Pounding Them Back

I ignored the warning signs. My alcohol intake was reaching monumental levels, and so was my tolerance. Drinking seven days a week, I found myself needing to drink a lot more to get the buzz I was used to. The clinking of glass bottles became the soundtrack to my life, as I’d pound them back, one by one, killing two six-packs of Heineken just at home, not counting any liquor I would drink on my daily rounds. As I sat at the bar, the dimly lit atmosphere seemed to match the hazy state of my mind. My fingers wrapped around the cold, perspiring bottle, the condensation slipping between my fingertips. The bartender knew my order before I even said a word, his disapproving gaze lingering on me longer than necessary. It didn’t matter; I had stopped caring about what people thought a long time ago. Each gulp of the golden liquid felt like it was bringing me closer to some sort of solace, but in reality, it was only creating more chaos in my life. The constant back and forth of feeling both like a loser and a winner would keep my depression on a steady incline, and the more I thought about where my life was at that point, the more of a reason I thought I had to drink. Each swig of beer felt like a temporary reprieve from the turmoil in my mind. The weight of my responsibilities, my dreams, and my failures all temporarily lifted as I drowned my sorrows in the amber liquid. I could feel the familiar burn in my throat, the numbing sensation taking over my body, as I continued my journey downward. The world around me began to blur, the faces of patrons merging into a swirling sea of indistinct features. The more I drank, the more my thoughts raced, my mind consumed by the mounting pressure of my life’s disappointments. My wife and daughter would watch as I came stumbling in, doing my best “sober” impression. But it was clear as day, I wasn’t just an alcoholic, but a drunk. The shame and guilt that washed over me each time I saw the disappointment and concern in their eyes only fueled my desire to escape further into the bottom of a bottle. My reflection in the mirror behind the bar was a distorted, unrecognizable version of myself, a mere shadow of the man I once was and the man I aspired to be.

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