Vinegar is Not a Coping Skill

Hello dear readers. It’s been a while.

I haven’t felt the need to write. My brain is devoid of any worthwhile ideas. My beta fish and I have more things in common than I do with any other humans. I just swim around by myself, hide behind my plastic plant, and wait for food.

As I mentioned on last Friday’s post, I haven’t been drinking. I’ve stayed dry since then save for one shitty glass of Moscato I choked down and two hard ciders I snuck in from the corner store spread out across the span of 20 days. My significant other is only reason I haven’t purchased my beloved Barefoot Pinot. Not because I’m doing it for her benefit but only because I know she would dump it out if she saw it in the fridge.

On a particularly numbing day of work this week the humidity was at 75% and the vaporous scent of urine and garbage New York is so well known for was starting to get to me. While standing on the subway platform waiting for my connecting train I envisioned how easy it would be to stop at the wine shop on my way home. I’d be in, out, and pouring myself a nice cool glass of my favorite $7.99 golden elixir within the next hour. I found a seat on the train and shook my fantasy out of my mind. “No. I’m not drinking anymore,” I scolded myself.

I thought about maybe stopping at Popeye’s on my way home instead. Fried shrimp and biscuits always help. I remembered my collection of skirts I no longer fit into and thought better of it. Besides, I was trying to save money on food, it wasn’t a good idea, I had food at home.

After getting to my apartment and taking my dog out for as long a walk as she could manage in the heat I opened my refrigerator and searched for an answer. I had ingredients for lentil soup, but that involved a lot of cutting veggies and waiting on the crock pot. I also had ingredients for a Greek salad with quinoa and feta cheese. That also involved too much cutting and I’d have to wash the dishes first. Instead I reached for a jar of pepperoncini peppers.

The burn of the vinegar and spices was just intense enough to ease my thoughts for a moment. I ate pepper after pepper, collecting the stems in the top of the jar. When I finished I downed about half of the juice and dumped the rest out of shame. Full of sodium, I felt marginally satisfied. I stared at my dog happily chewing her Nylabone and thought about wine again, feeling disgusted by my salt-belly and wishing for a buzz.

When work is intolerable being at home is worse somehow. I have all the comforts I need. My companions both furry and of the human variety are by my side. I can wear my pajamas and watch my favorite shows on TV. Relaxation is a far-fetched concept in my brain. I never feel comfortable enough no matter how many memory foam pillows and plush fleece blankets I pile around myself. My back and shoulders hurt. I have a headache most of the time. I feel like removing my skin in one giant husk and just melting into my bed. If only

It’s as if I have to consume something to stop my thoughts from consuming me. They’re never good things, always foods that contribute to high blood pressure, heartburn, and general dehydration. I need to slapped in the mouth to reset my worries or to break up numbness, it’s always one or the other. Even though I rarely drank enough to have a hangover the fuzzy feeling wine gave me was the closest thing I could get to feeling relaxed. Even though the pendulum would always swing the other direction after half a bottle of wine and a lot of times I would wake up in the middle of the night or feel more anxious the next day the 2AM wake-up seemed worth it for that 6PM contentment.

At this point I am at a loss. I know what I should be doing. Exercise, art, writing, cooking, crafts – my Pinterest board is shouting at me. Those are healthy coping skills. When I come home feeling raw and utterly drained the last thing I want to do is put on my gym clothes or break out my box of crafts. I want to hide. I want to eat and drink and punish myself for being an anxious piece of shit.

It takes time to make new habits. I’m just hoping I can give myself a break without having to down any more pepper juice.

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