Tag Archives: Alcohol

Sober January? Sober 2021?

Well let’s give this a try again: sobriety. Despite the wonderful success of Sober September I took up drinking again in October and I’ve drank every day since. Part of this was justified (in the grasping-for-straws way us alcoholics are exceedingly good at); as a UPS worker dealing with the holidays I did whatever I needed to do to survive the season. And survive I did, even if I did have to make excuses to justify the alcoholism. Now that that’s done I don’t really have any excuses for drinking. There’s no drama, nothing to survive, nothing to deal with, only life itself. It’s that boring time of year where nothing happens at work, where life in general is in stasis until the warmer months, and when I wonder if humans have any small genetic and evolutionary tendency for hibernation. It’s the time of year post-Christmas/New Year’s where I just want to disappear until March when I feel like I can live life again. You know, go outside, exercise, get some vitamin D, get my general health in order, and enjoy existing.

Most of what I told my therapist last Friday piggybacks off this post (Adderall Sucks) where I argue that drugs don’t solve a damn thing. She asked why I wanted to stop drinking and I told her that it’s boring. It offers nothing anymore. I’d used to drink to get motivated, write, clean, and do whatever needs to be done — it worked as a general mood enhancer and motivator, and worked well — until now when it doesn’t do a damn thing but make me sleepy. I’m currently 10 beers deep and I don’t feel a damn thing. No motivation, no joy, no nothing, just some vague feeling of obliviousness which detaches me from reality. Like I guess I have to wake up tomorrow and go to work and figure out what my investing accounts are up to but that’s so far away that it’s an abstraction.

Not to say that the next few days won’t be difficult. It’s easy while drinking to notice that alcohol doesn’t do you any good but it’s another thing to be sober for an extended period of time. Booze has a way of working it’s way into your mind where it’s an ever-present solution to anything you encounter in life. Sobriety sounds great now, but what about in a few days when I’m depressed after work and feeling useless, bored, and a failure? That’s when the real challenge hits.

Trying to recall my lessons from Sober-September: Keep Busy. Alcohol has a way of keeping you occupied and in its absence you must have a backup plan to keep yourself distracted. I plan on reading. I plan on writing. I plan on playing video games in an obsessive manner because while useless and wasteful it’s still better than drinking. I’ll have to rely on my hobbies, whatever they are, to keep me occupied and sober, and how is that a bad thing in the long run? You can only improve and get better while working on hobbies.

Luckily I have a good support system. My sister stopped drinking about a week ago and tried to get me on board, but I didn’t want to start sobriety so close to the New Year because it seemed like it’d be a resolution; last year I learned that resolutions fucking suck. Plus, relying on other people doesn’t seem to work either; you’re being sober for them and not yourself. Despite this, having someone in a similar situation (with a similar genetic makeup!) does give you someone to sympathize to. Hell, I’m even thinking of getting a few coworkers to join me in sobriety to extend the goodness and support to others. And Sober September? Setting a time goal only seems to make you do good enough to “win” or “succeed” and then toss it all away. Rereading that post only convinces me that I’m more competitive than I am an alcoholic; I’ll be sober just long enough to prove how I can “win” without doing it for myself. This time I have no window of sobriety and plan on just going with for however long I do.

Let me not ignore my wife here either. While not prone to any substance abuse at all she does seem to somewhat understand the struggle in someone like myself. She’s obviously been wanting me to quit even if she doesn’t personally understand why someone would drink as much and as obsessively as me. She wants me as healthy as possible and despite being ignorant of how alcoholics are seems more than supportive in keeping me as healthy as possible. I’m positive that whatever I go through the next week she’ll be kind and understanding and work through me being grumpy, anxious, bored, combative, and sleep-deprived.

And my readers. Blogging doesn’t seem to have the network-supportive feedback that other forms of media do, but the numbers do hint at some form of quiet support. I check my views daily (probably unhealthily) and I can’t help but notice that my 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard post seems to always show up as one of the most read posts (along with that damn Watermelon one for some reason). It seems contradictory to be an alcoholic and have one of your most viewed posts be a list of reasons to not drink, but here we are. I like to think I’m speaking from a position of total honesty here — no one is perfect and while I know how stupid I’m being I have a total inability to not be stupid — and maybe that dissonance with what I’m saying and what I’m doing has some meaning behind it. If anyone is not perfect it’s me and I’m fully aware of it.

Disjointed rant there, but whoever reads this I’m sure will be supportive of the journey and the struggle. Everyone is in their own shit, dealing with their own unique struggles, and this is mine. So we keep struggling. Keep fighting whatever demons we need to fight. Lose over and over again but keep kicking and screaming in the correct direction. Fighting means you have will and life in you, that you haven’t given up, and that you still have spirit and vitality in you. We still know the way forward towards the dim light at the end of the tunnel. And even if it ends in failure after failure, each step forward is still a step in the direction that we know we need to head towards. I’m certain that we’re all in this struggle together and while the battles are different the war is the same. It’s fucking 2021; let’s kick the shit out of this year together.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Adderall Sucks

Work sucks. It’s boring. There are so many people on my shift and so few airplanes to load/unload. Maybe six flights in/out and 100 people to do the work. I think 50 would be a good number, but 50 is not my current reality: 100 is. I sit. I do nothing. I get antsy. I want to get out and run around because I feel like a hamster trapped in a cage. Untapped energy but a somehow a lack of energy from being so damn bored.

I already wrote about this and don’t want to go over it again, but my boredom is so palpable that I can’t help but stress it one more. This is my hell and it is a hell, let me assure you!

A person at work offered me an Adderall to help get me through these long and sleep-deprived days. I didn’t accept the offer the past few weeks because I know how Adderall affects me. While used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, Adderall is a powerful stimulant; it’s literally pharmaceutical amphetamine! If you don’t have these actual medical issues it’s meant to treat, you get wired and focused on the most random things. If you can channel the motivation, great, if not you’ll spend hours doing whatever the hell you find yourself doing without explanation. I’ve taken it twice in the past, never for any real purpose, and clearly remember how it affected me. The first time I taught myself piano for four hours straight. The second time I wrote the most elaborate physics paper for my class that I’d ever written. And today is number three…

I wrote my blog post about Christmas and am now writing this. Yes, two drafts in a single day. Because I’m in the zone! Because I have shit to say! Because I’m excited and motivated and feel good and let’s just keep on writing! Because I’ve channeled the energy that Adderall has given me! While it’s sad to know this is only temporary, I might as well make the best use out of my time as the situation allows.

But is it temporary? What if I just take Adderall daily and write? Can I get a prescription because I’m a writer with a severe lack of motivation? I bet if I wrote every day like today I’d have a fucking book done in a month or two. This is surely the best idea I’ve ever had.

No. No it’s not. I wasn’t being serious there. That’s a terrible idea. While I am sad that tomorrow I’ll be the same lazy writer that I always am, I’m aware that that is my natural state and there isn’t a good chemical fix that will magically work.

I’ve learned this through my functional alcoholism. Alcohol used to be my Adderall — drink a few drinks and I couldn’t wait to write — but the key thing to notice is the past-tense in that statement. I drink six beers and could care less about writing. I watch YouTube and play video games. The alcohol somehow doesn’t motivate me like it did a few years ago.

There’s always the urge to use substances to fix a problem (at least for me) and it’s a hell of an urge to fight because they work. There’d be no alcoholics if alcohol didn’t do something to fix you up. The stereotype of drinking heavily after a bad day at work, or after heartbreak, are stereotypes because alcohol works. You wake up the next day still aware of the trouble, but it’s more like a smeared chalk-board image of the problem that you can more easily deal with. Drugs work and that’s why people abuse them.

But substances only sidestep the problem and should only be temporary. This is clear in theory but difficult in practice. If it works, why not use it all the time? The catch is it doesn’t always work. You get a tolerance and the magic, whatever it might be, isn’t quite there anymore. This is especially bad with the physically addictive substances because then you’re hooked without any benefit at all. Cigarette smokers get quite a head rush the first time trying nicotine. It quickly goes away. Vodka mellows you out for quite awhile until you find you need more than before and it doesn’t mellow you out quite like it used to. And Adderall? Luckily I’m not addicted to it and never want to be. It’s the same as anything else. Adderall works until it doesn’t and by that time you’re probably moderately addicted and in a big mess when you try to stop.

Alan Watts said something like, ‘Drugs are a tool and nothing more,’ in one of his books, paraphrased obviously. He likened them to any other tool, like binoculars for example. Binoculars are fantastic for looking at far away objects, but if you think they’re so fucking amazing to use all the time you’re missing the point. If some asshole did walk around with binoculars attached to their face they’d run into some issues in life, just like the use-drugs-as-a-solution person does. The analogy goes pretty deep if you’d like to take it there. Binocular-Man, as we’ll call him, will probably have a rough time adapting, but he can do it. I once read a story about a guy who put a contraption on his head that swapped the images between his eyes where his right eye was seeing from the perspective of his left and vice verse. And guess what? After awhile he adapted and could live life normally. Apparently his brain dealt with the image fuckery and got to work doing what all human brains do: adapt. His vision was swapped, his brain adapted, and he was perfectly fine. 

Until he took the damn things off that is. His brain was dealing with more fuckery and despite seeing the normal way his entire life (minus the previous week) he was fucked. The world was fucked. He couldn’t see right. And then eventually his brain realized what was up and adapted back to it’s original state. I shouldn’t have to explain this analogy with reversed-vision-guy and binocular-man because it’s all pretty obvious how this applies here.

That’s my working theory on drug use/abuse. Abusers mistake the tool for the thing that will fix everything about them or their lives, myself included with alcohol. Users are those who can dabble and not become entranced by the drugs. I believe most drugs are useful, even the more esoteric stuff like LSD and DMT for mind and perspective expanding — not to mention painkillers like morphine — but all have limits on their uses. Adderall is great for allowing those with ADHD or narcolepsy to function better, but outside of that it’s also great for (illegally) allowing the sleep-deprived student and the unmotivated writer/blogger at UPS to finally get shit done. It’s really good at this too, let me assure you of that! But with that last example you can see this is quickly getting into the “tool-not-solution” problem from earlier. I have no qualms with the students using this drug to write a paper here and there, but it’s obvious it can go from tool to solution way too easily, once again because it’s so damn effective.

(Note: I talked with a friend about why it’s okay for an ADHD person to use Adderall to solve their issues but not for someone like me, and unmotivated writer, to use Adderall to solve their motivation issues. It seemed to come down to this: what is the best solution possible? ADHD is a brain chemical imbalance so drugs are likely the best way to solve the problem. Me with motivation? No, this isn’t a chemical issue but a ‘mindset issue.’ It’s impossible for the depressed/ADHD/chemically imbalanced person to ‘think their way’ out of their problems, so the only solution is a drug. Sounds like a beautiful explanation doesn’t it?)

To problem with my motivation is, well, a problem with my motivation. It’s a battle against myself. While Adderall is currently fucking kicking my motivation into high gear, it’s not the be-all end-all solution. The Adderall will wear off and I’ll be me, the flawed me, once again as always. The Adderall me can still exist with Adderall or without it. I can write like Stephen King suggests if I drug myself up, or if I just work through my issues with motivation. One is hard, one is easy — both work — but the easy one is dangerously temporary. So what’s the choice? What do I do?

Looks like I’ll sit my ass down tomorrow and try to write something sans-Adderall.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Hangxiety Sucks

November what? The 26th? It’s late November? Already? The demons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, peak season at UPS, the hell of Winter, and the struggle of buying gifts is already upon us? When did all of this happen? I’m not ready for this. It was only a few weeks ago that it was July and everyone was miserable in 100+ degree heat indices. Right? 

Sober September was great enough and it was the happiest I had been in awhile. I’ve said before in some post before that surprisingly I don’t have anxiety when I’m not drinking. It has been so long since I’ve been sober for an extended period of time that I’d just accepted anxiety as part of my natural state. Sure, Jeremy is somewhat anxious, but it was never a crushing and terrible thing that I couldn’t work through until I made alcohol a part of my everyday existence. But here we are and I have no choice but to deal with it and work through it. Life is always a struggle to fight through your problems and this is mine currently.

Sober September quickly turned into Intoxicated October and Not-Sober November which is where I am currently. And it’s the absolute worst time of the year to realize that maybe you should stop drinking, that it does you no good, and that it’s a crutch you use to limp on by in life. Fucking stand up on your own and live up to your potential, right? But it’s cold and dark and work is hell and stress is high and despite any meditation on the matter I can’t help but feel that life and everything is spiraling apart hopelessly. Add in the second/third wave of COVID-19 looming over all of us and I don’t even think I want to attempt sobriety just yet. I just don’t think I can pull off during this point of my life. Maybe I’ll just camp out until things finally fucking calm the fuck down…eventually…whenever that actually happens…maybe January?

Anyways, hanxiety. It’s a term I found on Reddit a few days ago and it has struck me with its personal resonance. If you can’t tell, it’s a portmanteau of hangover and anxiety which makes its meaning quite clear: hangxiety is the anxiety you experience while being hungover. Apparently the Irish have a term for it (according to some random Reddit user): The Fear, which is quite fitting really.

(Note: here’s a link that is pretty damn informative about ‘hangxiety.’)

It’s comforting knowing there are terms so fitting to my current state used by a massive part of the internet population. It removes the ‘personalness’ of the problem — maybe it’s not a problem with you our your mind but with the alcohol use/abuse and is something chemical — which makes it a ton easier to deal with. When there are a bunch of people experiencing the same crap that you do you don’t feel quite as bad about it as if you were going it alone and thinking it was some issues with you a person or something. All of us borderline alcoholics are in this together, in some nebulous struggle against a molecule of all thing, and it gives you a feeling of camaraderie. It’s not just you going it alone and a ton of us experience this ‘hangxiety.’

Apparently hangxiety is a medical side-effect of alcohol use/abuse. It’s as natural as any other drug side effects and it’s not something to beat yourself up over. Sure, you’re drinking way too much and may have fucked up temporarily, but the next day side-effects are as much of an issue of biology and chemistry as they are to your possible drunken texts to your ex, if you sent them or not. As said before: don’t beat yourself up over things if you can help it. No one who is prescribed opioids beats themselves up over the ability to shit (as opioids stop you from being able to take a dump) so us alcoholics shouldn’t fret over the next-day anxiety, guilt, and stress that we always experience.

(Big Note here: obviously alcoholics and those prescribed prescription drugs are totally different, but I’m trying to say don’t personalize the side-effects of the drugs you’re taking I guess.)

Alcohol is a depressant, and as the brain and body’s way of dealing with this is to increase the ‘flight or fight’ response of your body so you don’t die. By drinking you’re basically slowing everything down and your body speeds itself up with its funny tricks so you don’t pass away. It’s a battle of chemicals; as you dose your body with things that slow you down, your body increases the things that keep it going like cortisol: the stress hormone. Do you ever notice how you wake up anxious, on edge, fearful, and terrified after a night of drinking? Thank cortisol and your super-effective brain and body for this. You’ve dumped a bunch of depressants into your system and your body is fighting it and what did you expect to happen? Welcome to the hell you’ve brought upon yourself. And you have nothing else to do but accept it with open arms and own it because it’s all your own fault.

This is the hell I’ve been in for about two months now, and despite being in this hell I’m surprisingly adapting just fine to it. It sounds awful, but I’m used to waking up after four or five hours of sleep totally stressed out and feeling guilty for some unclear reason despite not drunkenly texting my ex or doing other silly shit. Sure, I didn’t do anything to feel guilty over, but the feeling is there and ever-present and it feels real. It’s hard to shake a feeling of guilt despite knowing you’re not guilty of a damn thing. I suppose with this outside opinion from thousands of Redditors I’ve detached myself from the hangxiety in a way. Yes, I was drinking a bit too much and brought it upon myself, but the hangxiety itself is just a byproduct from my stupid life choices and not a problem on its own. I wasn’t guilty, a failure, or held some vague form or regret for any real reason: it was just the booze changing my brain chemistry.

It might be the functional alcoholic speaking here, but I’m getting to the point where I totally ignore and disregard my hangxiety. It’s just a passing feeling and if I fight through it, chill out, focus on being at peace with my life, and I find I can get through it just fine. It does seem like everything in life is a tradeoff, and if you do accept functional alcoholism into your life you can still learn some sort of lesson about stress, anxiety, and depression even if it’s at the expense of your greater health. I’m not saying people should willing drink to induce the temporary hell that is hangxiety just to deal with general anxiety, but damn if I haven’t been learning things over the past few months about dealing with stress and anxiety.

As for my hyped-up, hopeful closing statement: if you are a total drunkard who wakes up after a paltry three or four hours of sleep totally stricken by The Fear: you’re not alone. While I’m not facing the actual problem of alcoholism here, I am trying to give you some comfort over your hangxiety. It’s just a temporary side-effect of drinking heavily and if you give yourself time and turn your thoughts over to more comforting things you’ll find that you can fight through it. Don’t fret, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal and you can work through it. Despite you bringing these feelings upon yourself, remember above all else try to love yourself! No one is perfect, you can eventually work through your issues, but please don’t put extra effort into beating yourself up! Hangxiety, while awful and difficult to deal with in the moment, is just a temporary effect of alcohol on your brain and body and has nothing to do with your mental state, even if you might think it does. Hangxiety doesn’t speak to your mental state or fortitude, security, or safety in any way and should be totally disregarded. Don’t put too much emphasis into how you feel in the moment and try your best to work through it. Like me, you might find that it’s not a big deal at all once you face it and deal with it the best you can. It’s only a passing shadow, or something…

Maybe it’s best summed up by Sam’s speech in the middle of The Lord of the Rings movies:

“I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.”

-Samwise Gamgee

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

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Substance-Free September Sucks: Books and Boredom

It’s time to write a blog post even though I don’t have anything in mind to write about. Hopefully as I write a topic will appear. Kinda like my month long streak experiment where somehow I was able to write something every day even if I didn’t think I had anything to say.

Substance-free September is going great, and I’m surprised how much my mood has improved. Apparently I don’t have anxiety issues when I’m not drinking, who would’ve thought? I shouldn’t say that though, anxiety is still around, It’s just manageable. Like I can feel tense or anxious about a situation but find myself acknowledging it and going along with it. “I’m very nervous and anxious but, oh well, there is nothing else to do but to face it head on.”

This is noticable in small ways. Take for example some paintings I bought from a garage sale last weekend. Garage sales are terrifying for me: social interaction with strangers, social protocol that I’m not aware of, it’s a big mess of shit that makes me uncomfortable. Yet I drove by a garage sale, saw a painting that looked interesting, pulled over, and contemplated if I was really going to go through with buying it. I was terrified and the coward in me wanted to find any reason to drove off, but I got out of the car, talked to the lady, and walked away with four pieces of art for $20.

I feel terrible for this. Writing about anxiety and how I turned into a big boy finally where I could buy something from a garage sale all by myself. But hey, I’m trying to be proud of little acts like this where I manage to get over my anxiety, even if it’s something as silly as buying art from a garage sale.

Reading and video games have been keeping me sane over the past two weeks. Boredom is one of the key triggers for my drinking (the others being stress and depression), so avoiding boredom is a huge part of Substance-Free September. To start, I purchased American Psycho and Lolita from Thriftbooks before the month began, ready to jump into reading in the evening to dissuade myself from drinking. One issue here: I’m a fast reader. I plowed through American Psycho within a week, and then turned to the third book in The Wheel of Time series to keep busy. Book three is whopping 770-page book (which I was halfway through) and I finished in a week and a half. Being a bit weary to jump into book five in TWoT series (1,000-pages…) what else could I read?

(Here’s a post I wrote about The Wheel of Time if you’re interested.)

American Psycho was a fucking trip, and one of those books that you finish and immediately think, “Wait…so what actually happened? Huh?” I think most people like ‘tidy’ endings to stories, but I love the random “What the fuck happened?” endings, and not just with books. Movies that end this way are usually some of my favorite films.

(Note on Thriftbooks: I used to buy all my books from Amazon until a coworker told me about Thriftbooks. They sell books (obviously) and you can get a wide selection of used books ranked by quality. This means you can snag books for literally a few dollars each and they even credit your purchases towards a free book after you spend a certain amount. There are two things I like about Thriftbooks: they’re not Amazon (Amazon is basically taking over the world so fuck them) and I love buying used books. Used books are amazing because 1.) you’re basically recycling books/they’re good for the trees 2.) they smell nice and have some ‘history’ to them 3.) they’re cheap meaning you can buy more 4.) I love physical books and can’t into ebooks and 5.) buying a used book that is terrible doesn’t give the author royalties. In short, Thriftbooks is amazing.)

I hopped on Thriftbooks today and purchased the next two books in The Wheel of Time series — books five and six out of thirteen! — as well as Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey and On Writing by Stephen King, both recommended by a certain reddit thread asking about amazing nonfiction books. Lolita still needs to be read as well as book 4 of TWoT. I should be able to keep plenty busy over the next few months and hopefully stay away from alcohol.

That was rambly enough and I’m not even drunk. What the hell? Anyways, I feel like leaving off on some grand lesson, something to note, and I don’t really have anything besides keep busy! I know any drug/alcohol abuser has their own certain triggers, and while I’m not representative of everyone, I should be representative of a good portion of alcoholics. A good percentage of people probably do drink out of sheer boredom and if this is the case it’s obvious for me to stress the importance of never letting yourself become bored enough to drink. Find a hobby and do something even if your heart isn’t into it. The past few weeks I’ve taken solace in reading, it’s relaxing, wastes a ton of time, and gets your mind and imagination working. I really don’t see anything bad about reading besides the time sink it is, but what else is there to do? Keep busy, do something, do anything, but do not get bored! Do not drink!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Alcoholism Sucks: The Slow Descent

So it’s 3:20 a.m. and I’m pounding my seventh beer. I feel slightly better about life but not quite okay with it. It’s a struggle to drink enough to feel okay with life but not drink too much to lose your mind to the drunken haze. And with every drunken day that passes that line becomes thinner and harder to follow with less margin for error.

I don’t even know what the point of this post is but I hope it eventually gains some direction. Typing is hard and I’m hitting the wrong keys all the time. Constantly smashing the backspace button to erase any signs of my drunken typing while desperately trying to stay on topic. Maybe it would be a fun project to let the errors stand as-is and just display it to the world: this is what drunkenness looks like. That’d be fun, right?

I find it interesting that many bloggers have a “recovery blog” where they write about life away from alcoholism while no one seems to document the descent itself, which even in the midst of beI find immensely interesting. No one signs up to be an alcoholic and everyone that ends up as such seems to be totally caught off guard that it could, or was, happening to them for years. I’m in the fucking depths of it and the world seems so damn twisted, confusing, and depressing that I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it could imagine it. Here there is no hope. Here there is no progress. Here there is only limping along day after day just trying to survive the best you can, beer after beer. There is no outlet. There is no escape. You wake up hungover and try to get to the evening when you can drink again. One more escape after the last, until something happens, something to change the addiction. Something to change the hell of life.

After the past like two months of drinking everyday I just don’t care to work on anything. I haven’t anything in the past month due to the drinking. Not that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s just that while being perpetually drunk it’s hard to string any coherent thoughts together. It’s hard to let your mind fester on a certain idea and let it lead to a natural conclusion. Alcoholism seems like a fucking blur: the past few days don’t mean anything, the past few weeks seems like a puzzle, and the past few months seems like some barely recountable dream that you’re not sure you actually lived through. When I try to recall the past couple of months I can’t seem to come up with anything. Sure, I lived through it, but I have nothing to show for it except vague memories, dream-like states and experiences, but it doesn’t seem like it was me experiencing them. It seems like someone else was there and I have no personal relationship with the memories at all.

The Descent

I don’t even know why I’ve been drinking so heavily over the past few months either. Surely part of it was due to my month long vacation and drunkenness, but besides that I have no idea. Well, maybe I am aware of a few other important issues but I don’t feel like discussing them here. There’s a bunch of stress in my life currently, and stress seems to be nearly as bad as alcoholism is. Stress wears you down and drains you, especially over long periods of time, and this is certainly part of it. Alcohol eliminates stress for a time, but it seems you must pay the debt back later. Any stress you eliminate with alcohol comes back the next day and if you continue to avoid it by drinking it’ll snowball into some intense hatred of life and anxiety, which only makes you drink more to avoid it further on.

It’s such a subtle descent that it’s difficult to realize how dangerous it really is. I had my first drink at the age of 17 and have fended off alcoholism until now — 17 years later. I’m 34 and never had any real issues with it — sure there were signs here and there but no obvious problems — until now. 17 years later! Half of my life I survived with a casual relationship with little to no abuse until now? Why did I fall at this time? What happened? If I wasn’t an alcoholic ten years ago, why am I one now?

For fucks sake, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. With 17 years of not really having a problem I let my guard down. I decided I could drink once per week in 2020 and was fine with controlling the demon until a few months ago. Then something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but here I am drinking every fucking day. What happened? How did I fail? How did I become this person?

You don’t even notice it. A drink here or there in social situations just to ease your anxiety. A few drinks on the weekends to help you unwind. A drink on a weekday to help you deal with a stressful day. A drink the next morning to let you deal with the hangover. And then a drink after work because it was a bad day. And then another drink the following morning because you’re hungover from the drinks after your bad day. And…and before you know it you’ve been drinking for a fucking month or two struggling day after day just to survive life itself. It happens so slowly that you don’t even notice it, but eventually you realize it’s there. It’s you. You’re the alcoholic. You’re the person you never thought you’d become. But here you are, at 3:47 a.m. writing a blog post after eight beers trying to confess your soul to some strangers on the internet. You feel like you can’t escape and you feel like you’re in too deep. How do you even escape the person you’ve become?

A Way Out

I talked to my therapist about this a week ago. I said I felt fine, that I was doing okay with depression and social anxiety and that I felt pretty damn good really, but that I was drinking every fucking day for some reason. She gave some vague advice that I loved, “Perhaps you’ve gotten over the past issues you were struggling with and now the next problem presents itself. Understanding is like an onion, and maybe you’re moving on to understand the next layer.”

I sat dejected on the sofa and joked asking, “How many layers does this onion have?”

And she replied, “The layers never end…”

“So it’s an infinite-layered onion? Well…Fuck.”

And this gave me hope but also with a slight tinge of meaninglessness. An infinite onion never allows you to reach the core –to where you never fully discover your true self — but maybe I’d moved on from my other issues to confront the next issue: alcoholism. Progress, right? But it’s still strange. You’d think as depressed as I was months ago I’d be drinking a ton then but no, somehow when everything finally started to improve elsewhere in my life the drinking became uncontrollable. So maybe this problem is manifesting at an opportune time, the next problem to solve, the next layer of my personal onion, and it’s up to me to face it.

Two of the supervisor I work with (whom I consider friends) mentioned something about “Substance-Free September” where they elaborated on giving up any substances they struggle with for the upcoming month. They looked at me and said, “Hey Jerm, you want to do this with us? Substance-Free September?”

I gave them a glassy-eyed stare as I knew the one thing I’d have to give up would be alcohol; I was dreading giving up my singular coping mechanism for life. They kinda laughed and I eventually choked out, “Well, I’ve been drinking every day the past three months so maybe I could give up drinking for a month, but…fuck...”

I had been so used to drinking everyday that I wasn’t sure I could do it.

There is a certain appeal to involving others in your life choices. It seems easier to be sober if you haven other people you’ve made a pact with. It’s not just me making choices for myself when I’m suddenly accountable to others. It sounds strange but I’m a very competitive person: if I’m in a “competition” I give it my all just to prove that I’m a badass and if it comes down to me not drinking for a month, I’ll fucking try to prove everyone wrong and beat their asses with sobriety.

And I think this might be a way out, at least a temporary escape from the haze of alcoholism, if even for a month. A competition, a deal, a pact between a handful of us at work that maybe we can try to make it through September without any of the substances we’re terribly depended upon. For one of us, it’s marijuana. For another one, it’s nicotine. Another person is hooked on nicotine and alcohol, but to a minimal degree for each of them. For myself it’s obviously alcohol, perhaps one of the hardest to stop because I’m so goddamn depended upon it, and I think I got the short end of the stick here. But it’s fine because I want a way out. I want to escape, and I think this might be my first step forward. I’m terrified of Tuesday, September 1st, where I might have to face the world in all of its terror and beauty without anything to cope with it all. It’ll just be me and over the past few months I don’t know if “me” can even deal with it without freaking out. But I’m ready to accept it, face the challenge, deal with the struggle, and toss myself into the hell of sobriety after being almost perpetually drunk over the past quarter year.

I suggest anyone who reads this considers getting on board with Substance-Free September no matter what your issues are. Maybe just as a commitment to yourself knowing others are in the same September sobriety boat as you are. It doesn’t have to be anything major either — caffeine, soda, meat, cocaine, xanax, sleeping pills, whatever you use as a crutch — because any tiny act to make your life better can pay immense dividends in the future. We can all be strong by being sober and dealing with live as is without anything to assist us but our own selves. Let’s do this guys and gals.

Cops Finding You Illegally Camping In the Woods Sucks

Note: This post is a mess. I originally wrote the first part while, well, sitting in a Rosecrance waiting room. I never got around to actually editing and posting it though. The draft of this was about three weeks old and I have some moderate frustration over the entire thing, like I went through hell a few weeks ago and think I could’ve made about five coherent blog posts about it all but just never gotten around to tying it all together. So it’s a mess. But this post kinda occurs after this post but before this post if you’d appreciate some chronological order behind it all. I’m serious, the narrative of my life is currently chaos but maybe I’ll make another post tying all of it together, but until then, here ya go.

To update anyone to this ongoing saga of mine: I’m in a Rosecrance waiting room right now feeling super sleep deprived and mildly hungover. And I’m not quite sure how I ended up here. It’s all a blur to me right now.

I slept better than the previous night but was awaken by a female saying something. I don’t even recall what she was saying. Asking if anyone was there, asking if I was okay, and maybe a few other questions that I’d forgotten. I mumbled “yeah” and groggily stuck my head out of the tent. And hey, the female speaking was a poliece officer. Fuck. Not something you want to wake up to at 8 a.m. after only three or four hours of sleep and heavy drinking. She had another officer with her, some dude with a fucking assault rifle. Jesus Christ! Was I imagining this shit? Nothing seemed clear in the moment. No: this guy was totally standing behind a tree with an assault rifle ready to unload the entire clip on me if I did something shady. Not something you want to wake up to, once again. To stress the point some more. Being shocked at sticking your head out of a tent and see a guy with a goddamn AR-15 behind a tree. Anyways, here we go. I fucked up. I was camping illegally in the woods and the cops found me. Whoops. And just to stress again that one of them had a goddamn assault rifle.

“Step out of the tent please. Do you have any weapons on you? I’m going to peek in the tent. Did you know drinking in a park is illegal? And smoking? Yes, we can’t have people smoking in the park; you could cause a forest fire. We can hit you with a ton of tickets.”

Fuck. Me. I was honest and told them that I was dealing with some marital problems and chose to hide in the park away from life and civilization and they the nice female cop were was nice and accepting enough to my plight. She agreed to not write me any tickets and they gave me 12 hours to get the hell out of the park. I didn’t know where I’d go for the next night but I had plenty of time to worry about it later.

My main fuck up was when they asked if I had any thoughts of harming myself. “Why, yeah, of course, here and there. But they’re passing things and I know I need to work through this. I’ll be fine. I’m in a good mental state really.”

Apparently this was not the correct answer. Once again it’s kinda blurry because I was so tired but they basically said, “Alright. Well, would you like to go see someone?” in that vague cop way where you’re not sure if you have a choice or not. I initially declined — “No, seriously, I’m okay. I’m not going to do anything,” — but then the female cop said “No, you really need to come with us.” Fuck. I didn’t think I really had a choice here. Tired and hungover and feeling adventurous I decided to YOLO it. I fucked up with my choice of words and I was being hauled off to a mental instituition. It wouldn’t hurt, right? Who cares, let me follow the adventure of life wherever it takes me.

They searched me for weapons and such and chucked me into the back of the cop car. She was nice enough and tried to talk me into religion while I pounded my Bang energy drink and vaped totally unhandcuffed in the back of the cop car. I was so tired, exhausted, and confused and just wanted to take a goddamn nap and relax. Like the last night was supposed to be the relaxing night where I finally succeeded in the woods and then this was happening. Man, life is shite.

I walked into the clinic along with my armed escort and plopped down with a silly smile on my face. I was totally lost and stricken by what life had just tossed at me. Was I really sitting here in a Rosecrance facility because the cops found me in a park, work me up at whatever a.m. hour it was, and thought I had mental issues. What? Really? I didn’t even know how to process the events of the day thus far. I felt disconnected with reality, feeling like a video game character experiencing life from the third person, watching myself outside as someone going through a really strange and disorienting morning. I could laugh about it in a way and I got my phone out to write a blog post about it, which is what I’m doing here. If my day is spiraling out of control, why not grab the demon by the horns and document it at least. Not like I had anything else to do. Just sit and wait feeling delightful detachment from what is confusingly my life in the moment: this is me and this is what’s happening to me and it doesn’t make any sense but holy hell this is my reality. It’s good in a way being able to view a terrible situation in an impersonal form where you can realize in the moment that wow, shit is crazy today. At least I’ll have a good fucking story to tell about it.

I talked to the counselor/therapist/whatever she was and did my best to prove that I wasn’t really suicidal and that those bad thoughts were just a natural reaction to what I was currently going through. Passing thoughts really, the random idea of how easy it’d be to go buy some rope and dangle myself from the trees that are naturally plentiful in a forest. Not that’d I’d really go buy some rope, just pondering how easy it’d all be to do, almost too easy in a way. The fact that you have so many easy ways out of life is really scary when you think about it. Luckily, she knew my current therapist on personal terms because she used to work there. I busted out the name of Michelle Johnson and she was instantly sympathetic to me. Yes, I was seeing some she knew and was on good terms with and, yes, I was making the correct steps to heal my flawed and utterly fucked-up mind. She seemed to thaw a bit during this revelation and things became much better after that.

She released me because obviously I wasn’t crazy or anything. I asked if I could go outside because I had a “raging nicotine addiction” and at first she was hesitant. If I wandered off into downtown rockford after I’d left it’d be her ass on the line. But she called the female cop again (officer Hodgkins I think) and she was only five minutes away, so she let me go get my nicotine fix. I sat on the sidewalk and vaped to my heart’s content pondering what the hell exactly I was doing with my life. Two days earlier I was happy and content and now everything was spiraling out of control and I felt like I was in a dream. Wasn’t I a writer? Wasn’t I blogger? Didn’t I have a job that payed well? Didn’t I have two stock investing accounts? Didn’t I have a college degree? Wasn’t I a fucking legit and certified commercial pilot? Wasn’t I successful enough and immune to any strange mental occurances in life? Is this what my current state really is? Wow, what a chaotic and hilarious mess; no one is immune to the problems of life.

Officer Hodgkins hauled me back to the park and drove like a fucking maniac on the way there. What sort of fuel mileage did these police SUVs have? It had to be dismal. She was stomping on the gas like we were in a race against someone and made strange radio calls about “Anna Page Park” and shouted out time frames and estimates. What would it be like to be a cop? I had no idea and my curiosity took hold of my mind. I tried to analyze and decifier what was being said and appreciate all the silly mundane and stupid pressures of her job. Hauling drunken campers with marriage issues out of parks at 8 a.m. trying to decide weather to toss the book at them or to have sympathy. Or to decide in the spur of the moment if I they were really going to kill themselves or not. And mostly, trying to decide in a minute or two if they’re worth the effort to save or to toss them to the curb; do you consider them a lost cause and remove them from society as effectivly as possible or try to save them? As much hate as cops get lately, she was genuinely kind and I found myself conflicted by it: weren’t cops supposed to be cruel assholes? Surely the jackass with the AR-15 was your stereotypical militarist police officer dickheard but Officer Hodgkins was a legit good person who commanded authority in an appropriate manner. We arrived at the park and I sheepishly agreed that I was going through some shit and that I’d be out later in the day. And she was understanding and we talked in the parking lot for about ten minutes. She gave me a card to her church’s pastor who had a YouTube channel and I held onto it as a genuine souvenir. (I’d link to it but in the past few weeks of chaos the card has went missing which is very sad to me…) Yes, people do care, strangers and cops none-the-less, and she showed me some grace and understanding where I could’ve very well found myself into some serious, expensive legal trouble, and probably jail. Officer Hodgkins, the middle-aged, very motherly cop in Rockford, Illinois probably won’t read this, but if she did I’d just want to say something like, Hey, thanks for being open and understanding and just helping me along in this bullshit struggle in life. I do appreciate it…

I walked back to my totally illegal campsite and drank some Alka-Seltzer and tried to get my life back into order. Maybe I could salvage the day and get my shit back together? Just a minor hiccup in the day surely. I passed out from the drug and the exhaustion and tried to grab some sleep before work. It was like 10 a.m. and maybe I could get my rest, find peace, and get about my day and feel comfort in my shitty situation. And I did drift off until around noon. But I was awaken by a strangely familiar voice screaming from a quarter mile away, “JEREMY?! WHERE THE FUCK IS YOUR CAMPSITE?!” But that’s probably another story altogether…

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

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Lyme Disease Sucks…Or COVID? Or…Huh?

I don’t even know where to start. The last post left off with my second night in the woods questioning everything about life. And this post is written from the comfort of our living room, and although things still aren’t alright or back to normal, they’re a bit better than they were two days ago.

I’d like to think my past week would make a really rivienting story if I could have peace long enough to piece it all together. As an example: after my second night — this post here — I experienced cops at 8 a.m. (one with a fucking AR-15 by the way), ended up in a mental center, found myself wandering through the woods with a friend drinking beers, calling into work, getting sick, being tested for COVID, and being unable to return to work until I get my results. Despite being back home my life still seems to be in a downward spiral where I can’t grasp onto anything.

So…what was I writing about? What day is it? Oh. Friday. Friday, yes. I came home Tuesday night and set my tent up in the yard. The cops earlier that day gave me 12 hours to get the hell out of the park and I planned on doing just that. My wife apparently panicked when I sent a text saying the cops found me and I was being hauled off to a mental institution and this was enough to muster her effort in helping me pack my shit up and move out. So after two days in the woods I was back home. In the yard, but back home.

Glossing over everything, because I’m not sure of it all anyways, I was back at home, drinking, talking with my wife into the early morning hours of Wednesday. I felt bleak, but hopeful in a way: I was back home at least I’d have the occasional company, but then something happened around 1 a.m.: I felt like shit. I instantly became achy and got the chills. I felt strange and off and I couldn’t stand another night in the tent. It wasn’t cold out but I had a chill I couldn’t shake and basically begged to sleep inside. She was loving and caring enough and I didn’t have to really beg but I was so miserable I felt like I needed to beg. I couldn’t take another miserable night in the tent alone, especially with the aches and the chills.

Inside I started to overthink. I had a strange bite on my arm and assumed it was a tick bite. Or a spider. Whatever. But then the thought of “Lyme disease” popped into my head, I Googled it, and then started to panic. Each of my symptoms fit those of Lyme disease to a tee. Worst of all was the symptom of “confusion” or “slow thinking” and everything seemed to fit that as well. I felt strange, I felt funny, and I felt a way I couldn’t even explain. I felt off and slow and stupid. Everything felt as if it was happening in slow motion and required much more effort than usual. I couldn’t even move my arms to pick up a PS4 controller and it took minutes of dedicated effort to do so. At the time I was totally convinced: I had Lyme disease. Because I got bit by a goddamn tick. Because I was living in the woods. Because I panicked and moved out on Sunday. It’s what I deserved and was fitting. If you act like an idiot, stupid things happen to you.

Somehow I managed to sleep a few hours and awoke totally conflicted at my situation. Did I have Lyme disease? Should I see a doctor? How did all of this work with COVID? And what if I had COVID? I had no idea what to do. Eventually I decided to ignore the possible Lyme disease until I showed more symptoms — swollen joints, constant aches, and a bullseye shaped rash — but thought it was proper enough to get a COVID test just to be safe. Just to protect others. To do the right thing. Luckily, we have a testing center a mile away from our house so it was a quick drive there.

The test took about 15 minutes. I filled out a form on a clipboard and then had a swab shoved up my nose for 15 seconds — the longest 15 seconds of my life! — and then I went back home. But what to do about work?

I wasn’t sure what the UPS policy was about COVID and sickness — and I didn’t feel good at all — so decided to call my full-time supervisor to ask for some details. He’s a good friend and I feel like I can tell him whatever is happening, so elaborating on my Lyme/COVID/woods story didn’t feel too awkward. He didn’t know what the policy was so referred me to a lady and gave me her number. I told her my story and she gave a very simply and straightforward recommendation to me: no work until I got the results back.

And like that my already rocky life was flipped even further upside down by not having work to go to. I love routine. I love having a plan and something to expect from my day so this indefinite lack of work totally threw me off at a time where my life was already thrown off balance. Hell, I was looking forward to work just to have some purpose to my life and that was cut out from underneath me.

So now what? Well, I’m drinking. Heavily. Each day is an alcohol fueled mess where I’m just trying to grasp onto anything — alcohol included — just to keep myself together. I know it’s wrong, I know I’m totally fucking up, but I just want something to do to keep myself distracted. I don’t have work anymore and I don’t have routine. So I drink. Just pissing away minutes, hours, and days until I get my results back where I can have some structure to my life, where I can have some routine to rely on. I don’t feel too bad about it because I know I’m not making excuses or deluding myself at all — this is a problem and this is how I’m coping and it’s not sustainable or healthy — and I know I’ll pull myself together eventually. Despite my endless pessimism when it feels like I’m drowning in the waters of life I still know that I’ll make it. I’ll get through. As shitty as this phase is I know it’ll pass and I’ll be fine.

So today. I don’t feel sick at all. Kinda achy, but nothing special. No COVID cough. No bullseye rash on my arm or body. And I feel even more like shit. I overreacted. I had a COVID test and admitted it to my supervisor. I’m off work until I get results. I feel like I’ve gamed the system to get a free two weeks of vacation for being dramatic. I know in my heart I did the right thing — I was sick, I was tested, and I admitted it to my work place — but I still feel bad about it all. I feel like I’m fucking over my coworkers, being an even lazier and useless slacker than I usually am. Just completely worthless and useless and lazy. And that’s where I am today. Time to crack open another beer…

Here I am, another victim of COVID even if I am an indirect victim of it. I’m out of work, and tossing that on top of my marital problems only makes the week one of the worst weeks I’ve ever deal with. In the meantime I’m doing random pointless things to pass the time until my life pieces itself back together, most of which is drinking: unapologetic drinking to cope with life. I’m living on a very basically level where I’m just trying to survive the next day, and that’s it. This is another bleak blog post, but trying to be positive, the past few days has been quite the adventure. An adventure through hell, but an adventure nonetheless.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

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Long Distance Drunk

“Hang it up now or never, hang it up again

Doesn’t seem like anything you’re saying or doing or doing is making any sense

Long distance drunk, long distance drunk…”

– Modest Mouse

As stated somewhere, I only drink on Sunday. This has been working wonderfully nearly two months into the year. I get to satisfy my inner alcoholic and give him something to look forward to while not forcing myself to be a really good person and be sober all the time. It’s rough being a raging alcoholic that drinks every day and it’s also rough being perpetually sober with no way to temporarily escape life. One drinking day a week seems like the best solution for me, at least until I slip and fuck up my entire plan.

Sunday, a friend of mine needed some help moving furniture at his mother’s house. This happened around noon and naturally we like to unwind by grabbing some food. We went to Old Chicago around 1:30 p.m.; this was way too early to start my Sunday drinking, but what the hell else are you supposed to drink at a restaurant while talking to a friend you haven’t seen in a long time about really heavy stuff? Water? Juice? Coffee? Hell no. I purchased a big 22 oz IPA that sported a whopping 7% alcohol by volume. This was basically like 2.25 Regular Beers and of course I ended up drinking two of these over the course of an hour: 5 or 6 beers by 3 p.m. (To make the math simple, I’ll consider these two 22 oz IPAs 5.5 Standard Beers.) What a start to the day.

I’ve always had bad experiences being drunk all day but couldn’t seem to recall why these days were so bad. This was probably because I was miserably drunk and had some memory impairment from it. I knew I was signing myself up for another completely drunk day by starting so early, but surely there wouldn’t be any problems, right? 

The problem with drinking is that sobering up is the worst feeling in the world. You feel tired, slightly nauseous, and end up yawning every few minutes. You don’t even have to drink a lot to feel awful; one or two beers makes me sleepy and lethargic. I notice my mood is usually shit as well. You toss some caffeine into the mix to offset the sleepiness and then you get an awful jittery feeling along with a hefty dose of anxiety. It’s terrible and I cannot sober up while awake, it’s one of my unwritten rules in life. When I start drinking, drinking will occur until I go to sleep. Considering I go to bed around midnight (or even later) once I started drinking at Old Chicago I knew I was signing myself for another totally drunken day. And I knew it was a bad idea; some part of me recalled that being drunk all day was a terrible idea that made me very uncomfortable, but I couldn’t grasp the feeling clearly enough for it to matter.

We left Old Chicago and I decided to stock up on beers at the gas station so I wouldn’t have to do it later. Usually I drink a six-pack on Sunday, but since it was 3 p.m. I’d have to get quite a few more beers to make it through the day. For some reason I thought a 12-pack would be “safe” enough (safe from running out of alcohol too early in the day) and was able to talk myself down from a 15-pack. How many beers did I think I’d need to survive the next 8 hours?

I made it home about an hour later and was already feeling the awfulness of sobering up. I went outside to “put air in the car tires,” which wasn’t a lie, and ended up sitting in my car shotgunning a few beers for 20 minutes. I had two and felt somewhat better. This brought my Standard Beer Count up to 7.5.

We had to take the kids to Red Robin for their birthday. This was around 5 p.m. and I was feeling good. I was drunk again, fending off the hell of sobering up with those few beers shotgunned quickly while hiding in the car. One of the step-kids was inside putting makeup on as we all waited for her in the van (she’s always makes everyone late) and I thought shotgunning a third beer was a fantastic idea! That would ensure full drunkenness until we made it to Red Robin, which had an ample supply of beer. Things were looking up. Standard Beer Total: 8.5.

At Red Robin I order another two heavy-hitting 7% IPAs that tasted awful. Standard Beer Total: 14. I don’t even like IPAs, they just have a really high ABV percent so sign me up for a few of them. Struggling through the second beer was where things really started to go downhill. It was a challenge to finish it with each sip making my stomach turn, but you can’t leave undrank beer at a restaurant! I was drunk, like stumbling around and slurring my words drunk, but didn’t feel good anymore. I just felt tired, lost, and kinda confused. Like I had no sense of time or anything and was floating through life in a haze or something. Time didn’t make much sense and looking back at the day just seemed like a blur. Usually more beers clears these dirty feelings up, but on the verge of being unable to function I didn’t have much choice: sober up and feel burned out or drink more and pass out/vomit somewhere and feel like total shit the next morning.

We went to drop one of the kids’ friends off and I was playing some music that for some reason just slapped the shit out of me emotionally. There I was riding shotgun in a van full of teenage girls totally crying over a song I was listening too. It was beautifully embarrassing and I didn’t even care. And surprisingly I still don’t care about it; I have zero regret about my actions. I’m an emotional person and the music speaks to me, okay?!

We get home and I had another beer. (Standard Beer #15. I didn’t think to tally these up Sunday — not that I could anyways…math is hard when you’re blasted drunk — and I’m glad I didn’t. Oof. 15?!) Wife cut my hair. I wanted to take a shower to clean away all those annoying hair clippings so I hauled two more Icehouses upstairs and pound those down while I listen to more music. Standard Beers #16 and 17 — shower beers! Shower beers are some of the best beers, but not the ones on Sunday. They just weren’t doing it for me.

Life was really cloudy by this point and it was only like 10 p.m. I have an outstanding goal to publish a chapter in my Morrowind Fanfic story every Sunday; this was the singular thing I had to get finished. Luckily I had the story completely written and the only real challenge left was to edit and post it. Somehow I realized that there was zero chance this would get done because editing while drinking — let alone being legit drunk — was a terrible idea. I’d have zero ability to edit the story, clean up grammar, and decide if it even sounded good. Looking back it makes perfect sense because I could barely walk without assistance from the walls or talk properly. There was no fucking way I could edit a story in my state. This only made my mood worse too, so I laid on the floor feeling miserable, confused, drunk, but also not really drunk or enjoying myself. Just a miserable drunk feeling. Heartburn, lack of motivation, feeling like a failure from my inability to edit a fully written chapter because I drank the entire day away. And to really wallow in my self-hatred I played the song I cried to hours earlier and ended up crying again to it. Jesus Christ, was this my life?

In my state I finally realized why I don’t do this day drinking thing: it’s terrible. The last time I recall was in the summer where I had a case of beer and was drinking the entire day away. I thought grilling out was a good idea and I vaguely recall standing outside grilling while my dad was visiting while I tried to drink away the exhaustion that kept creeping up on me. Not actually enjoying grilling or cooking but just trying to get the damn thing finished to where I didn’t have to do anything. Total laziness and exhaustion. It’s hard to explain but Sunday cleared things up for me. Drinking all day is a terrible idea. Drinking for a few hours where you pound a six-pack is great — it always puts me in a good mood — but trying to drag it out into a perpetual drunken state does not work. In some ways I think no one is meant to feel that good all the time, as if your mind is worn out by being too drunk and happy. After about five or six drunken hours you feel exhausted, tired, and depressed, and eventually reach a point where more alcohol doesn’t improve the situation. So that was my weekend. Sounds fun, huh?

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

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Quitting Drinking Sucks

I think I’ve realized that I’m what people call a “High-Functioning Alcoholic” meaning that even if I drink quite a bit more than is healthy/good/normal I don’t exhibit any of the “classic signs” of being an alcoholic. I don’t miss work. I don’t drink and drive. I don’t gamble or blow unusual amounts of money when drunk and I don’t beat the shit out of my family. But by being this type of person you get sucked into the mindset that you don’t have a problem when you probably do. Since there is nothing to really gain by maybe, possibly being an alcoholic I think I’m going to attempt to stop drinking. Again.

That’s right: Again. I gave it a decent shot a few months ago and failed miserably. I made it two weeks sober and just totally fell off the wagon (or got on the wagon?) You might think that two weeks sober is pretty good, and while I suppose it is, it apparently means you’re not out of the woods yet. Upon reaching two weeks sober I realized that shit was beginning to get very very difficult. Let me digress for a moment…

I used to smoke cigarettes and nicotine, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, is one of the stupidestly addictive substances known to man. Like it’s right up there with heroin in case you didn’t know. I smoked for about five years and tried to quit countless times and met failure each of those times, except for the last of course. Because I did quit smoking! I told myself when I was free from nicotine to never get addicted ever again because it was such a bitch to quit. I just never wanted to have to quit smoking ever again.

It’s common knowledge that quitting smoking is hardest in the first week; if you make it a week without smoking you’re good to go. I found this to be not precisely true as you still crave nicotine even after a week. In fact the urge never seems to totally go away; the cravings just sort of tend towards zero after a long time. But I would say after two weeks of not smoking I felt pretty decent and not at risk of smoking again. The hardest time occurs during the first few days though. Upon trying to quit cold turkey I found I became suicidal within the first six hours. It was no joke how nicotine (or the lack of) fucks with your mind. I know it was nicotine withdrawal causing my mental havoc because upon smoking a single cigarette my suicidal thoughts magically disappeared. My point here is that nicotine withdrawal peaks really fucking fast and is really shitty. With nicotine I found I needed to slowly “wean” myself off them because cold turkey just didn’t work at all for me.

Here. I made a rough chart showing how miserable I felt when I quit smoking. As you can see your misery peaks in a day or two and then slowly subsides to a low level by a week.

A scientific chart on how awful you feel when you quit smoking.

Since I quit smoking — which is one of the most ridiculous and addictive things ever — drinking should be easy to quit! Right? After all I never drank as much as a “real” alcoholic would; I wasn’t drinking daily for years upon years. Even if there were scary withdrawal symptoms (alcohol is one of the few substances that you can die from during withdrawal) I was confident that I wouldn’t suffer the worst of them like DTs or those fucking “pink elephant” hallucinations from the Looney Tunes cartoons. Like I wouldn’t end up hospitalized or anything so I have that going for me.

One thing that should’ve tipped me off that not drinking wouldn’t be that easy — even without any serious medical issues to worry about — is realizing how I can easily go a few days without drinking and that cravings really only happen on the third or fourth day. I assume I had this “nicotine withdrawal” mentality going on where I thought if you made it day or two without drinking you instantly win against alcohol, which is obviously easy to do. This is not the case.

I made it about a week and a half before I really started to know something was going on. I began to feel tired and exhausted all the time. I would sleep nearly 10 or 12 hours, drink three cups of coffee, and still be tired. I also started to feel like I was “fake” and in a dream for large parts of my day where I would blink and sort of be surprised at the fact that I existed or something. My mood noticeably degraded where I came close to snapping on a few of my coworkers. These coworkers are perpetually aggravating but somehow being sober brought my frustration front and center and almost allowed it to boil over. I was agitated, depressed, tired, and didn’t even want to eat. I’d come home from work and go to bed and just want to be left alone with the lights off. And everyday that passed made it worse.

Like this!

You’re told that when you quit drinking that things are going to get better so a descent into depression, lethargy, and misery is shocking. You can power through the tough times here and there, but it seemed like the bad feelings just kept piling up without any reason or way out of feeling like shit. It felt like walking into a dark cave where there is supposed to be an exit in front of you but the further you walk the darker it gets and the exit seems like a made-up lie. Every day would seem worse than the day before, and eventually I wanted to drink again not to be drunk but just to feel like a normal person again.

So I made it two weeks and broke down just because I felt like I was going insane or losing my identity. As what happened with my nicotine-withdrawal-induced-insanity, upon having the drug you’re craving you instantly feel better. After one beer I felt calm, mellow, and like myself again.

Here’s my nicotine chart slightly tweaked for drinking. The dotted line is what I think will happen if I make it past two weeks. As you can see the time period here is about seven times longer: if you flip out without smoking in a day or two you will probably flip out by not drinking between the first and the second week. This also makes me think the comedown period will also be a ton longer, like on the order of a few months.

I guess I left the “legend” on the side?

This is obviously some shit. Nicotine gives you a fucking quick battle with misery that starts and ends relatively quickly while alcohol seems to drag on forever. A huge downside to this is that there’s just more time for something stressful to happen to kick you back down again. If you stop smoking you can pretty easily pick a span of a week or two when nothing stressful should happen but how do you ensure that you have a span of three months without stress to stop drinking? Alcohol is a pain-in-the-ass to stop using, and I have a newfound appreciation for anyone who has become an alcoholic, realized they are an alcoholic, and made the effort to stop drinking. It’s apparently hard as hell to do so congrats to any and all of you who’ve succeeded. Stopping drinking fucking sucks.

Update: I wrote this about a week ago as a way to sort of write about my problems and not drink. I knew it would be frustrating to stop again so venting helped get my spirits up quite a bit. I’m now on my 11 or 12th day sober and it still fucking sucks, but the key it seems is to not think about things too much and to keep fucking busy with whatever you can find.