Tag Archives: September

Lessons From Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

This is the second part of a ‘series’ where I write about what I’ve learned from Substance-Free September. The first part is here.

Another sad fact I’ve realized over the past month of being sober is that life continues on. There is no “finished” or “over” and there also seems to be no time to properly gain your bearings and figure out the best course of action. No time to take a break or reflect. Life is being stuck in an endless and problematic story where you never really get to take a step away from things and relax.

Maybe that’s just my life, but others probably feel this way too. It’s another trigger to my drinking: needing a break from life. Hell, that might be my main reason for drinking so much. It’s my way of having a few clear and foggy hours to not exist as fully as I usually do. It drowns life out to an acceptable level where I seem to be able to deal with it, until the next day that is. But that’s an easy problem to solve because you can always drink more!

Not a good idea, obviously. A friend of mine a few months ago pointed out that I feel too much, my highs are really high and my lows are supremely low. Apparently despite outward appearance I’m a highly emotional person and this friend being a very insightful person I tried to give him some credit. Sure, I didn’t see myself that way, but was he onto something?

To maybe prove this point, this friend moved away last month. People move, things change, but goddamn do I feel his absence in some way that others don’t seem too. Maybe they don’t verbalize  it (neither do I) outside of the occasional “I miss [person],” but stuck in my head I feel it differently. The fact that people always move, change, grow, decay, and that everything is temporary, everything is inevitably changing crushes my soul. I don’t like it at a visceral level. Something about it seems wrong even though it’s perfectly natural.

And this friend? He seems to be the embodiment of going with the flow and change, the total opposite of myself. I think I admire that about him. He’s the type of person who literally quit his job, embraced all the change through his own actions, and moved thousands of miles away with no guarantee that anything would actually turn out the best for him. No insecurity or hesitation about it, and the part I don’t understand, no fear of loss from leaving people behind. Leaving the memories behind. Leaving everything about your life behind for some unknown clean-slate where anything could happen, good or bad. It’s such a crazy and foreign thing to my insecure self that I just can’t comprehend how someone could go through with it.

It feels like I’m paralyzed by my emotions, hence the drinking to escape them. I used to be really depressive and have somehow managed to get better over the past six months. Still an episode of depression can be so intense that I want nothing more than to zap myself out for a while via alcohol. Strangely it’s not just the bad times I try to escape. Moments happen where something magical will happen; a good day where I see the beauty in everything and can savor every grateful second that passes. Inevitably, this feeling comes with the realization of loss. Why can’t everything remain beautiful? Why does anything ever change? Why can’t things stay in this moment forever? And obviously when that happens I can’t wait to have another drink to escape it.

So maybe I feel too much. Maybe it’s a curse, maybe it’s a gift. I recently read some story drafts I’d written and couldn’t help but see this is what I’m constantly trying to explain to my readers. I’m constantly trying to explain this bitter sense of loss, losing the entire point of life, and trying to understand the cycle of gaining and losing. Damn if I don’t have a heavy dose of loss, nostalgia, joy, and insecurity in everything I write. Everything seems to point to me feeling way too much about the smallest things in life, as if everything is a battle to find joy and survive, to appreciate those small moments when they decide to show up. Maybe it is a gift, maybe this form of suffering is a way to move forward? Maybe I’m just hopelessly bipolar or something.

See what I mean?

That was a hell of a rant. When you remove drinking as a solution there is no escape from life itself. No way to avoid the emotions. They fucking happen and it sucks. But even those are hopelessly fluid. Countless times I’ve been so happy and at peace that I want to cry, and this emotion always passes. It always fades into nothing. Countless times I’ll have a good day and try to force myself to remember the good times as clearly as possible, but I never find success…ever. You can’t remain joyful forever. The same is true for depression: the mood always changes given enough time even if you don’t realize it in the depths of it. Without fighting these emotions with alcohol I’ve learned to be clearly aware of them. Let them pass. It’s like being on a boat in the ocean; the waves pass by you, you’re up one moment and you’re down the next, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Ride the waves, let time pass, and learning to do this is nearly impossible, but you do make progress over time. No one wants to feel like shit, everyone wants to be happy, but it’s like trying to stop the earth from rotating. Find comfort in the temporary joy, and let the waves of depression wash over you. They’re equally temporary.

This has been my life the past month. Each day passes with its own joys and struggles and then…nothing. It happens again and again. A week passes. Two. Three. There is no break, this is no grand pause in drinking to reflect on it all. There is no award, trophy, or magical realization at the end to justify anything you work through. Just more…life I guess? More ups and downs. Endless emotions of ups and downs. In a way it feels like I’m slowly breaking down. I just want a break from life sometimes! Some way to not exist as fully as I seem to exist at all waking moments of the day. Is it just me? Is this how people are? Hell if I know.

There is no grand lesson in this blog post. Which kinda is the grand lesson in some strange way. Life goes on, it raises you up and lowers you like a boat on waves, and you’re nearly useless to do anything about it. Life seems to be about learning to float on the waves, dance on the highs and lows of life, where there is no respite from this dance of life. Up and down. Powerless at all times. Adrift in the ocean of life with no escape from the waves.

The next post: Lessons From Substance-Free September: The Endless Supply of Problems

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.

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.