Keeping alcohol around the house can be akin to playing with explosives for some, yet no big deal for others – as long as they’re keeping it around for someone else besides themselves. Since I’m the type that still makes my boyfriend hide any enticing-looking cookies, candies or donuts he brings home for fear I may eat the whole box, I definitely fall into the former category.
But on my first full night without drinking, I pretended keeping the last three cans of beer in the fridge was a good idea. Big time recovery myth. I told myself that leaving that trio of tall-boy Budweiser cans hidden in the produce drawer would:
- Increase my will power
- Make me stronger
- Eliminate the ghastly thought of throwing “perfectly good beer” down the drain
So I left the three cans of beer in the fridge and went on off to bed.
Night of the evil fridge
In early recovery, especially during the first few weeks, going to bed and going to sleep can be two totally different things. One of the mantras in recovery circles is “Lack of sleep never killed anyone.” This fact is supposed to make you feel better as you toss, turn and writhe during a litany of sleepless nights.
And writhe I did, as my mind raced in a million different directions, always landing back on one central thought: There are still three beers in the fridge.
The three cans grew into three mountains in my head. The red Budweiser writing started flashing on the walls, like those cheap neon signs in Vegas. The mountains of beer turned into skyscrapers of beer on top of mountains, swirling and dancing and mocking me from the bottom of the produce drawer.
By about 3 a.m., I could take it no longer. I whipped off the covers, raced into the kitchen, and dug the tall boys out of their not-so-hidden hiding place. I whisked them into the bathroom, slammed them down near the sink, and flipped open a can tab that made the unmistakable CLICK all beer drinkers come to know quite intimately.
The CLICK, of course, brought my then-boyfriend into the room with a look of horror on his face. You see, we had both quit drinking – for real this time – the day before, and he thought I was about to guzzle those three beers on the bathroom counter.
I wasn’t. I wanted to stay sober more than I wanted to drink. And I needed those damn beers to leave the inside of my head. The only way for them to leave my head was for them to leave the house. So I flipped up the toilet seat and started sloshing the beers into the bowl.
The relief that flooded through me was immense, but it was matched by the anger that came searing through my veins. This beer crap was evil. This beer crap tried to kill me. This beer crap was still trying to make me drink it by hiding in the produce drawer.
By the time I got around to pouring the third beer down the toilet, I was loudly chanting “Be gone evil Satan! Be gone evil Satan! Be gone evil Satan!”
At that moment in time, alcohol was the most evil entity I had ever known. I wanted nothing to do with it, ever – not in my fridge, not in my house, and definitely not in my body.
What was really going on
Believing the recovery myth that keeping those beers in the fridge was going to make me stronger was a joke. What had really prevented me from pouring them down the drain in the first place was fear. If I got rid of those beers, I was taking a huge, concrete step that meant I really truly was going to quit drinking – to plunge into that great unknown.
Scary for sure, but probably not as scary as my dramatic “Evil Satan” ritual in the early morning hours near the toilet.
Yeah, my boyfriend had looked kind of freaked out, like he was ready to have me committed. But the beer was gone. My head was clearer. And I could now go back to bed to toss and turn and think all kinds of things that no longer included three beers in the fridge.
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