The Disease’s Tricks.
A friend on twitter (@ProfLikeSubst) wrote that my post about drinking at the worst possible time sounded like one of those behavior modifying parasites. The kind that make mice run toward cats because mice pick up the parasite but it needs to gestate in a cat’s stomach, or whatever. Alcoholism is a disease that controls our behavior to sabotage our lives. Because it needs access to alcohol, and we’re the delivery system.
Even though I’ve been continuously sober for close to 8 years, I still am subject to the occasional burbling up of my disease’s tricks. This happens especially frequently when I travel. The disease searches out weaknesses and tries to exploit them. These impulses are short and feeble at this point, because I know how to do the work to keep them at bay. But they are there, and they will always be there. And if I stop doing the work, they’ll get stronger again.
I was in France this past week, as you know, and France is known for a lot of things, but one of the primary glories of France, a thing everyone knows about France, is wine. The best wine in the world, nearly everyone agrees. Unless you’re an Italian vineyard owner, you probably think the best wine in the world is French. And let me tell you: I love wine. I love white wine and red wine and champagne and I love the things people make from wine like brandy and cognac.
And, of course, I didn’t drink on this trip. And I didn’t much want to. But as I occasionally do, I wished that I had the ability to enjoy a thing that I used to enjoy. Even if the way I remember it and the way it was aren’t really much alike. At one point I found myself thinking, “I could have a sip and then spit it out. Like at a tasting!”
I almost laughed out loud at myself. My disease was working hard in that moment, I suppose. Trying like hell to find a way back into my life. But it was a hilariously pathetic attempt. Obvious. And I did what I always do: think the drink forward. I wouldn’t spit. Alcohol is absorbed through the mouth too anyway. I’d get drunk and ruin my relationship and my job and my life. And that’d be that. The slow, squalid, unmourned death that my disease wants from me.
I put the thoughts away and they didn’t come back. Three days in France and there was just the one moment. Like there was that one moment in Spain last year. And like there will be one-moments throughout my life. And yes, I miss it. And yes, it’d be lovely if I could have that glass of wine and be the suave man I see in my head. But that man is a figment of my disease’s imagination. I’m the fat drunk bastard who deludes himself. C’est la vie.
I get to do all the things my disease would take from me. And I don’t get to do the one thing it wants. Fair trade.