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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?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Keep Your P.A.W.S. Off of Me!

Hooboy!  Yet another close call with drinking last night.  I was bound and determined to fall off the wagon when I left work.  I managed to avoid temptation and distracted myself by starting a "perfect" walkthrough of the Mass Effect video game trilogy.  (If you're not a gamer—particularly an RPG gamer—then you probably wouldn't understand.)  Of course, I'm so mercurial that my resolve can go south so quickly.  But two weeks of sobriety is two weeks of sobriety.

I was reading about post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (P.A.W.S.), and I probably have a long road ahead of me.  Given my extensive alcohol abuse, I'm most likely looking at continued depression and anxiety as well as cognitive impairment for the foreseeable future, even though I should be through the acute stages of withdrawal.  Unfortunately, as I've pointed out repeatedly, disturbances in my mood cause me to panic and seek out avenues of pleasure, which often involve drinking.
Let It Go
It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
Let it go!  Let it go!
{Queen Elsa, Frozen}
My symptoms of continued withdrawal certainly hasn't helped my anger issues any.  Today I got enraged at a driver who honked at me as I was crossing the road in a crosswalk with the signal.  Then I just told myself to let the anger go and get on with my life.  Some people are just assholes.  You can't let their personality flaws poison your own view of the world and/or humanity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Struggle Never Ends

I was going to drink tonight.  I got as far as the beer aisle at the grocery store.  Then I wasn't going to drink.  Then I was.  Finally I bought some Cap'n Crunch and milk and left.  I know this sounds like a victory, but the problem is that I'll probably have to fight the exact same battle tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.  How can finite resolve ever hope to defeat infinite temptation?
My Inflated Sense of Self
you think you're in the movies
and everything's so deep
{The Cars, "You Might Think"}
The last time I drank, it was all very dramatic.  I was four beers into it on a Thursday night.  I'd played a few missions of my video game, and I just got so sick of the whole thing.  My drinking ritual gives me a modicum of fleeting pleasure, yet it becomes it's own kind of rat race so quickly.  I usually don't hold my cleaning up ritual until the weekend, but I just chucked everything into the trash: the rest of my beer, the empty bottles, my cigarettes, my makeshift ashtray and even my lighter and bottle opener.  I took a shower (I hadn't bathed in days), and before I went to bed, all traces of my vices were out of the apartment.
In a movie, that would signal the final victory.  The conquering of my alcoholism as I embark on a better life.  End of story.  Fade to black.  My major malfunction is that I honestly, deeply believe that that is how life works.   That everything neatly ties together into a logical, satisfying conclusion.  This is the root of my addiction to repeatedly falling low and rising up again, my lottery superstition and my mooning over contrived ideals of love.  Perhaps it's all just my psychological strategy for dealing with the true nature of existence - an abject chaos constantly battering against the fragile shelters of safety, stability and fulfillment that we construct for ourselves.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Slaying My Second Monkey

I am trying to get the caffeine monkey off my back this long weekend.  I'm tired of drugs causing me wild fluctuations in my mood and my arousal level.  So now that the acute effects of alcohol withdrawal are waning, (eight days sober!) I've gone back to being moody(er), cranky(er) and exhausted(er).  Actually, to tell the truth, I had a glimmer of optimism and hope for the future today, so that was kind of weird.  I've been getting weekly "lipo shots" for the past few weeks.  I don't know how much benefit they're actually giving me, particularly to my energy, but my friend Jon always told me never to underestimate the placebo effect.
My primary vector for getting my caffeine fix was caffeine pills because I don't really like coffee very much, though I did develop a taste for Starbucks' skinny vanilla lattes with an extra espresso shot for potency.  As expensive as their coffee is, it doesn't hurt my brand loyalty that they pay their employees higher than minimum wage and offer healthcare even to those working part-time.  Plus, their CEO recently defended gay marriage.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What Might Have Been

As I was driving into work the other day, I saw a man I went to high school with and on whom I had a terrible crush from the day I met him through all four years of closeted turmoil.  He is still looking handsome, and I recalled being drawn to his sardonic personality.  And I wistfully wondered how my life might have been had I hooked up with my "high school sweetheart" and was perhaps even still with him today.

This bridge was written to make you feel smitten
And with my sad picture of girl getting bitterer
Oh, can you extract me from my plastic fantasy?
I didn't think so, but I'm still convincible
{The Dresden Dolls, "Coin-Operated Boy"}
Except, of course, that he's straight and never once gave me any indication otherwise.  And he also never found me interesting enough in all the time we were at school together to even pursue me as a friend.  This is exactly what's wrong with how I've lived my life.  I've wasted so much time, so much energy, with pipe dreams I knew would never pan out.  Instead of opening myself to the possibilities that were actually in front of me, I opted to tilt at windmills.  I've missed so much mooning over the impossible, certain my mawkish faith would eventually be rewarded.
Linda thought her life was empty,
Filled it up with alcohol.
{The Nails, "88 Lines About 44 Women"}
While I've stripped away most of my juvenile man-fantasies over the years, I filled up that space with just...nothing.  And alcohol soon moved in as a distraction as I despaired at ever constructing a fulfilling life for myself.  Yet, I've still been living in fantasy:  about how my real life will start...when I get sober...when I get stable...when I win the lottery...when I become a completely different person than I am now.  Fantasy has sustained me for so long until it has become an integral part of my being.  Right now, today...Am I taking practical steps to pursue my dreams?  Or am I still chasing delusion to mask the void?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trial by Fire

Lately it seems as if Wednesday's are a trial by fire in my sobriety, a trial I have invariably failed.  The pattern is always the same:  I drink Wednesday through Friday.  Renew my resolve over the weekend.  Manage to stay on track for the first few days of the week.  Rinse and repeat.
As for today, one bad vibe at work, and my entire being is screaming to get drunk so that I can abandon all care, if only for a little while.

Evening Update

Well, I managed not to drink.  I blew my budget and my diet and blew off going to the gym, so I wouldn't exactly call it a victory.  But fuck me, I'm doing the fucking best I can.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Diminish and Yet Remain

(Galadriel) You offer it to me freely.  I cannot deny that my heart has greatly desired this.
{J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring}

Ugh!  You never know when temptation is going to drop down on you and test your resolve.  Today at work, I had the attorney for a man who came to our office for a deposition hand me his client's almost-full bottle of Vicodin because we'd asked him to bring it in.  (I swear, opiates are coming at me in waves!)  I proceeded to photocopy the vial label for one of the attorneys I work for...all alone in the copy room...by myself.  Of course, I didn't take any; I don't think even I could be that stupid, but the addict in me did have a momentary flash of weakness over the situation, kind of came out of left field.  Opposing counsel even made a crack as he and his client were walking past my desk that, if they came across me sleeping, they'd know I'd nicked one of his pills.  It was all very bizarre.

Dain Bramaged

I was reading about alcohol withdrawal in an attempt to make myself feel better about feeling Not Quite Right, and I made the mistake of reading about the potential long-term or even permanent effects of alcohol abuse.  Obsessive histrionics are normal for me, even at my best, and I have to admit that my first inclination was to drink tonight to chase off my worrying.  My brain is all I really have going for me, and I'd hate to have my alcoholism cut short my writing career before it's even begun.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

When You Follow Your Dreams

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
{Missing Persons, "The Closer That You Get"}

I felt as if I might implode today.  Job stress.  Family stress.  Interpersonal stress.  All backlit by my seemingly perpetual alcohol withdrawal.  I went into work to try and organize my desk, but I didn't get very much done before I had to leave.  I drove home—screaming in my head—and then walked over to the gym before it closed.  Half an hour on the elliptical gave me a perspective on things: I'm going to get myself ready for the week, go to bed early and focus on my job in the days to come.  Everything else I'm obsessing about can wait until later.

So Much to Give

I want to quote Carol's line in the middle panel to everyone I know.

My hypnotherapist in Los Angeles gave me a copy of The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs, which I haven't actually read it yet.  But like any member of a marginalized group, I don't have to look far to become angry and frustrated with the status quo.  However, I think my anger issues also have a more personal dimension.  I had a lot of na├»ve expectations for life that didn't bear out, and most cynics are idealists who found the world to be apathetic, at best, and brutish, at worst.  I appreciate that I only have "first world problems," but the struggles of the wider world don't make my personal struggles any less difficult.

Such a Good Boy

Day three of not drinking.

Opiates are actually my drug of choice, and the person living with me has Vicodin from some recent oral surgery.  I'm surprised at how little temptation I have to steal them, seeing as how that was my modus operandi for two and a half decades.  Maybe I've actually learned a lesson and remember how truly horrible opiate withdrawal is for me, so much that it might even necessitate a short leave of absence from work, opening up an infinite can of worms for me there.  Similarly, the other day I was over at a new person's house, the friend of a friend, and I made the conscious decision not to ask to use the restroom and then snoop for any narcotics that they might have.  Maybe I just don't want to be that person anymore.  I certainly wouldn't miss that aspect of myself.

And awhile ago, I resisted looking for pain pills I think my parents might have while over at their house doing laundry while they were out of town.  I definitely don't want to betray my parents' trust ever again, especially at their sort of age, and don't want them to question whether they should allow me a key to their home or to have distrust embedded in the foundation of our relationship.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

And Again *Sigh*


A hundred years of blood
A ribbon tightens round my throat
I open my mouth
And my head bursts open
Sound like a tiger
Thrashing in the water
Thrashing in the water
{The Cure, "One Hundred Years"}

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Limping Along

Well, I managed not to drink last night, so one down, 360 plus infinity to go.  I actually told myself I would drink on Friday night, and frankly, that may still happen, even though I woke up this morning glad I hadn't given in.  My diet took a bit of hit last night, but I didn't do near the damage I'm capable of.  I was also pretty good about my budget.

Pleasure, Little Treasure
My crisis yesterday came from the whisperings of the demon-incubus of Pleasure.  Depression, in general (and my withdrawal-induced depression, in specific) makes me lose interest in things that I might normally enjoy.  I began to feel as if I'd "never be cheerful again," and so then I started to panic, desperate for anything pleasurable to fill my evening after work. 

Since I couldn't muster any enthusiasm for any of the myriad of activities I'm lucky enough to have the time and resources to enjoy, my thoughts automatically turned once again to the drinking-smoking-video games triad as my only available source of pleasure.  However, as I said the other day, I need to retrain my thinking to stop chasing pleasure and fill my time with practical activities that will elevate my life into a more-fulfilling mode of existence.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Seeing as how I consider myself to be out of time, as part as my effort to do EVERYTHING RIGHT, I went to bed at a decent time last night.  Unfortunately, I'm only four days into my sobriety, so I'm still feeling the physical effects of alcohol withdrawal.  (In fact, being tired and unable to cope is one of the strongest factors in feeding the cycle of continued drinking.)  I was so zonked this morning that I incorporated the sound of my alarm clock into my dream.  I was yelling at someone to stop the noise and ripping batteries out of a device I thought was making it.
The video below shows just how I've been feeling at work this week.
11th Hour Emergency
I don't know if I can do it.  I don't know if I can stay sober in the context of my life right now.  I'm so tired and feel so low.  Perhaps I've just been fooling myself over the past 30 years.  Perhaps it's truly time to let all hope die...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My 90-Day Transformation

"I am simply out of time."
This is my new mantra.  I have wasted years in ethylated stasis, and I can't keep turning on the thread of maladaptive behavior and expect my life to change (although I do play the lottery, so...).  I am going on a family trip for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in August in exactly 90 days, and it would really mean a lot for me to be in shape for it.  I'd like to be able to wear a bathing suit and go swimming, which I've always loved.
And so I present my three W's:
1. Weight

I don't know how much success I can expect.  I doubt I have enough time to achieve my previously-identified goal (which was supposed to happen last summer!).  But if nothing else, I can be significantly less fat by then.  I'm not doing anything crazy or any fad diets as I've done before.  I'm just trying to be sensible by "eat[ing] less and tak[ing] a bit of exercise" through cardio mixed with light strength training.  I do obsess about loose skin, but there isn't a lot I can do about it at this point.  It's not as if I don't have other reasons to lose weight besides vanity.

Right now, my physical stats are weight (254#), waist (52"), chest (50") and biceps (13") with a BMI of 35.4 (making me definitively "obese").
2. Wealth

This is actually intimately connected to my weight and especially my sobriety.  If I'm following my diet, then I'm following my budget where it comes to food.  And if I'm following my "diet" (as my dad calls it), I'm not spending $50 a day on beer and cigarettes and movies and binge eating.  I'm not really sure how much I can actually pay down in 90 days.  I'm more concerned with not losing ground.  Even if my debt stays the same, as long as it doesn't increase, I'll call it a win.

Right now, my outstanding debt is $16,367.47 (not including the money I owe on my car payments).
3. Writing

This is a more ambiguous goal, but the most important thing to me in my life.  My goal for 90 days is to have all of my writing notes, boxes of ideas I've been scribbling down for 30 years organized and scanned onto my computer.  I want to have started back seriously writing the young adult fantasy adventure that has the most promise and commercial potential.
Feeding the Cycle
Back when I was sexually active, I used to hook up with random guys and then obsess about HIV for months, even though I've always practiced safer sex.  (To someone with O.C.D., a 1% chance—or even less—might as well be 100% by our way of thinking.)  One of my earliest therapists believed I got some kind of psychological reward out of the whole deal, because otherwise why would I keep doing it?  I think she's was right.  I think a part of me was seeking the sense of renewal and rebirth I felt when I got back a negative HIV test...as if everything in life was full of hope and potential.

I think I've fallen into a similar pattern with my drinking.  I can't deny the sanguine feeling I get when I clear out all my empty beer bottles by taking them to recycling and throw out my makeshift ashtray and leftover cigarettes and clean the area around my computer workstation of any trace of my last bender(s).

I need to stop chasing these false and counterproductive good feelings.  I need to retrain my thinking to stop chasing transient pleasure, even though my need for it is as intense as the "jonesing" for a drug, and to focus my personal time on furthering my personal goals.  I should be asking myself "Is this getting me closer to my dreams?" rather than "Am I happy?"  This doesn't just include the drinking...it encompasses the budget-killing eating out every night because I need a little pick me up...and the doubly budget-killing chair massages after work for sensual (though non-sexual) enjoyment...and paying for movies and TV shows because I only want what I can't have when I have a thousand free movies and TV shows available for instant gratification...and all the other things I spend money on for no good reason.

You won't have to read very far back in this blog to see that my past behavior patterns don't bode well for anything other than a crash and burn of yet another "grand plan."  But there is nothing better for me to do.  Please wish me luck...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bad Choices

Seeing as how I had a mind to devote an entire website to my poor decision making, it's not hard to fathom that I'm a prisoner of making bad choices now.  It's not even noon yet, and I'm already thinking about drinking again tonight...like I did last night...like I did the night before.  I've got a new video game installed and ready to play.  Is it a good idea?  No.  Will it give me even a modicum of pleasure that I crave so?  Perhaps.  I've realized that, even when I'm staying sober, I've been chasing pleasure like an addict, whether it's with food or entertainment or anything else—regardless of the cost—that I think will keep the sadness and fear at bay.

You Can Only Control Your Behavior

You have to change your behavior to change your life.  I have to move my thinking and my behavior away from the folly of chasing transient pleasure.  And yet I feel so lost and adrift in the endless ocean of my mood, barely keeping my head above water, that I have trouble in differentiating between good and bad choices against the perspective of an infinite horizon in all directions with no solid ground to anchor myself to.

...and when
I finally let my guard down

I was in the middle of the sea and drowning, drowning, drowning
{Lower Dens, "Brains"}

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

So Hard

I have been feeling so bad lately that I can just hardly stand it.  I can barely put one foot in front of the other, and yet I have to keep showing up at work and keep producing results and keep it all together.  I want to tell everyone I have ever met to go fuck themselves and run off somewhere, never to be seen again.
The problem with being so messed up is that I can't even be sure why things are so bad.  It could be that I'm withdrawing from my recent drinking last week.  Or it could be that I've entered another double depression.  Or it could be I'm fighting off a mild cold that has run me down.  Or it could be that my sleep is disturbed because it's been so hot in my apartment.  Or it could be an endless list of other physical and/or psychological stressors.
When I'm feeling better, I beat myself up over all the wasted time in my life, and yet I've had to spend so much of my time keeping my mood and psyche from bursting at the seams when all I want to do is scream!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Struggle Continues...

I thought hard about killing myself last night.  So much wasted time.  So much wasted potential.  And nothing to show for it but an endless bitter struggle.  I'm not actually going to harm myself, and I pose no danger to myself (or others).  I think the psychological term is "passively suicidal."
It's pointless to judge life in terms of accomplishments, anyway.  Time pulls the rug from under the "losers" and the "winners" equally.  Appreciating what you can now and pointing your nose in a better direction are the only sensible actions and the only sensible perspective on existence.
You're on a one-way ride
Down a dead-end street
You better realize
Never walk on by
{The Psychedelic Furs, "No Release"}
Personal Roundup
I drank Monday night, and then, after drinking Wednesday night, I spent the next 36 hours in bed.  I called in sick, of course, and viewed it as my own private detox before recommitting to sobriety.  Of course, that didn't stop me from almost drinking last night.  Fortunately, I managed to resist the urge and even did a load of laundry so I had some clean underwear.  Unfortunately, past victories are no indication of future success.