It starts with a sip. It seems so harmless, fun, even. The face you pull as the fire races down your throat and courses through your veins, your gag reflex surging as your stomach heaves, should be warning enough.
And yet, and yet… That’s rarely the case. Because, after all, it’s “only a sip.”
At first you just have an uninhibited relationship. Maybe you only get together on the weekends.
Perhaps just a casual night out or a relaxing evening in. There’s really nothing wrong with that. Right?
I mean, usually, you’re out in a group setting. It makes you more open; friendlier.
You can talk for hours with the person in the seat next to you about nothing in particular.
Oh, how sweet it is -how good it feels- to be personable when normally you’re closed off.
All of the sudden you’re the life of the party and everyone wants to be your friend. “Friend.” A foreign word to your tongue.
It floats on your lips like the kiss of a lover from an all but forgotten dream.
For some time, you’re its master. But once a week becomes thrice. Three times becomes four, and all of the sudden it’s every day!
Before you retire to a restless sleep. The second you wake up to stave off the uncontrollable shaking and nausea.
You frequent the emergency room and begin to recognize the doctors that tend to your needs with Ativan and saline solution.
Helping you get well enough to drive home without stalling out, stopping at the corner store on the way. Years pass in the blink of an eye. Things are no longer casual between you.
Now you’re just another casualty. Just another nameless, faceless has-been; one amidst a hundred million.
Day in, day out, you feel its beckon. From across the room. Under the pillow. From within the glovebox; your desk drawer.
Beneath the piles of clothes, you don’t have the energy to put away. All of the sudden you’re struck by the humorless hilarity of it all.
The utter irony. Is this why it’s called a Spirit, because it steals yours along with your friends and loved ones?
Your home and your happiness, leaving you with little more than pain and regret… your morals, long gone, along with your identity and sense of self. Your health, now little more than a distant dream. It starts with a sip.
*This piece was written by Jordan E. 1/18/22. It was published by HardBeauty with her permission. Thank you for Exhaling with us Jordan, we honor and appreciate you.