I was not ready for the withdrawals. They weren’t severe enough to bring on seizures or DTs, but I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t going through a physical disturbance resulting from a profound change. I don’t remember how it felt, only how expansive the night became as my phone and I lay in bed, and I looked through the first names of women who told me to call them if I wanted to drink. I couldn’t recall most of their faces or where we met, so I didn’t call. Besides, I didn’t want to drink. There was nothing to talk me out of or through. I wanted to sleep.
For a decade, half of which I spent with a young brain that hadn’t fully set, I drank heavily and often. When people say alcohol is a depressant, they’re referring to the fact that it depresses, or slows down, the central nervous system. Over time, cognition and memory suffer. When alcohol is taken away, its inhibitory effects go with it, and the central nervous system is left jacked up.
Enough time has passed that my face, once a welt-dappled and grayish banner announcing my toxic body, skipped back in time to find the moonglow it lost in my first apartment. I look healthy, but I can’t sleep. My heart races with no apparent cause. My stomach weeps acid. My severe working memory deficit makes me forget my friends’ names; I am smoothed like an egg, losing everything I haven’t written down. My brain says it can stay up all night. It says we can just do more things to make up for what we keep losing. I was shaped by alcohol; it will always be my center.