How to be an underage alcoholic
First of all, know you don’t have an alcohol problem,
you have an existence problem.
It’s not that you don’t want to be alive,
it’s just that you don’t want to live in your life.
Secondly, be smart about it.
When stealing liquor, don’t take a lot all at once.
Make sure you add enough water to the bottle to make it look balanced, but don’t dilute it.
Never take the beer.
Not because you’d get caught (it would actually be easier to steal),
but because you need more of it for the desired effect and it tastes like recycled toilet water.
Liquor is straight to the point,
it doesn’t need a chaser.
Decide at twelve years old that you’ll always be a hard liquor kinda girl.
Keep that promise.
Not because you want to be the girl with expensive taste,
but because you owe yourself enough to keep a fucking promise.
At fifteen start sharing drinks with your dad.
Understand that he is most definitely an alcoholic,
but he isn’t high functioning like you.
Just know that when he brings you a drink he wants to talk.
Always be prepared for the heavy conversation.
Always be ready to play devil’s advocate.
You have to tiptoe around the point before it gets to him.
Make sure you watch your step, you’re walking on eggshells.
Know that you’ll always overthink everything,
and I mean everything.
Every word. Every action. Every thought.
Don’t worry, drinking will help.
Make sure you’re really good at pretending to be okay.
You will need to be okay.
Learn how to sober up quickly,
and I mean quickly.
Like on the flip of a dime.
You’ll need to get out of your blurry mind’s eye every now and then.
Start babysitting and making money.
Get the older girl up the street to buy it for you.
Never drink on the job.
Don’t be stupid about it.
Understand that your life will always condition you to be the caretaker.
You can drink as much as you want but as soon as someone needs help, you’ll be at their side.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that you help everyone else before yourself.
It’s just that you don’t help yourself.
It’s not that you can’t,
you just don’t want to.
What’s the point of fixing something that keeps breaking in all the same ways?
Understand that you don’t have an alcohol problem.
You just don’t have any other solution to your life problem.
Sometimes, I dissociate.
My mind and body go numb and
I don't always remember what was said or done.
My doctor calls this ‘dissociative amnesia’.
I call it autopilot.
I call it autopilot because I’m still calling the shots,
I just don't know I'm calling the shots.
I still know where I’m going, still know what I’m doing,
I just don’t remember any of it happening.
I like to think that is what planes are like.
When they are on autopilot, they are calling the shots.
They know when to turn, when to move, when to alarm, what not to do,
but once the pilot takes control, the plane wakes up and realizes its potential for disaster.
Sometimes I feel like a plane because I, too, realize my potential for disaster.
When I dissociate, my mind goes where it pleases.
There is no filter, nothing is off-limits.
My mind says what it likes and does what it likes,
and I don’t have any say in the matter.
Sometimes, I am the only one who suffers in the wake of my destruction.
Other times, my friends and family don’t stick around to see the aftermath.
Having dissociative amnesia is like living in third person with no long-term memory.
It’s learning of your actions after the fact and coming to terms with what happened
and realizing you will never understand how or why.
Sometimes, I wish I were a plane,
just to have the peace of going to sleep in one place and waking up in another without any question.
I wish I had the ability to operate as instructed without a question or care in the world.
But I am not a plane, I am a person.
A person learning to live a life that isn’t always my own.
Lia Nizen is a spoken word poet out of Wilmington, North Carolina. As a disabled woman, Lia has always found a sense of safety and peace in writing, and she is a passionate activist for the disability and chronic illness communities. She teaches an online writing workshop called Metanoia, which has curated a community of writers from all walks of life. Lia’s work appears in several literary journals, including For Women Who Roar, The Monarch, and Storm of Blue Press. She also has work published in the 2018 anthology Upon Arrival: Interlude and the forthcoming anthology Best Poets of 2020: Quarantine Edition by Eber and Wein Publishing, and the Spring 2021 Edition of Capsule Stories.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.