Me and the Bottle
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I look at the bottle. I look at the clock again, reluctant to remember. It's 2 am, and I have nothing important going on tomorrow. No work, no rare social event, or another doctor's appointment. I had a minor anxiety issue and was unable to fall asleep beforehand, so here I am at 2 am again. For someone that doesn't work a night shift, I see this time a lot. Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity. All of them make it hard for me to sleep, but sleep meds make me exhausted and nonfunctional so I prefer to just try my best. But tonight is one of those bad nights. When I worry too much about the state of the world. When I think about the small chance I die alone. When I worry about my father's cough and my mother's autoimmune disorder. Little things, even. That I didn't give a woman the right kind of salt, maybe. That I said the wrong greeting to my boss, and that might make them fire me. That I might have cut off someone in traffic, and now they're tracking me down to kill me.

So I'm up, at 2 AM. Staring at the bottle in my hands. You always wonder how you got into certain situations. I know exactly how I got into this scenario- bad decision-making in a gas station after work. I bought a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Because I love it, I can't help it. It tastes like a perfect mixture of sweet and sour. I haven't taken a drink yet. I'm just… sitting on the bed, staring at the bottle. I press it to my lips, then stop. I put the bottle on my bedside table, turn off the light and stare up at my ceiling, waiting to fall asleep hopefully.

I don't fall asleep. I wait five minutes then sit up, cross my legs, and put my head in my hands. I weep softly. Small sobs escape me as I turn my head again, tears dripping down my cheek as I look at the open bottle again. I feel like a child again, stuck in my room and unable to sleep because thoughts of my family dying are swirling inside of my mind, pulling in and destroying any brief glimpse of happiness I may have had. When I was a child I had awful insomnia, because my ADHD made my thoughts hazardous and spastic. I would lie in bed, stock still, my mind filled with the worse thoughts possible. All the horrific ways my family could die were imagined in terrible detail, and no matter what I did my mind would drift to these thoughts. As a result, I would read, or games, or do something to distract my consciousness and give myself a mental rest. I know it's unhealthy, but it's this or think about all of my family dying. This habit has stuck with me into adulthood.

I pick up the bottle again and put it to my lips. It feels like I've broken the bottle, picked up a shard, cantilevered it down my throat, and begun scratching at my own heart. All I can think about is all the people to who I made promises. To my mom, to who I said I wouldn't use it as a crutch anymore. To my friends, to who I explained my situation and who have been there for me every step of this shitty journey. What hurts most of all is the promise I made to my partner, whose on this same journey with me. If I drink this, it doesn't matter if I tell her, it doesn't matter if she ever finds out. I will know, and that guilt will stay with me for what feels like an eternity. I stare at the foamy liquid, smelling the hops I am allergic to.

This habit is perhaps more obviously physically destructive than it is for most. I am allergic to hops, meaning drinking this bottle of hard lemonade will cause me physical and intestinal distress for the next two days. I will feel like my joints are swollen up and sore. I will feel like the bottom of my feet was slammed with hammers. I will feel like my intestines are a living snake, constantly shifting around and pushing against my abdominal muscles. I know all of this well. But I still look at the bottle of flavor lustfully. I have a nearly perfect sense memory of the liquid, one that hasn't been dulled by an illness of any kind. Just a bit sweet, just a bit sour, the lemon and sugar playing across all the taste buds of my tongue. It is now a sickly sweetness, one that fuels an illness that is stuck in my mind. It's like someone super glued a bottle cap to the filter between the hemispheres of my brain.

As the points of the bottlecap rotate and stab against my brain I put the bottle down and start to cry again. Everything is around me, rushing in, like the accretion disc of a black hole is centered on my chest. Climate change, political radicalism, oncoming disasters, medical bills. All of it can be taken away, the concern washed away in the sweet vice, the wonderful poison, the beautiful bottle. I take deep breaths, shutting my eyes tightly. I grab the bottle and walk downstairs, quickly dumping the liquid down the drain and putting the bottle in the cardboard box that serves as a temporary recycling container before everything gets put in the bin. I repeat this five more times, walking up and grabbing a bottle, emptying it, grabbing another, emptying it, grabbing another, emptying it, grabbing another, emptying it. It is a cycle. When I make another 16$ failure. When I'm in a gas station and can't help myself. When I am in a pharmacy and can't help myself. This I still have the time put in: I refuse to break the streak I have. I'll drink at my wake, dammit. I am strong, and I have gotten through far worse against far worse odds. This is my life. This is my choice. I will fight the bottlecap stuck in my brain, and I refuse to let its edges cut me anymore.

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