***Submitted by Jane*
"Cinderella dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss a fella..." the girls are chanting this little ditty I've taught them in anticipation of our big movie night. Janet* is five and Janie* is two. My husband is gone for the evening, where I don't remember, and we are planning a girl's night. I'm excited, I'm making popcorn, a rare treat in our home, and I've purchased Cinderella 3 on DVD. We've been waiting for this movie to come out for months, maybe a year, and it's finally available. I of course am celebrating with some wine. There's a half bottle of red in the kitchen, more than enough for an evening alone with my two small children. I have a quick glass while making the popcorn, and then pour another and we settle in for the movie.
Somehow, the movie night is not going according to my expectations. Janie is bored, she wanders off to play. Or maybe she is nagging me to play with her, again, the memories are hazy. To settle my nerves I have another glass of wine. The bottle is empty now, and I want more. I don't think I have a problem. I am not a drunk. I just want one more glass. But if I open another bottle, my husband will know and despite justifying to myself that one more glass is no big deal there is clearly a part of myself that knows that it IS because I don't want him to know.
So I get the idea to open another bottle and drink it down to the same line that the first bottle was at. I'll hide the first, empty bottle and my husband will think that I didn't have anything to drink at all. Brilliant! But something goes wrong. As the level in the bottle gets lower I start to feel sick. I'm stumbling around, slurring my words. I've completely forgotten about my kids, the movie, everything except the level in that bottle. I have to force the last glass down, I'm that drunk. I don't want any more, but I have to get the bottle to half full and it never, ever would occur to me to dump it out. That would be wasteful!
I don't remember the ending of the movie, or if we even watched the end. Somehow I manage to get my kids upstairs and into my bed. I don't know if we put on pajamas, or if we brushed teeth. We probably did, since I do remember trying to read a book to them, and if I was coherent enough to read a book I probably had them brush teeth, right? Except I wasn't coherent, I was slurring my words like mad. The pages were fading in and out, the print just a blur. I was fighting unconsciousness. The room was going black. I think it was only 8pm. I quit reading and told my kids mommy was 'sick.' Then I passed out.
I don't know if my kids went straight to sleep, or if they stayed awake, talking over their drunken, unconscious mother. I don't know if they felt afraid, all alone in that big house with no one to take care of them. I doubt they knew the danger they would have been in if something had happened, a fire, a burglary, a medical emergency.
I don't remember my husband coming home, but I can only imagine how it looked to him. His wife, sprawled on the bed, passed out, reeking of wine. His two innocent children beside her, sleeping (or perhaps not). Did he try to wake me, to talk to me? Did I slur my words? Did I try to justify myself? Or did he just shake his head and go, wondering why I keep doing this?
At some point I did wake, that point where I was sober enough to face the full horror of what I had done, and sick enough to want to die. Red wine was hard on my stomach (which is why I later switched to white) and I spent several hours not able to sleep from the waves of nausea and repeated runs to the bathroom to puke my guts out. What excuse did I give? Food poisoning? The flu? Did anyone ever believe that I was 'sick' that often?
Somehow, I made it to morning. Somehow, I always seemed to finally sleep around 6am or so, and woke up feeling better albeit totally hungover. I looked around at the devastation I had caused, and swore to myself 'never again'. But it was just one of the million times I had said that, and there would be another million before I finally quit for good three years later.