Addiction by James Roach

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When she asked me if I believe I have a problem with alcohol,
it felt different to answer “yes” out loud,
my voice echoing back at me,
rather than just checking a box on a form full of questions
I should have been asking myself all along.
Questions I deemed too difficult to answer.
Not like not knowing how to solve a math problem,
but more like knowing how to save yourself
but being afraid it’ll be too hard to show your work.
2 DUI’s in 4 years and more than that
if you count all the times I should have gotten caught.
The metal of the handcuffs was cold and heavy
and not at all like the cheap pairs we played with as kids.
They were simple to maneuver out of while laughing
at our cunning escape techniques,
not knowing then that being arrested isn’t so funny.
Jail has no clocks,
no windows,
and no comfort
but plenty of time to think and plead yourself
into promising you’ll do better.
I wrote myself a letter
in anxious and hungry handwriting,
using the bible as something hard
under my piece of paper and golf pencil.
I wanted to document my version of rock bottom.
By the time I read this into a microphone,
I will be 61 days sober which today equals 197 days
that I haven’t almost killed myself or anyone else.
But 197 days is still just a drop in the bucket for the 7 years I could have.
For the 7 years I drank myself into believing
it wasn’t a problem to survive that way.
For the behavior I wish I didn’t have to call my own
but that I hold in my hands,
with my name written all over it
in the handwriting of the relationships I’ve ruined.
For the behavior I had even without alcohol,
my magic trick being I can still ruin everything without drinking.
Switch my triggers from the grocery store beer aisle
to the sound of cartoon dollar signs
and left behind ATM receipts with high remaining balances.
Replace pints of beer with pints of debt and empty promises.
You can take away those new sheets I never needed for sleeping
and subtract those new clothes I never needed to wear.
Add in my rolodex of unpaid bills and broken record apologies
but definitely take note of my awesome t-shirt collection.
I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to the smell of new things
and the ability to drink to forget
that I never needed them in the first place.
My words have given bruises just as well as fists,
unintentionally carving my initials
into unwilling skin and bone
as if to say “I was here”
and “I caused more damage than this.”
While driving to the poetry slam in April,
I watched the sky break into blue over Tacoma.
The rain fell between sun rays and car crashes,
washing away the smell of burnt rubber
and increased insurance premiums.
I was listening to Explosions in the Sky
which is a band and not a metaphor for thunder.
It reminded me of the way lightning
can turn darkness into daytime in a split second.
It reminded me that when I drink,
I can turn light into darkness in the same split second,
that I am the opposite of lightning.
But if I try hard enough,
I can be electric again.

James Roach

James Roach has been writing for years but only in the past few has he realized he might be amazing with words. He’s originally from the midwest and has been living in the Pacific Northwest for 13 years. James is inspired by the weather, heartbreak, beauty, ugliness, and more than this text box can fit. :