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I played with quantities on these solitary nights. I felt sure there was a formula, that with a little experimentation, I would get it right – the exact right ratios of wine to vodka tonic, to food to solitude – that would result in some imagined state of ease and comfort. So often I was held back by the presence of my husband, or the sleeping bodies upstairs. The ‘what if’ scenarios. What if he comes home and finds me? What if they wake and need me? Jiu Jitsu Jesus Not Today Satan Shirt, hoodie, tank top
On my last night of drinking, I just let go. I got to the ‘f**k it’ edge and I just jumped. Seb was away. I did my duties: I bathed the babies, vodka tonic in hand – less tonic, more vodka. I hissed the words of Peter Rabbit, my mind downstairs where my other baby waited. Back downstairs, I was determined. I set myself up on the couch and began. I embarked on the drinking that night with no more pretence. It was liberating at first. I would find the bottom of this thing. I would touch the edge of it and find out where it ended. I was going to jump.
I didn’t count on the fact that I would keep on falling. There was no ground to hit. No side or edges to touch, no end to the thirst. I sprawled on the couch in my lovely home, in my lovely life, and kept on pouring. I was dogged. Or it was. I was relentless. It was relentless. I was in the grip of something that was never going to let me go. It would never leave me alone. This thing would never be done with me.
I never made it to bed that night. I sprawled on the couch, sodden with booze, my mind clogged and filled to capacity with petrol-shop wine, my body gorged but still somehow empty. I made it through three bottles, mostly in a blackout. Maybe the babies cried out for me in the night, I don’t know.
Those are blank hours, hours in which my life teetered towards an unknown disaster. I was suspended, drugged and immobilised while potential catastrophe loomed. Nothing disturbed me in this catatonic state. I play the tape of near-misses in my mind as penance. My toddling, trusting baby pitches head first down the stairs and I don’t stir. An errant cord nooses round his delicate neck and I don’t even know – I’m too ruined with booze to be roused by the muffled whimper of tragedy upstairs. Even holding the babies now, years later, I am trying to comfort those unheard cries, but I never will.
They survived my obsession. I don’t deserve this. I deserve to have been dealt the worst. The very worst. But somehow I wasn’t. We all survived. So far. Touch wood. Please god. Please please please.