Title: Miranda's New Addiction
Fandom: Devil Wears Prada
Disclaimer: I own nothing. You know this.
Note: This is a response to mxrolkr and her prompt "Miranda's New Addiction" in the Poke-The-Dragon Comment Ficathon. I know without a doubt that this is not what you probably had in mind, mxrolkr, but here it is anyway.
Miranda's New Addiction
I don't know when it started and I don't want to know. For as long as I can remember, it's always been this way so what good would counting backward to a specific date and time do?
Each night, when seven o'clock rolls around, I somehow end up with a drink in my hand. There's a liquor cabinet to the side of my desk and wine in the executive kitchen.
Lunch meetings always come with drinks.
Brunch meetings always come with drinks.
The townhouse might as well be a liquor store.
Everything always comes with a drink, and I have the nerve to pride myself on being one those 'high-functioning' alcoholics. My children don't even know. In fact, the only person that ever knew was Stephen. We made for great drinking buddies. Unfortunately, he wasn't so good at the 'high-functioning' part, so the buddy system didn't work out in the end. When I started bitching about it, he started bitching too and one thing led to another and…well, trading blows over the whole thing was unseemly. I'd been upset about the divorce at first but, really, it was for the best. And I'm not very good at physical altercations, as it turns out so yes, divorce was the only option.
Drinking alone is far less dramatic.
When I hear the words, it's like a brick to the face. Not that I've ever been hit in the face by a brick, but this has got to be the way it feels.
"Why would I ever tell Miranda how I feel? I can't compete with a bottle."
That's what I get for leaving my cellphone on my desk. Those are the words I get to hear when Andrea thinks I'm long gone.
I can't compete with a bottle.
How could she know? How could Andrea possibly know that I'm a prideful, high-functioning alcoholic? And if she knows, then God, everyone must know. But that doesn't bother me. I don't care what other people think.
But she knows…and she won't compete. She won't take the risk.
It makes my head ache. It makes my chest ache.
I need a drink.
For days I try to regain some sense of normalcy. Some sense of, "I don't care," but I can't quite get to that place. It's far harder to do than it should be. After all, I am a genius when it comes to self-manipulation. If there really is such a thing, I'm a genius. A high-functioning genius.
All I can think about is the competition I'd be willing to participate in. Which is terrifying. Maybe there's some way I could convince Andrea that competing wouldn't be necessary? I can be a high-functioning genius and love her at the same time.
Then again, I know I'd never step so far as to make her do something she doesn't want to do. This is different. This isn't Paris Fashion Week. It wouldn't be what she wanted and my hopes with her would end badly.
I probably wouldn't survive it. Losing would send me to a place I'd rather not visit.
Nothing tastes the same anymore and I resent her for it.
This is all her fault. My addiction is being unwillingly tampered with and I don't think that's right.
Tonight, I think I'll overdo it just a bit.
Over doing it turns into being late to work for the first time in decades. So late that Andrea calls to see if I'm actually going to show up. Resenting her is clearly a mistake. Without knowing it, she's punished me for it. Her voice, full of worry, is a punishment.
I still can't make myself not care. I still can't make myself think about anything else but a competition. What if she were to win? What if I let her win?
I shut that thought down in seconds. After all, I tried twice a handful of years ago for some reason that I can't even remember now, and it didn't work. Not even for my children… It didn't work and that's okay because I'm high-functioning, prideful, and very busy.
She spends all day fretting over me and I can hardly stand it. For the first time in a long time, I want her away from me. Out of the office. Out of the country. I stop short at thinking about being resentful all over again. That would be a mistake. I cannot resent her. She hasn't done anything wrong. All she's done is draw a line.
She won't compete with the many bottles scattered all around my life.
People think I build walls. All I really do is slowly add onto a house made of glass; one bottle at a time.
Weeks have gone by and I still can't shake this. I'm past the desire to be resentful, having moved toward anger and that emotion is one I don't hold back.
Two of my favorite glasses suffer a gruel fate, meaning that Cara has had to clean up the mess. I won't be surprised when she quits. I know she's looking for another job. The twins will be devastated, but what can I do about it?
When the third glass breaks, I'm late to work again. And Andrea calls me again.
This time is much worse. I'm still hanging over the edge when she wakes me, finally, on the third try. In fact, I'm hanging so far over the edge that I actually apologize to her for not being on time.
Insanity. Absolute insanity.
I want to ask her why she's doing this to me when she's really not doing anything at all and when I get to work and see her face, I realize the possible resentment and definite anger is all mine. I own every bit.
When she brings the Book later on, and stays an hour to go over it with me, without being asked, I realize that I'll probably have to try again. I'll probably have to try again because I don't want her to leave.
I might want her to win.
The weekend goes by and then three days of work go by…and then I'm hit with another brick. She has a date. Andrea's old boyfriend is coming into town. I hear her tell Emily that they're not getting back together, though. It's a friendly gathering. Nothing like that.
But to me it's a date. To me it's terrifying.
Desperate to prevent this from happening, I do an awful and underhanded thing.
An hour before she's supposed to leave, I ask her to have dinner with me to go over details for an upcoming trip to London.
She agrees immediately, not even bothering to call her precious ex-boyfriend. She just texts him, makes dinner reservations and then shuts off her cellphone. The whole thing makes my chest ache. She shut off her phone…
I wonder if it's ever been shut off before. Something tells me that it hasn't.
Mid-way through dinner she must understand I'm not paying attention to anything she's saying. I've only had water since we sat down and it's probably written all over my face that I'm about to have a nervous breakdown right here in this restaurant.
When she asks me if I did this on purpose, if I asked her to come to this five-star restaurant just to talk about plane tickets and hotel arrangements, I almost have a drink anyway.
"I might have," is all I can say as my mouth aches for something ridiculously expensive to rid myself of all this.
Instead of getting angry, Andrea smiles and does the oddest thing.
She thanks me.
The following weekend I poke around a few websites with one eye practically closed. I cannot believe I'm doing this. But here I am. Looking at this website… All because she said the words, "Thank you."
I can't do this Alcoholics Anonymous thing. I just can't. The basis for it alone makes me roll the one eye that's reluctantly open. What meeting could I ever go to? This is not West Wing. I'm not Leo McGarry with some safe government room full of people that aren't my enemies. And even if that did exist somewhere, I just can't get my head around it. I don't think it would work.
Now this Smart Recovery thing…I might consider. Might. At least I don't roll my eyes, and after staring at the same page for an hour, I order the book. I might read it. I make a profile, too, and with a grimace on my face the entire time, I read over some message boards and some other stuff. It doesn't impress me, but I'm considering it anyway while reading a few things about depression like it's all on some kind of repetitive loop.
None of it makes any sense and takes two drinks just to get through.
Hypocrisy at its best.
Wednesday, I find out this Nate boy is still in town, wanting another date. It's official: my hearing is excellent. In fact, it's so excellent that I hear Andrea tell him no. Apparently she's got other plans.
She doesn't. I have to stick around until nearly midnight and she stays with me the whole time.
But he calls back on Thursday and I can hear it in her voice. She's thinking about going and I just want a drink. Badly. And apparently my hearing isn't as excellent as I thought because I never hear her say 'yes' or 'no'.
Waiting for the Book is torture. I know she's bringing it but that doesn't mean she's told him 'no'. Andrea could very easily bring the Book and still go on a date. Instead of leaving though, she takes the liberty of staying again to take notes as I fix what will no doubt be a mess.
I barely get the wine bottle and corresponding glass hidden in time and that's when I know that if I'm going to do this, I really need to get my ass in gear. Allowing the thought to cross my mind puts me in a complete panic. But it's the truth. Before she runs off, I've got to get started.
Before she runs off, I've got to become something that doesn't require a competition.
Letting Andrea know what I'm doing on Monday is easier than I ever anticipated.
I stay in the office all day, cancelling a lunch meeting in order to do so and push everyone to the brink of exhaustion to keep myself busy. When seven o'clock comes, I have one of the worst panic attacks I've probably ever had in my entire life and open the liquor cabinet by my desk four times.
The call to Nigel is made out of pure desperation. I haven't really thought this through, have I? So much for being a high-functioning genius. How am I supposed to get rid of all this?
So I call Nigel and offer the contents of everything in my office and the kitchen, too. He doesn't say a word in reply. He just comes marching in and I retreat like the biggest coward in the world to my bathroom. He knows. He's known all along.
While I'm busy having a true breakdown—tears and all—he takes everything. The liquor…the goddamned cabinet…the wine…and the cute little rack I got in California a few summers ago. Bastard. He takes it all and I hate him. Then, I figure out fifteen minutes later, that of course, Andrea's seen him do every bit of it, and I don't hate him.
Now she knows. So how can I hate him?
Caroline and Cassidy are at their grandmothers and I sleep on the couch in my office. I'm too afraid to go home. There is someone there though. Nigel is searching my house from top to bottom and carting everything out. Or pouring it all down the sink. Who knows? I don't want to know…
For the next few months, I'm basically unfit to be around. Well, isn't that usually the truth anyway? But seriously, I am worse than any beast the Devil could conjure up. And of course, I'm horrible to Andrea. I can't help it. For months I treat her like shit but she says nothing.
In fact, she doesn't do anything but keep me supplied in jellybeans and soft-drinks.
By the end of this, I'll either be drinking alcohol again, or I'll be a high-functioning sugar addict, having traded my old addiction for a new one.
I've lost count of how many panic attacks I've had, or have. Why am I torturing myself like this? It would help if I saw a counselor. I'm absolutely certain of that, but I just can't do it. I can't open my mouth about it so I read that stupid little book every other day and pour over the website every other day and keep breathing.
Breathing has never been so difficult.
I almost miss it altogether but eventually there are a couple of days, here and there, that I don't think about it or get that taste in my mouth. Like I'm treating myself, after each of those days, I ask Andrea out to dinner and like a reward, she accepts.
But that's all that happens. I don't say anything about…anything. We don't talk about anybody competing with a bottle. We don't talk about how she feels about me or how I feel about her. Sometimes it feels like we do talk about it though, and it makes my chest ache. We're very good at dancing around the subject when the mood strikes.
There are times when I get so tired of the temptation that is literally around every corner of my life. It's not like I can get out of those brunches, lunches, parties or anything else. I can't quit my job and half of that is to be out in the public eye. All this means that I spend an awful lot of time staring at alcohol.
Andrea must have been born with some kind of sixth sense because she seems to follow me everywhere when the temptations will knowingly be past a certain level. When it will be the hardest, she's right there beside me.
Maybe a small part of her is competing anyway?
I just hope she knows she's winning.
This has been the longest year ever. I swear to God time has slowed down five times over. The ironic thing is, I never wrote down the date but I know instinctively when it arrives.
Tonight we'll all be at yet another party. Some benefit for some organization I'm already trying to forget about. That's horrible of me I know but I can't help it. After so many years, these things just blend together and the monotony of it all kills me as the minutes tick by.
Andrea doesn't stick close by tonight. She really doesn't have too. This isn't a Runway event and surprisingly, even if it was, I'd remember everybody's name most likely.
In spite of nearly dying a million times, I've become even better at the high-functioning genus gig.
Half-way through the night, I've had enough and make my escape to a little semi-private space down a lonely hallway upstairs. It's not about temptation, just the people. Too many voices, too much noise.
Escaping turns into a quiet celebration.
Andrea appears just a few minutes after I get comfortable. How she's managed it, I'll never know but there is a bottle of Coke in her hand and a bag of jellybeans. And she's got the biggest smile on her face. For a split second I can't remember ever taking a single drink in my life and breathing feels like something I'll have to read up on to ever do again properly.
She sits down right beside me and with no hesitation whatsoever, she says, "Congratulations," as she hands over the sugar.
Apparently she wrote it down. Or maybe she didn't have to. Maybe she just knows, internally, that this day a win for her.
It's a win for me too. I know that now. At first I didn't think of it like that. At first my only intention was with her in mind, but finally I figured out I was doing this for me more than anything else.
I figured out that I was worth it.
We share the Coke and the jellybeans. I have trouble with the words but I thank her. I thank her for everything. The prideful part of me would like to say I did this all by myself. No meetings. No counseling. Nothing. Just me. Yet, for the sake of reality, I have to admit that I had a lot of help, so I thank her. Ironically, she fluffs that off right away.
Her pride in me is astounding.
Instead of arguing about it, I take a tiny step forward and say, "I'm probably going to kiss you by the end of the night, Andrea."
For an eternity she simply stares at me, which is worrisome. Does she not feel like she used too? Did I not do well enough? And that's silly. Did I not do well enough? Silly. Really silly.
Even if she doesn't feel the same way now, I've got to be glad I did this.
"Well," she says. "I'd really like to go for ice-cream first. Then I'll kiss you back. But I really need some ice-cream. I haven't had any in a week and I'm dying."
I can't stop laughing. I just can't. She's addicted to ice-cream. So addicted that she won't kiss me back without it. This is the most precious 'non-parental' moment of my life. In fact, it's so precious that I disregard her requirement and kiss her anyway. I don't care if she kisses me back.
But she does.
Andrea does kiss me back and the glass house I've been trying to tear down in these past twelve months, crumbles completely.
And later that night, I do get her ice-cream. After pestering me about it five times in between more and more kissing, I have no choice. I doubt such a well-dressed person has ever entered a convenience store and I know I've never spent so much money on Ben & Jerry's.
And I know I've never been this happy.
I know that for a fact.
Note: AA isn't for everybody. Smart Recovery isn't for everybody. They help millions of people every day though—so give them a try. BUT –know that if you don't, and beat this thing anyway, there's nothing wrong with you. Sometimes I meet people who totally act like I'm the worst person in the world because I'm over two years sober and have never stepped foot inside an AA meeting. I don't understand it. Oh, well. It's just not for me. I know this. But don't take that to mean I didn't have help—because I had a lot of help. I had Laurie, Gun, Peet and so many other people in my corner every day and still do. I had this too, the writing. And I went to some counseling…and I had a lot of panic attacks and deep depression. But I did it. Oh, and I ate a lot of sugar. I'm just now getting to where I don't consume several boxes of Gobstoppers a week. My dentist is pissed :o)