled. I couldn’t find the rhyme to time. There was no cadence to my sentence. So he became my fuel. Drink before I could think. For the sake of construction I subjected my body to destruction. He was my Muse alright, a wicked and treacherous one.

He offered a false shortcut. I didn’t want to deal with the pain and just wanted to forget. I wanted to go back in time to undo the damage. On my own, I couldn’t. He presented to me a path to achieve all those. I fell for it and we made love, a love I thought would last a lifetime.

One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t on the correct path of healing and moving on. Engaging in a new love affair while my own heart was still repairing itself from the death of one was a delusion, a delusion so real all I wanted to do was to drown in it. So I gathered courage and talked some sense to myself. The truth confronted me in the mirror and it looked pitiful. I broke up with alcoholism and he didn’t like it. With open arms the road to sobriety welcomed me, salvation from what became of me.

Me. Alcoholic(s).

Me was a liar. I believed I had complete control and was invulnerable. I drank alcohol for breakfast, sneaked it to work, and drank it at night. I took pride in drinking and brandishing it knowing that nobody could confront me, not even myself. But I knew deep down in my heart and in the pit of my stomach that control and invulnerability were not mine. It was the other way around. Alcoholism had me grasped by my throat. Every shot and every bottle further proved my misconception about invulnerability. I was lying to myself.

Me was lonely. I partied. I smiled. I laughed. I Facebooked, tweeted, and Instagrammed. But I kept going back to drinking because no matter how lively and fun the music, how outgoing and joyous the people I was with, and how promising and attractive showing off online appeared to be, the truth was that I felt very lonely. I couldn’t communicate the sorrow I felt in fear of being judged so I went the other way around and tried to extinguish it.

Me was trapped. I couldn’t find a way out and so I sank deeper. Every day that passed afforded me an opportunity o get out but I chose to indulge myself, digging my way further into despair. The earlier I could get out, the easier the escape. The longer I stayed, the harder the climb out of alcoholism.

The saddest thing I learned from it all — me was hopeless. Me turned to drinking because me gave up. Me gave up on the goodness left in society and the possibility of family’s and friends’ help. And the worst of it all, me gave up on my own self. No picture could be sadder than losing faith in the world except for losing faith in oneself.

I set myself free. I climbed my way out of alcoholism before the pit became seven levels above me.

No longer hopeless, trapped, lying, and lonely, I decided to start forging a brighter future ahead of me and said, “I will never look back.”

But if on the road to a brighter future I happen to pass by someone with a wide smile, a glass in hand, and a bottle in another, I shall stop. Then I shall get rid of all my reasons for not looking back. For if there needs to be any reason to do so, it’s to remind me of the dark and lonely state when one is consumed by alcoholism. I shall not judge but I shall understand. I shall not laugh but I shall empathize. I shall not mock but I shall be patient. I shall not talk but I shall listen. I shall take the glass with my left hand, the bottle with my right, and I shall throw them away.

This story also appeared on Medium.com.

Cover image: Sleepy Sundays... by Sean McGrath