Around 6 pm I start to get a hankering for a nice, cold brew. The crack of the tab, the first cold sip…it’s amazing. After I’m done with that beer, I am a little out of it, but mildly and pleasantly so. I figure why not another? The second beer is bliss. I wonder what so-and-so has been up to recently? I phone them up. Chatting away, beers going down the hatch, until I get a bit stumbly and head to bead.
I wake up every day at 6 am. I’m used to peeling myself out of bed. Quick sip of energy drink. Drive Rios to work. Back home. I feel like shit. Except I don’t, really. Not enough to stop me. In fact, I have a new theory about light hangovers: they actually increase my drinking?
Why would this be the case? When I’m in the shower letting the cold water do its thing, I’m thinking you stupid motherfucker, you wasted all that time, and now you’re going to waste today because you kept going, you have no self-control. You motherfucker.
What does that do to a person who grew up in a Southern Christian tradition?
It absolves him.
Negative self-talk helps to perpetuate the fun thing that is fucking everything up. I realized that if I don’t drink one night, and therefore have no hangover, I’m actually significantly more likely to not drink the second night. This is lindy until about a week in, when the more innocuous one beer and a movie couldn’t hurt creeps in and starts the cycle.
I’m not an alcoholic, but I do drink too much. The reason for this is simple: I enjoy myself when I do it. For a bit my chronic brain disease fades into the background and I’m in the present moment of bliss. I’m chatting with pals and the ideas are firing off. Laughs are had. And then in the morning I give myself a good beating so that I’m ready to do it again.
The beating serves two purposes. On the one hand it’s the fire and brimstone preacher, telling me that I’m going to hell. That taps into an animal side of my brain, or at least a side from when I was much younger. The second is that the mild depression that follows it leads me to believe I had a tough day, when in fact I did not. But I believe it, so down the hatch goes a Michelob.
I realized this in the shower today. I hadn’t had a beer in about three days before last night. I recorded the podcast with Kris, and again, the ideas were firing off. Once it was done, I’d had enough 8 oz mini-cans to be a little stumbly. Went to bed at 9 pm. But this time when I woke up, I told myself I wasn’t going to take a shit on my decisions. I wasn’t going to praise them, either. I’d just move forward.
Whether or not this is successful, or even needs to be is up in the air. I’m assuming that once my son is around, I won’t want to drink, seeing as how I’m paranoid enough as it is. This recent questioning of my negative habits comes specifically from the influx of editing work I’ve received recently. I’m trying to schedule them tightly, as I’ve realized that the only way to make a decent living in this mode is to do more work. Funny how that works. I need to finish a developmental edit on a 70k-word novel in the next three days, so I can proofread an 80k-word novel right after that. There’s a 100k novel scheduled for mid-Jan, with a 90k-word novel at the end of the month.
And I’d like to pack even more into that.
So I have to be squirrely, sharp, at my best. I can’t get bogged down by negative thoughts or negative habits, which feed off of each other. I have to focus.
Which means, in a paradoxical way, I have to relax.
Sober life is not the easy Path. Society and culture tells us when we get overloaded we should check out. It’s hard to stay in it. To sit with the anxiety. To let your brain be torn apart a little bit. It’s fucking uncomfortable. In fact, it’s terrifying sometimes. AND. It eliminates the up and down. it’s a step towards leveling out the roller coaster so you can keep cruising. For me anyway. The neural pathways rending and reforming is worth it. It’s better than the depressive/relaxed cycle that regular alcohol offers. It’s better for my family for sure. Just a little piece of my story. Hope you find your Path man.
Thank you! I hope I find my Path as well. Your inspiring story is great to here, and when I put it with the other stories my sober friends have told me, it looks more and more appealing every day.