Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Still a Drunk

In July of last year, I derailed about two years of sobriety when I had a couple of beers on the way back from a trip to Los Angeles, but I never went anywhere with it. Unfortunately, I've had two periods of serious drinking this year. Once in the spring and once for several weeks at the end of summer. I managed to sober up with a poor man's detox by staying at my parents home while they were out of the country for a few weeks in August. Keep in mind that the drinking and the detoxes were done while still working full-time and showing up every day. I've managed to avoid drinking for the past four months, though it's always there ready for me to fall back into.

And I've certainly been tempted. I realize that I’m always saying that my mood has been particularly bad lately, but I do have periods where my mental illness troubles me less. However, the past few months have generally not been such a time, and I have often struggled desperately just to make it through each day, flirting with passive suicidal ideation with some regularity. My psychiatrist has tried to make a couple of adjustments to my meds this year with no improvement, so I'm back on the same things I've been taking forever. I felt she signaled she'd pretty much done all she can for me when she finally just told me she was going to pray for me. I have recently started seeing a counselor and do think that's going well.

The Story So Far (Life Can Get Better)

When I quit my job three and a half years ago, I was certain that I would never find another professional job anywhere in Memphis. But that didn't bear out, and my situation has improved a lot since then. I found a paralegal job with a large corporation, and the work I do there and the situation in general makes it the best job I've ever had. I still have my baggage to deal with there, as anywhere, but they actually seem very pleased with my performance, which is always good. I also bought a condo a couple of years ago, which is the first time I've ever owned my home. I had to borrow the down payment from my parents, but I've never missed a payment to them or for my mortgage. All in all (though more through serendipitous generosity than my own steam), my financial situation has finally gotten to the point where I'm not living hand to mouth.

50 Is Not So Nifty

I turn 50 years old tomorrow, and no other "milestone" birthday has ever troubled me like this one. Being how I am, I fantasized throughout this year of all the things I would have done by the time my birthday came along: get in shape, get my condo of two years set completely, write the first draft of the young adult fantasy adventure book I've been working off and on for 30+ years, etc.  Essentially have my life "perfect" and be someone unrecognizable and basically not me. Obviously none of that happened. I was going to do a solo "spa day," but I just couldn't be bothered. I'm too jaded to try and set up some meaningful event (such as the phoenix tattoo I got on my 30th birthday) arbitrarily on an arbitrary day in a nihilistic and chaotic universe. I'll go have dinner with my parents, same as I've done the past ten years. I feel guilty and immature for not appreciating having parents who are around and interested in celebrating the day with me while simultaneously simply unable to stop from wishing that my life were ordered differently.

For the past few years, my train of thought has occasionally stopped cold in horror at the idea that I'm approaching this age.  I vividly recall something that happened to me in college. I was sitting at a table outside of a classroom building on west campus when I had a vision of sorts of my future: I saw myself waking up to look in the mirror one day, seeing the last vestige of my youth gone and having never achieved anything in my life that really mattered to me with all hope of hope gone. A vision indeed, prescient as it turns out, for here I am. I spent decades waiting for my "real life" to begin, and now my life is mostly over. I feel I’m forever doomed to be nothing more than flotsam on the stormy sea of my psyche.  I’m tossed around by my depression, tossed around by my fears, tossed around by my anger and tossed around by my endless, unfulfilled, unfillable need.  Until one day I’ll finally just expire a wasted life of wasted potential.