Fade to Black

I have never had a use for alcohol. In high school when most kids are getting their first taste, I held a beer, once, during a parking lot party at the beach, and was relieved to abandon it, still full, on the ground when it was time to leave.

Even at that age I watched the destruction alcohol can cause. I watched as normally bright people did stupid things they never would have done while sober. Every limb of my family tree was weighed down by alcoholism. I could not understand how people could drink enough of a substance, that I found repulsive, to get drunk. How did they choke that much down and why would you want to when you would most likely do something you would regret and wake up feeling like hell for your trouble? I simply didn’t get it.

Recently, within the perspective of my lifetime, I began dealing with chronic pain. MP, who understands alcohol, showed me the wonder that is “feeling no pain”. I still believe alcohol to be disgustingly vile but I’ve learned if I can choke down a couple of shots I can find pain relief more effective than any medication I’ve been prescribed. I’ve never had anything I can identify as a hangover. For me it’s win-win.

All of that being said, I’m still incredibly stubborn about drinking when I’m around other people. I have an ingrained belief that people who get drunk are sloppy, embarrassing, inconsiderate, and rude. If I’m going to drink, I’m not about to inflict my behaviors on others.

Not long ago, I was in a fair amount of pain, as I had been for several days. I was gently prodded into drinking and was profusely thankful when I became numb. Unfortunately, I drank a bit more than usual and experienced my first black out.

I have always thought that a black out would be … well … black. It’s not that at all. I’ve been told about the things I did and some of the things I said. There are things in those descriptions that I cannot reconcile with who I am. I used vocabulary that I don’t use, that I have never used. I did things I cannot imagine doing. I don’t remember any of it.

I’ve had a traumatic brain injury that corrupted a good bit of my memory retention but generally speaking when I have forgotten something if I’m reminded, I will, at minimum, remember tiny bits of it. If I can’t remember anything about an incident specifically, I can often remember how I felt at the time. It’s similar to not being able to remember any specific date you went on with your ex-boyfriend from long ago but you still feel warm when you think about how much you loved him. This black out is not like that. It is like falling off a cliff. I remember the before and then *wham* there’s nothing. That night is just … missing.

I lost time like that once before when I was in labor. I had been in severe pain for so long that my brain checked out. I lost several hours and no one will tell me what I said or did during that time. This was a very long time ago and it still bothers me. I’m grateful that this time I had someone I trust to tell me what happened. It makes that missing time less disturbing.

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