I don’t write much about cravings and control any more, and that’s because it’s rarely an issue. To the extent that I miss drinking, I miss it in the abstract. I miss the idea of a future evening, curled up on the couch with LH, sharing a bottle of wine. Or I miss the future toast I’ll make when my first daughter marries, holding vintage champagne aloft. In the here and now, I very rarely think that what I want, right now, is some alcohol.
Yesterday, a craving hit me out of absolutely nowhere. I had had a reasonable afternoon, the kids were in bed, I was cooking a couple of meals for the freezer. I didn’t really want to be cooking, but I’d promised the school that I’d donate a pot of soup to an evening event, and some casserole steak needed turning into casserole, so there went my evening.
Anyway, I was most of the way through this process, and I picked up an open bottle of cabernet to pour some into the slow cooker. Usually, I get a brief wave of ‘Goodness, it’s lucky I’m not going to go out of control and just gulp this down’ in the same way that one thinks, near the edge of a cliff, ‘I could throw myself off this cliff. I won’t, though’.
Yesterday, the urge to glug some down was immensely powerful. Even as I willed my arm to keep moving so that the liquid glugged out into the casserole instead, I was watching myself from the outside. Right now I’m managing to resist, but God. I still really want to drink this. I could pour some into a glass and just drink it fast. Then it’d be done, I wouldn’t have to struggle with the craving any more, and I could just move on as sober again. Even if I regret it, regret is easier than this wanting.
Just as I used to when I drank, and I wanted to drink, and I knew I was going to break the promise I’d made to myself that morning, or the previous night, or last week, about cutting down or stopping. There’s a disassociation that happens in those moments. The addict brain starts frantically wheeling out every single argument in favour of the fix. It jabbers so fast, sometimes, that the arguments don’t even coalesce; there are just remnants scattered across the brain. I deserve, it’s only one, just liquid, stop again tomorrow, moderate, self-discipline, everyone does… And the other part of you sits clear of the shrapnel. Watching. And that voice is cold and clear and it says ‘you’re lying to yourself‘. It says ‘you’re lying to yourself because you have a problem, and you know that you’re going to drink and you know that you shouldn’t drink and you’re going to anyway‘. And then you drink because both voices are going to shut up if you do, and that feels like a good enough reason, frankly.
So there I was, thinking my thoughts about this. And the icy voice crept in. Here you are, watching yourself pour wine into a dish. You’re holding a bottle of wine. You’re an alcoholic, and you’re alone in a kitchen, and you’re holding a bottle of wine. Your arrogance will be your downfall. (My inner voice really does speak like this. It has Shakespearean aspirations).
You know those movies where someone has telekinetic powers and they can control inanimate objects with the force of their mind? That’s what I felt like I was doing, when I forced my arm to put down the bottle, screw the lid back on and take it into another room. As if it wasn’t my arm, as if it wasn’t my mind. There was me and there was the body holding the bottle, and they were not the same person.
I’m not going to lie, it pretty much scared me. And once I’d got past it, and finished cooking, and was once more safely ensconced in my well-lit lounge room with my creature comforts – specifically my comfortable creature – around me, I immediately wanted sugar. I wanted an entire packet of Haribo Tangfastics, those nasty, chemical-laden, artificial-in-every-way chewy sweets that I relied on heavily in my initial withdrawl from alcohol. Sugar from shock, or stepping down to a secondary addiction? I don’t know. But that craving persisted throughout the entire evening, whereas the alcohol craving hit hard and fast and was gone as soon as I put the lid back on the bottle.
And tonight I’m going to eat slow cooked beef casserole, and enjoy it.