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My Last Crusade

I was 30 days sober, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it to day 31.

Mary Jensen

I dug my nails into my mattress and squeezed my eyes shut. One minute I’d been folding laundry in my bedroom, the next I’d been overtaken by a craving for alcohol so strong, I had to cling for dear life to my bedsheets.

I thought I’d already experienced every withdrawal symptom possible. The shakes, nausea and headaches. But this was the worst one yet. Not a dream. A vision that played out before me like a scene from a movie. I saw myself as a thirsty golden retriever, frantically lapping up liquid from a golden lake that sparkled like diamonds. A lake filled with Chardonnay. My drink of choice. Or maybe I should say I’d lost the ability to choose. I was like that thirsty dog. No choice. 

I took a deep breath and tried to remember everything I’d learned in my outpatient treatment program. “Go home, don’t drink, come back tomorrow.” That’s what my sponsor kept telling me. Those seven words had become my mantra whenever I had a craving, which was all the time. But what on earth were you supposed to do when you started seeing yourself as a dog drinking from a bottomless lake of Chardonnay?

Part of me knew it was just my disease talking to me. That, on a subconscious level, I wanted to drink so badly that I conceived of myself as a thirsty golden retriever. But another part of me was scared to death. Was I going crazy? I was supposed to be getting better, not worse! Was I one step away from ending up like my father?

My dad had always been a heavy drinker. I was just a freshman in college when he died of liver disease at the age of 54. Even though he was an alcoholic, as I realized now, he was still a good dad. My rock. The one person who really got me. So when he died, I turned to the one thing that made me feel closer to him—alcohol.

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December/January 2018