Sunday, 9 July 2017

414 - Smirnoff Apple Vodka


Hello, is there anyone still out there?.......

As I approached the end of what I still hope will be my drinking history, I got truly addicted to Smirnoff Apple vodka. Even just typing that makes me a little ashamed as "vodka" is real alcohol, no more hiding behind middle class wineaholic status that is somewhat accepted and almost unrecognised. Vodka is doing business, vodka is the advancement of the alcoholic journey. Anyway I LOVED that bloody apple flavoured vodka and it didn't even taste like real vodka so the effect was worse as I was able to drink it even easier.

The dabbling with vodka started, oh damn, I have no idea when it started. Anyway the 'idea' behind having a vodka was to start the evening off with an aperitif (cannot believe I am writing this down and actually believed it at the time) Lets skim over the fact that somehow my body knew the wine wasn't cutting it anymore and if I started too early I would be out of wine with too much evening left. So I crazily thought I would have a vodka tonic to start and the move onto the wine after. Somewhat unbelievably, the first time I planned this, in my trundling about the aisles of the store I forget the tonic. Here is the first clue about my deluded thinking, I thought it would be OK to 'just this once' to have vodka on the rocks. That's basically a martini, right? Right! This first toe dip into the vodka was with a small 25cl bottle, enough for a couple of nights - ahem! Wrong, I so enjoyed the first glass I followed it up with a second and then there was only a dribble left so had that too. Only then was it safe to open the wine as it could be spaced out until bed time aka blackout.

Not sure how long this routine went on because some nights I would come home from work and force myself to do chores <angrily> or eat dinner and do dishes <angrily> or watch a tv show, you guessed it <angrily> until 7 pm when I could the race to the shop and buy only a bottle of wine, knowing now I could space the wine and evening in equal measures. But......... I was antsy, not quite satisfied, I realised some level hadn't been achieved. The hardship of the day, my job, heck my life was still palpable and so I would retire to bed with mixed feelings of happiness that I hadn't needed to have the vodka but also sadness that my life was so sad and sadly there was nothing that could ease the sad, sad, sad feelings of sadness. Hmm, maybe stop drinking?

Routinely the vodka became a new daily staple with only the odd day where resistance won out or I had faced the panic that ALL this drinking was going on my credit card (even more shame) and I couldn't let it continue. I would start with my two aperitifs and move on to the wine, at least 13% vol. If you ever wonder if your drinking is not completely under your control, note if the first thing you do when you pick up a bottle is flip it over the see what percentage/strength it is (under the bullshit pretence of reading its region or distinctive notes) to see if this wine will do the job it's intended for.

Back to the vodka infiltration.  So nearly every night I would have my vodkas and was successfully blocking the fact that my drinking had suddenly escalated quite significantly.  I started weighing the financial effects and decided one large bottle per week would be more prudent - yes I can hear how bad this sounds now. So the 70cl bottle appears in my trolley each week but apparently I miscalculated how much that is and actually one more run to the store by the end of the week to pick up a small bottle. Enter APPLE VODKA the killer of all restraint. Up until that point I had been enjoying just regular run of the mill vodka with increasing volume but now this was a whole other story. This apple vodka became the slippery slope that finally - hallelujah - brought me face to face with how bad things had become. The first time I had some I managed a third of a bottle and shocked by this immediately stopped, for the evening. The second night was the same, and I was equally shocked and moved onto my wine. Day three the bottle is gone and I still gave FOUR days til I should allow myself to buy another. Newsflash - I didn't make myself wait the four days.

To wrap a very long slow decent up quickly, within weeks I was drinking a 70cl bottle every two days but had managed to decrease my wine to half bottle per night. What an achievement! Not! I knew I was in real trouble but because I was holding down a job, running a house, getting up and out every morning with the dogs at 6:30 am, I looked like I was doing ok. I kept hinting to my therapist that I was getting worse but I think he thought I was overreacting and it was only when I said I was up to about 150 units alcohol per week that he blanched, probably shit himself (I can't verify that) and realised that yes I was really drinking to excess and he had better change how he responded.

The Saturday night that was to be the last night I don't know if I was trying to go out with a bang but from about 5pm until maybe midnight I polished off the whole bottle. A brand new low, the lowest I had ever been and not surprisingly the drunkest I had even been. I was a mess. Since I am in the shame shower already with this tell all, I might as well go the whole hog, I was so drunk I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees. I couldn't even stand up and writing that fills me with such a fear that I cannot even explain now. Needless to say my body not being too pleased with this gargantuan volume of alcohol did what bodies are designed to do with poison - I threw up. Not once, not twice but at least 4-5 times that evening before I passed out completely until about 4 am when I woke up throwing up again. That continued for about 3-4 hours and every time I threw up my poor head was filled with a thousand hammers bashing in my brain.  To say I was a mess is an understatment to say I was very severely poisoned by alcohol is still mild, whatever the case it was absolutely clear in my mind that I was on the road to ruin and I needed to take immediate action. Later that day I walked my dogs 1. because I wanted to punish myself further and 2 because why should they suffer because of me. On that dog walk I felt so dreadful walking up a hill I had a genuine fear that I was going to have a heart attack then and there and no one would find me for hours. I was literally scared out of my whits. I survived and made it home back to bed and was finally able to keep a glass of water down.

Unfortunately........ I did one more experiment somewhere between day 152-163. I was in sabotaging mood and drank for one night back to the 2 vodka aperitif and a bottle of wine level - enter the killer hangover again. Not quite the 'crawling up the stairs' level drunk or the fearing for my life next morning but certainly enough to remind me what a fools game this is each and every time we do it. I have not had a really strong craving since.

The reason for this sudden tell all is that my brain went into a unexpected state of delusion yesterday and I started thinking  about drinking which is something I never do these days. "I don't drink!" slips off my tongue as easily as "I don't eat babies" would, it's just not something I consider. Until yesterday that is. I didn't really want the alcohol, I wanted the experience, the taste, the convivial feeling and I wanted the apple vodka. Not in a craving way and I don't know if I can recapture the feeling well enough to convey but it was definitely rebellious, sabotaging, believing this time would be different (yes that old chestnut), wanting the taste, searching for the sensation, being daring, being the old me and being like everyone else. Luckily I run the movie to the end at times like this and remember the harsh reality of thinking I can have one or two like everyone else. Actually I just remembered that part of my genius was to go to a pub and order a vodka rocks cos then I wouldn't have the bottle to tempt me but then I thought I should make it a double or triple, enough for a 'decent' drink not just a measly thimble and that's when *KAPOW* it hit me that even in my imaginings I had gone from wanting one and thinking I was normal to three in one glass at one time which would probably awaken the craving monster that we were back in business.

Today I am back to not wanting to drink or even really think about it but I wanted to share it with y'all so you might know that it can and does happen to those of us who truly never want or plan to drink again. I have been mercifully spared real cravings and frequent desires to drink like I see elsewhere in blogs so I feel all the more surprised when it does happen. What I can say is that as part of that hijack yesterday there was no sense of urgency about it. I was able to stay in observer mode if still a little taken in by the idea but at no point did I feel threatened or fearful I would succumb to the call. Today it does seem to have an almost dreamlike quality to it which is good cos dreams fade and then vanish.

Having said that though...... if I could just stop the nighly potato chips/crisps that would be some real progress.

That's the end of today's tell all. I have such mixed feelings about oversharing warts and all truths and often will regret how much I  put out there. It's the internet and it never goes away and Google will deposit this in my little file and it will be there when I suddenly become a global superstar and journalists will be able to write vile things about me knowing that its all true. OK I digress, I will save the internet conspiracies for another day.

Stay sober everyone and if you are not sober today be sober tomorrow.

Ginger Groundhog