As I described in my last post, after my mom died and I quit my job at the fitness center, I quickly fell into a pattern of drinking pretty much all day, every day. While I knew this wasn’t quite normal, as I’d never drunk like that before, I figured it was a phase that I was entitled to because I was deeply depressed after the passing of my mother. I was also just bored, having given up all my responsibilities, having no guiding passions, and no relationships. I had very few friends that I rarely saw, mainly because my life had been so consumed by my mother’s illness and my job.
After a while of drinking alone day after day in the house where my mother died, I became overwhelmed by loneliness. One morning, I woke up and thought, screw it, I’ll go drink at a bar instead of the house, just to be surrounded by people.
I didn’t want to go anywhere fancy, as I still felt too depressed to really shower or change into anything other than sweatpants. I went to a dingy hole in the wall sports bar, the kind where college kids and bikers go for cheap pitchers of beer to watch a game and play darts. I ambled up to the bar, which was empty except for a couple of older men sitting at the opposite end getting sloshed, their eyes glued to the TV screen above the bar.
“I’ll have a whiskey on the rocks,” I said to the young, smiling bartender. If he thought it was odd that a 30-something-year-old woman in pajamas was ordering hard liquor at 11:00 in the morning, he didn’t show it.
“Coming right up!” he said cheerfully, before placing the sweaty rocks glass in front of me. It had a lipstick ring on it still from not being washed properly. I tossed it back gratefully and said, “Another, please.”
The men at the end of the bar had noticed me by this point, and I saw them nudging each other and whispering. I felt self-conscious, sure they were talking about me, thinking it was weird that I was here alone, dressed so shabbily and so early in the day.
But one of them smiled gently at me, and I lowered my eyes, blushing. The bartender placed a third rocks glass in front of me, saying it was from the men at the end of the bar. The one who smiled started to walk over.
“You wanna come to sit with us where you can watch the show?” he asked jovially. He seemed harmless enough. He looked about 50, with a white beard, a bit of a paunch, and kind eyes, almost like Santa Claus. He slurred a little when he talked, which told me he had already had a lot to drink too, and I instantly felt more at ease.
“Sure,” I agreed, sliding off my barstool and joining him and his friend.
I became fast friends with the men, Mark and Brian, and met them almost every day at that dirty little bar, watching crappy daytime television with them and getting more and more obliterated. They were very friendly, and we had fun playing Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right along with the TV. We never really talked about work or families, or how they, like me, could just show up at this bar and steadily drink the days away.
At rehab, I realized Mark and Brian were definitely fellow alcoholics and learned that alcoholics often seek out other alcoholics. I still go down to the bar once in a while, never to drink, but to drop off a few of my juices for the guys and see how they’re doing.
But I’ll explain the juices later. First I had to hit rock bottom.