(Pro-)/(Retro-)gression

1

I fill the void with three liters of cheap white wine and morph into a monster in a mini dress. Really, though, one sip is all it takes for the worst version of me to arrive—uninvited, aggressive, ridiculous. I want to strangle her, and I think other people do, too; in good ways, in bad ways, whatever, it doesn’t matter; it’s silence by asphyxiation all the same.

2
With every drink comes degeneration
and every disco dabble brings deterioration,
the reckless demolition of a grossly disordered mind,
a brain that begs to thrive on vague notions of happiness,
on promises of “something better,” on “living my best life!”

This poor mind, the reluctant nucleus of this struggling body,
continually and desperately attempting to experience whatever
it means to “feel alive” while being mostly dead inside.

The supposed freedom that comes from the bottle and white lines
merely creates ruination. And the birth of the worst version
of myself simply isn’t worth my immersion and participation
in what is commonly known as “having fun.”


2.5

Maybe some people simply don’t suit fun. Or don’t deserve it. I don’t understand fun.

My definition of Having a Good Time is as warped as my vodka-vortex vision. I have no hair to let down: I ripped it all out. I do not care for my safety: I am the danger. I smashed the tiles that I was meant to dance on. I tell you to pour me another one, but it’s never just one. I spend half my life trying and failing to order more drinks long after the bell has sounded for last orders, leaving after the lights are out, staying after the staff have gone home. I feel disgusting and I know I am a mess, but I pretend that “this is fun!”, that this is what I’m supposed to do because I am young. And I can lie smoothly when I want to. And because I’m drunk and high, I even believe my own lies, the lie that it’s fine, I’m fine, that everything is fine, it’s fine, everything is going to be fucking FINE!

It’s fine fine fine.

3

            “Do you enjoy it?”

Sparkling powder on dirty cistern / painted thumbnail / shattered iPad / dusty dashboard / pirate DVD / corner of stolen credit card / your boyfriend’s toned stomach / kitchen counter with breadcrumbs / toilet cubicle floor

with rolled up banknotes / lottery tickets / a strip of the Evening Standard / doctor’s notes / fluorescent straws / glass test tubes / torn-up takeaway menus / a brass house key

up up up it goes, up my pretty little nose, once so attuned to sniffing out success, now permanently crusted with dirty snow.

             “Nah, I don’t enjoy it. Not really…”

I need it I want it I LOVE it I need it a love so bad it’s good it’s good it’s good it’s all good! Good at awakening good at encouraging good at welcoming the worst version of me so rapidly so easily so completely I love it I need it I want it I need it I LOVE love lov—

             “No, I don’t enjoy it at all. In fact, I fucking hate it.

4

I don’t want this anymore. I don’t want to fight this person anymore. I want to kill the bad half of me, softly strangle her while she’s in bed, lying wide awake beside another nameless pissed-up stranger. She was so sweet, once, before the addiction grip; I want her to know mercy, want to lovingly smother her until she enters the sweet forever-sleep that she so frequently dreams of achieving. She deserves it: mercy. She is a shipwreck. Look at all these men living on her / off her / in her. Leave her alone! Let her sleep; she’s so tired. She is so fucking tired.

5

            “I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t carry on this way, in such a state. I hate             myself, I hate this, I hate it. I can’t do this anymore. Something’s got to change.”

And so I quit.

Cold turkey it: miserable / isolated / ashamed.

Almost always something bad has prompted my decision
(recalling snippets of the previous night with horror)
and so I feel that I have no choice but to hide; inside,
quiet, curtains drawn, a bucket for vomit beside
me on the floor, just hide and stew
in embarrassment and cold
sweat and want
to use / to die.

6

And the change is BAD.

7

And the change is…good.

8

And the change is very good!!!

9

And then I have One of Those Days

            where the dead refuse to stay buried

            where the trauma howls from the vowels of my surname

            where I don’t want to live, and I don’t want to die

            where it’s all too much, I need to make it stop

            goawaygoawayaway

so I go back to my old ways, and it starts again.

10

I hear them mumbling about leopards
and spots and dogs that can do tricks,
how an addict will always be an addict,
talking about how I’m going

downwards
backwards
upside-down
inside-out

at an astonishing rate but I’m not really
listening because I don’t want to hear it.

I’m laughing, standing at the bar.

I’m dying, knocking back another jar.

10.5

The next day I always feel more panic than shame: it is dread, utter dread, and fear at what I have done and said, and it is terrifying. I try to push it out of my mind.

            “It’s fine,” I say, “it’s fine.”

I forget that other peoples’ memories work far better than mine.

11

            “You don’t care about yourself, do you?”

            “Not really. Not anymore,” I say, blasé.

            “Well, you ought to. You should. You should start caring for yourself.”

            “Why?”

            “If you carry on, the rate you’re going, you won’t see your thirties,” says Derby Dan or Kev the Copper or Frank the Tank or whichever other fella in the boozer had promised your father before he died that they’d keep an eye on you and now feels obliged to guilt-trip you into sobriety while they carry on downing pints.

            “Precisely,” I reply, quietly, before ordering another Chardonnay.

12

Something’s got to change. I’ve changed my friends / scene / job / diet. I need to change tactics to stop these habits. Something has got to change. I think that “something” might be me.

 


Originally published in Reservoir Road Literary Review Issue 6 here.

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