Welcome to my World

Where else can you get a really good look at a train wreck of emotional dysfunction
and not be right in the middle of the thing?


Monday, April 20, 2015

When You Follow Your Dreams

Once again I want so badly to drink tonight: have a six or two of beer, smoke a couple of packs of cigarettes, play some video games.  (You'd think I could just play video games alone, but my anxiety and poor mood have to be artificially smoothed out to open the pathways of pleasure.)  I'm not going to, but I gave it a few seconds serious consideration on the drive home.  It hasn't even been a bad day.  I got a lot done at work, but it was a long day and a challenging day.  And then I come home to nothing but a seemingly endless stream of more shit that needs to get done.

As good as I've been on all fronts, I have to resign myself to the fact that the progress I'm making with all of my current challenges is necessarily small and incremental.  I'm so programmed by books and movies into thinking that I'm one montage away from a perfect existence.  But I'm not going to lose all of this weight...or get out of my massive debt...or sort my fucking life out (mate) overnight.  It will take continuous positive steps and strides—day after day after day—with no great reward, no crashing cymbals, not even anyone else to acknowledge it.  That's what I have to wrap my head around. The dramatic alcohol-down-the-drain / flushing-the-pills / pitching-the-cake-and-donuts moments are the easy part, the gratifying part.  That's why I've done them over and over again 10,000 times in the past 30 years.  It's the follow-through that is the hard bit, and that which remains undiscovered country for me, even well into middle age.

You turn to find the light has faded
You wonder what it was you were reaching for
How quickly you have lost your way
It's always when you think you've got it made

You take one step after the other
At times you may not know which way to go
You open one door just to find another
Someday you will begin, begin to know
{Missing Persons, "The Closer That You Get"}

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Master Plan

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
{Albert Einstein}
 
I have a master plan for my life.  I've always had one for these pipe dreams that I've nurtured and kept alive for over 30 years of bitterness and disappointment (as not a single one has come true).  As battered as my hopes are, if I give them up, what reason do I have to soldier on?  I feel as if I'm moving in the right direction because, for the first time in forever, I've been able to sustain month after month where I'm not undermining or sabotaging my own progress in some way.

But I'm so damn tired of dealing with my mood.  I so often feel I'm at the breaking point, the same breaking point that has derailed me again and again in a pattern of failure over a lifetime.  I'm still amazed at how many emotional crises I've weathered without trashing my sobriety, but my mood problems predate my addiction problems.  They caused my addiction problems.  I honestly can't offer any rational basis for a belief that, if I only stay the course a little longer, I will one day wake up to a mythical promised land where my perspective is sanguine and my life is in control.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Erstwhile

My erstwhile cat Fiona had her litter of kittens, but she and they are no longer with me.  Since 99% of people won't understand where I'm coming from (or perhaps, more accurately, that I'm not up to the task of making clear my perspective), I won't bother to explain what happened.  The short version is that there were some health issues, but now everything has been resolved.  Fiona and her four kittens are being fostered by a dedicated volunteer until all five of them can be eventually re-homed.

I thought that a new cat and the new life of kittens—life I had no responsibility in creating but could nevertheless nurture and take care of—would energize and enrich me as I enter a phase of protracted sobriety.  It was simply my fault for thinking existence could be something other than cruel, ignominious and worthless.  (To me, what little pleasure can be squeezed out of life simply isn't worth the suffering endemic to existence.)  I once again descended into realms of emotion that I had never wanted to see again.  I try so hard to deceive myself, like everybody does, but the cold, hard facts of reality are always there lurking in the background.

The State of Things

Even though I started the day feeling better after finally getting some sleep, I spontaneously burst into tears at work yesterday afternoon.  No one saw me, but that's less than optimal professional behavior.  It happened again at home last night.  But tears are useless, as is grief.  The only thing that astounds me is that I managed to get through with my sobriety intact.  It certainly wasn't my intent at the time.  I had every notion of drinking as soon as humanly possible once the dust settled.  But for some reason I didn't.  I can't really credit good judgment or strength of character, but I'm glad of it all the same.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mind Fuck

Just in case you were accidentally feeling happy, content and secure...

Much as I've enjoyed my recent discovery of VNV Nation, the video below really kind of freaked me out, between the philosophically-heavy, melancholically-downbeat song and the depressing, bizarre, uncanny-valley animation:

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tenderhearted

http://www.peanuts.com/

I'm feeling emotionally fragile, not surprising after spending seven hours at work on Easter Sunday trying to get shit sorted.  It's not so much that I have an inordinate amount of stress in my life as I am spectacularly ill-equipped to handle it.
 
The caffeine thing hasn't worked out, but I did manage to make it two and a half days.  (Have I mentioned that I've gone over six months without alcohol?)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Six Months Sober

For the first time in a long time, I've managed to remain sober for six whole months.

It's non-alcoholic champagne...
I definitely wasn't sure I was going to make it, however, especially when I was almost black flagged on the last lap.  On Tuesday, after the second shitty day at work in a row, I was cycling through impulses of self-destruction, breaking my sobriety and/or telling my employers to go fuck themselves.  My job is fairly demanding, and work has been tricky during my latest effort at sobriety because the depression and cognitive deficits of my post-acute withdrawal syndrome have put me so far behind and let so many things slip through the cracks.  Even though my symptoms are much milder now, they're still present, and it's been daunting to catch up and manage everything.

Presenting Miss Fiona

I had intended to wait awhile before adopting another cat after losing my last one.  But then one dropped in my lap through a friend of mine.  She's an absolute sweetie, and we've become fast friends.  I named her Fiona after a character from my favorite video game series, who is the mother of my favorite character.  I chose a mother because my new kitty is pregnant.  (Plus, her markings make her look like she's wearing a mask.)  Even though I'd never breed an animal (or create a life myself), I'm nervously excited about some kittens running around.  Hopefully I am up to the task of finding good homes for the ones I don't keep.

Fiona and her namesake
Jumping Off the Horse

I am trying to give up caffeine in an effort to rid myself of everything affecting my arousal and mood after alcohol and drugs.  (My three daily prescribed psychotropics, notwithstanding.)  I want to see what my life can be entirely devoid of recreational chemicals.  However, I don't know if it will last since caffeine was kind of my last crutch, and I'm not sure I'm strong enough to live without it.  It's been over two days, and the withdrawal has been a lot less severe than I expected, given my previous habit.  Mainly, I just feel tired, lethargic and unmotivated.  That's so close to my default state that I've hardly noticed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

And Another Thing

Shut up, you American.  You Americans, all you do is talk, and talk, and say, "Let me tell you something" and "I just wanna say."  Well, you're dead now, so shut up!
{The Grim Reaper, The Meaning of Life}

I seem to be awash in trite, hackneyed self-pity.  Last night I found myself saying (to myself), "No one understands me!"  *sigh*  Sober me isn't shaping up to be much better than drunk me.  At least drunk me remembered less.  Pill-popping me even (occasionally) got shit done (until the inevitable downward spiral...in flames).

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Over and Above

Because every single aspect of my life is in arrears, I can't just make measured progress; I have to kill myself by going over and above in order to make any kind of a dent in my situation.  I can't just spend wisely; I have to mind every penny in order to pay down my mountain of debt.  I can't just eat sensibly; I have to starve myself to shed the 50 pounds of fat I've been carrying for over five years.  I can't just organize my apartment; I have to weed through years of neglect to get a handle on things.  I can't just start writing; I have to slog through 30 years of chaotic, hastily written notes and half-formed ideas.  I can't just put in a fair day's work; I have to work before hours, after hours, on weekends to catch up on all I've let get behind.

Always by myself.  And keep going.  And keep smiling.  And keep sober.  All for the fantasy that I might one day enjoy life more than I do now or ever have in my past.  I'm sick of the stress of it all.
 
Work Sucks
 
Late night, come home
Work sucks, I know...
{Blink-182, "All the Small Things"}
 
Speaking of work, I try not to complain overmuch about my job in this blog, even though I don't really have someone in my life to vent to.  Mostly my hesitation comes from a irrational fear that my comments will somehow come back to haunt me and cause me trouble.  Anyway, it's been a pretty shitty day, capped off by my painstakingly-worded e-mail—so as not to offend those delicate egos—being responded to with passive-aggressive vitriol.  Since I'm a powerless serf, there's really not much I can do except fume.  It's been a surprisingly difficult test of my resolve not to drink, especially since I'm fed up with struggling with my fucking mood.  Why shouldn't I just drink and snatch what little pleasure I can from this miserable, boring existence?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why? (Part 2)

"Why?" has to be the most fundamental human question of all time.  Was there ever a person who, at one time or another, didn't shout out to the cosmos and ask, "WHY?"  My personal "Why?" is why do I have to struggle so constantly with my mood?  Why do my actions, no matter how ideal, have so little bearing on the way I feel inside and the conditions of my life?  Like all those before me, through the unifying thread of humanity, the only answer I get is silence from the "benign indifference of the Universe," leaving me nothing better than to walk the paths of constructed meaning as my opportunities and resources allow.

http://www.sothisisfitness.com/2015/02/why.html
(*Click for a link to an inspiring weight-loss blog.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Space & Time

Lost in thought on open seas
Let the currents carry me
If I could would I remain
Another life or another dream
No turning back, face the fact
I am lost in space & time
{VNV Nation, "Space & Time"}

A good friend of mine turned me onto the song "Space & Time" by VNV Nation, and it has officially become my new favorite song.  The music is right up the alley of my northern European sensibilities, and the lyrics spark avenues of wonder within my awareness.  We are all just consciousnesses cast adrift on the currents of space-time.  Are we pulled along forever—life after life—on its never-changing course?  Or are we ever free from its grip through ascendance or oblivion?

 
It's Too Late, Baby, It's Too Late
 
Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, it suddenly hit me just how old I am.  That may sound strange, but I think most people see themselves in their own heads as being younger than they are.  I'm 45 years old, not ancient, but no longer able to see "young" in my rearview mirror with my faltering eyes.  In five years—which is nothing to someone my age—I'll be 50 years old.  In my youth, I had no concept of what my life would be like at this point because I'd assumed I would have achieved all of my grandiose dreams by now, as opposed to absolutely none of them.
 
It's hard to express how deeply this angst has cut me.  Of course, it didn't help that I was feeling low and emotional all day yesterday.  I had well-laid plans but actually got very little done.  I burst into tears as I was putting Pfeiffer's bowl in the dishwasher one last time.  Hell, I was tearing up over The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, and it isn't even that great of a movie.  I keep excusing my continued lapses in mood as part of my protracted sobriety, and maybe they are, but when do I actually get to feel better and reap the benefits of self-control?

Too Much Baggage
 
Last week I purged hundreds of e-mails from my personal account.  I'm something of an intellectual hoarder: I find so many different things interesting and try to keep them all on my radar in order to eventually process them and perhaps incorporate them into my life in some way.  I had over 500 e-mails that I'd kept "unread" and well over 1000 e-mails in all.  Many of those were news and science articles that I'd e-mailed to myself.  But I'm tired of the accumulation from my past blocking my future growth, so I went through with a merciless resolve and paired things down to 55 "unread" e-mails and a couple hundred total.  (Rome wasn't built in a day.)

Unfortunately, my defeatist brain won't let me enjoy even such a cathartic personal victory for very long.  How many times in the past have I been convinced that I was on the threshold of turning my life around, just as I tell myself that I'm on that threshold now.  But 30 years of false starts doesn't make me overly optimistic, and I get quickly overwhelmed by monumental nature of the task.  In fact, I became a raging, binge-drinking alcoholic so late in life because I'd basically given up on my dreams, and that was my solution for getting through my evenings after work in order to do it all again the next day, day after day until days turned to years.  I remember another good friend of mine talking about one of his professors in college and his making the facetious, sardonic comment that said professor "probably drinks a fifth of scotch just to make it through the day."  And oh the irony of my 20-year-old self's disdain and smug confidence that such a fate could never happen to him.

I doubt anyone's life really turns out how they planned.  And if it does, then our contrary human nature makes us question if that's what we really wanted.  What can any of us do but press ahead and make the most with what we have?