That desperation to drink, usually around 3 or 4 p.m., I call the seize. It’s an unbearable tightening, a contraction of seemingly my whole being, centered in my chest. I want to record a description of it here since it seems to be slipping away. It hasn’t come in a month. But I know it will again and I don’t want to have forgotten its power.
During my last big effort to quit drinking, in early December, I went for about 10 days and then one Saturday I felt pushed to the wall. Oddly, it was right after I had spent a couple of hours on the phone with my sweetheart (I was traveling for work). I couldn’t stand the tension. And it was inexplicable. We have a pretty awesome relationship, and the phone call was fine. But I walked out of the house and downtown, and sat down in a half-outdoor restaurant where I people-watched and drank two beers. Did the beer release the stress – the seize? Sure. Was it euphoric? Nope, not that time. (Not anymore, I believe is going to end up being the answer.)
You know what happened? Instead of feeling a nice buzz and enjoying that for a while before the clickety-clack of my brain went weird, then haywire, and then useless, my physiology sent me straight to the haywire. The jangled thoughts. Thanks a lot — what fucking good is this? Though truly, thanks a lot, because this is what I need. It was my first experience of the failure of my response to the seize (decision to drink) to deliver the desired fake euphoria. Obviously, I don’t want to retest that scenario. I’m recording this so that I remember that I’ve lost my drug – there’s no going back to get even the veneer of what I thought it gave me.
I originally thought that the seize would weaken with time. I thought that as the days and weeks go by it would fill me less than 100%, gradually diminish. I expected that there would start to be a percentage or two of me that the seize didn’t completely fill, and that’s where I’d be able to slip in a fingernail and get a hand hold and hold onto myself. Well, that’s not what happened. Anything I call a “seize” is still 100%. There’s no arguing, reasoning, pleading with that hysterical bitch. She needs a drink and she’s screaming. For her there’s only one way out of that moment. But it’s a way out that I’ve removed.
Now what? If I’m committed to this acceptance project then I have to accept her, screaming and all. Drawing near to her feels very dangerous. But I’m learning to do it anyway, and I find out that I don’t actually get burned. She’s on or off, black or white, hot or cold; one minute she screams and the next she’s gone — poof. Gone. The things I learn when I wade into this mess.
So the seize, although it feels like it fills every cell in my body, is actually just a motion. A wave coming through. She is hysterical. But when I stand my ground and remain still in the face of its wrath (or even remain in friendliness), it spends its time and then rises up and out, and it leaves me unharmed. Ha! to say the least. It leaves me un-self-harmed.