We all tell pathetic lies to ourselves all the time. As for me, that is everytime I tell myself and basically all of my drinking buddies that I will never go near any alcoholic drink again. Two nights later, one of them, with one of their hands pulling my hair, would see me puking all over a toilet bowl.
But most days, I am sober.
I would wake up at around 5:45 a.m. to get to the bathroom before my roommates did. Heavy breakfast is not required for me to get myself to work, but a good cup of brewed coffee and two pieces of perfectly baked pan de sal would do. But who am I kidding, right? A cup of coffee and two pieces of bread would not suffice for an entire day’s worth of stress and struggle as I monitor shipments, generate purchase requisitions and schedule deliveries for our clients.
Having a fast-food-induced morning has been my addictive vice since I realized there’s barely a way out from shouting customers and pressure from the sales department, when you are doing what is supposedly a shared task that has eventually become a one-man job.
At lunch, I would drown myself with this seamlessly blended mixture of soy sauce, chili pepper, black pepper and lime that I would drench on either a chicken barbecue or a preserved milkfish. Some days, I would opt to challenge myself to finish an order of tasteless chop suey or overly bitter sautéed bitter gourd. Every lunch break commences with a hardly full stomach and piled up e-mails from clients and internal customers who seemingly work with no lunch break at all.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I notice that people tend to bombard you with inquiries that are oftentimes nonsensical and time-wasting when you are just about to shut down your laptop, or say goodbye to your colleagues. But like everyone else, I have no choice but to act as a customer service representative all the time. I’ve probably mastered the art of transferring calls, forwarding e-mails, and assisting basically everyone with basically everything they need.
But the ultimate survivor challenge doesn’t end there. It’s every commuter’s nightmare to be stuck on the way home in heavy traffic. The faces I see every day at day’s end are the same faces I see as I go to work every morning, but just a little different. Some of them look like they’ve won the lottery, perhaps because they got the promotion they’ve been waiting for. Some of them look like they got robbed—who knows what their moody boss had told them this time, or what new rumor their officemates had spread about them?
At home, I enjoy the luxury of living separate from my family. I have control of almost every aspect of my life, except the things I opt to religiously share with my family. The food I eat, the clothes I wear, the things I buy, are all based on how I reckon things to be. But sometimes, living away from my family while having strangers in the bed next to me makes me feel hollow and sad and wanting more. I miss home most of the time, but I have to endure the 65-kilometer distance between us for a dream and a life that I am building, not only for myself but also for them.
Those are the moments when I want to go back to not being sober again. I don’t want the feeling of being alone at the end of the day, with people I barely know and food I barely eat at home, such as canned goods and instant noodles. The exhaustion I feel after a day of work makes me want to just sleep and wake up two days later. I hate feeling the same weight of emptiness in sobriety, that’s why I resort to going out with friends and their friends I barely know. Once the alcohol kicks in and my lungs are filled with cigarette smoke again, however I miss my family and home, the feeling disappears for a while.
Alcohol makes me forget that I have to wake up the next day to eat in a fast-food restaurant alone for breakfast, and hustle at work like I feed a family of 10. It makes me forget, even for just a couple of hours, that at lunch I’m forced to compare how my father’s cooking skills can never be beaten by the one who cooks our packed lunch. Alcohol makes it easier for me to fall asleep at night, without missing the room and bed I grew up in.
I’m writing this while I’m sober, but I’ll probably go out tonight to have a beer or two. Or a bucket. Perhaps not. But I’m sure I am going to ditch my sobriety again one of these days.
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“Jade,” 20, is import-export coordinator in a logistics company in Parañaque.
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