It’s Frustrating to be at the Whim of Others

Disclaimer: Don’t read this if you’re opposed to cursing or if you prefer to see me as an engine of positivity who never feels anger, sadness, or uselessness. We will return with our scheduled programming Monday.

One of the most difficult things about my sobriety is that while I am sober, I still have to live the life that I have caused myself through my alcoholism… for now anyway. Living with my mother and still very alcoholic brother is the major cause of my depression these days. The house is extremely dysfunctional and dirty, and it reminds me daily of how broken my family is (and by proxy, I am). Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mother and our relationship is better than it ever has been but she causes so many problems for herself which then spill over onto me because I am the responsible member of the family. It’s not fair but it is what it is.

My sister on the other hand, I am not so sure how I feel about her. Her mistakes have frequently caused hardship in my life one way or another. She has two bastard children whom I am always guilted into babysitting, my mother has to pay all of her bills because she is underemployed and destroyed her credit which affects me because I then have to help my mother pay for the things she needs, and perhaps the best of all is that none of us got an inheritance from our father because it was used to buy a townhouse for my sister to live in. I don’t care about the money, it wouldn’t have been that much (enough to get me out of debt for sure), it’s just icing on the shit cake.

This townhouse has again become a problem. My sister is living there illegally because the rules of the complex state that the owner of the townhouse must live there full time. My mother is the legal owner because, as I said, my sister has abysmal credit so even if my mother loaned her (loaned haha yeah right) the money, she wouldn’t get approved to live there. The complex is run by a fairly racist woman who is upset that my sister has black men entering her townhouse “at all hours” (in her defense she works nights so this is impossible) and scaring the other residents. She then accused my mother of not actually living there… which is of course true… and said she’d hate for her to lose her investment.

So, what will probably have to happen now is that I will have to move into this townhouse with my mother while my sister and her bastard children move into our house so that my mother doesn’t lose everything. The only good thing about this is, as I said, my relationship with my mother is pretty good now and the two worst members of my family will be living in a house together far away from me. But, I just spent $200 renovating my bedroom and will be moving into, unbelievably, an even smaller space. The complex is a complete ghetto-hell… I work in a court so am fully aware that most of our litigants who are drug addicts and alcoholics live in this particular area. Just the kind of environment to live in to really make me feel like my sobriety is taking me places.

I don’t know what’s going to happen for sure. I don’t even really know what the point of this post is. I’m frustrated that the direction of my life is completely out of my hands. I’ve been depressed and angry for two days. I’m about to go to the gym for the first time in weeks to blow off some steam. After that I don’t know what I’m going to do… I’m so bored and annoyed. There’s tons that I could do and I don’t feel like doing any of it.

But we’ll see what happens.

Day 30

Featured image is of my mother. First portrait I’ve taken of another person.

This is day 30 of my 30-day blogging schedule! I consistently posted at least once a day and it wasn’t even that difficult once I stuck to a schedule. My schedule has been off this week, not just for blogging but for everything, because of my injury. I’m mostly recovered, though. Just taking it easy so I don’t damage it yet again and have to start all over.

I’m probably going to slow down on the posting so that I can work on more elaborate posts instead of these daily updates. They’ll be the same, content wise, but I just would feel more proud of my writing if I put more thought and work into the editing and construction. I’m thinking two to three posts a week would be perfect. I may do more if the mood strikes me but that’s what I’m aiming for.

Thank you to everyone who started following and commenting on my posts this last month. I went from 3 followers to almost 150! Granted, a lot of them aren’t genuine, but it’s still cool to see. I’d like to try to get to 500 by the end of the year which is totally doable if I work at it.

Prime Recovery has gone from an alcoholism-centered space to pretty much my own personal diary. I like it more this way but the name doesn’t really fit anymore. Even though I talk about my recovery from time to time, alcoholism and addiction aren’t subjects I’m terribly interested in anymore. I’ll always continue to give support to those who are looking for it, but that chapter of my life is closed. Drinking alcohol doesn’t even register on my scale of “things I might do in the near to distant future” so I just don’t think about it. That said, my addiction has definitely shaped who I am today. I think I’m a stronger person having gone through the things that I did. I also have more appreciation for other people, knowing how much they helped me.

I’m sure I’ll post tomorrow because I’m still not well enough to go to the gym which is what will be taking up my normal writing time slot eventually. Until then, see you in the comments!

Dating Sober

If you’ve been reading my ramblings long enough, you’re at least vaguely aware that I’ve been single for some time. I like to tell people it’s been about ten years, but that’s a little misleading. It’s been ten years since I’ve been in a serious, committed relationship but I’ve dated women here and there up until the time I decided to get sober.

Since my sobriety, dating has become incredibly difficult. Not only are there the women who predictably don’t want to talk to a self-confessed alcoholic, but a lot of the people I encounter in my day-to-day life are very active addicts themselves. Just in the last two months, I’ve almost gone out with a woman who accidentally let slip that she was a codependent meth-addict, a woman who drank to intoxication every night with her children in her care but didn’t think it was a big deal, and then just today I was inspired to write this post by another incident.

There’s this girl, let’s call her Annie, whom I’ve known for probably close to a decade. She used to work for me at the first restaurant I managed and we hung out a few times back then, had a little fun, and then I ended up moving to the west coast. I’ve always liked her and we have chatted here and there over the years. Fast forward to today, I get a friend request from her on Facebook and find out she’s living in the same town as I am!

Naturally, I was excited. Here was fairly lonely, single Brian finding out that one of the women he had been feverishly attracted to was a stone’s throw away and was showing interest in reconnecting again. We talked for a bit, flirted a little, and I have to say she still looks just as beautiful as she did ten years ago… plus a few more tattoos.

Then I started getting hit with the 1-2-3 knockout punches. First she tells me she’s on probation, then she was at a party last night and couldn’t call her testing facility because she was drunk. Finally, the home run was that she told me she wanted to hang out on her lunch break at her job but asked me if I could bring some pain killers if I had any.

Jesus. Effing. Christ.

She turned out to be pretty messed up, the more we talked. Very disheartening, of course, but I understand that her problems have nothing to do with me. While I could be depressed that I’d hooked yet another drug addict who likely wanted to use me for money (which I don’t have, don’t even worry about that), I’m grateful that I’m now mindful and present enough to not go and see her anyway… because the old me totally would have and it would have been a huge mistake.

Hopefully, she quits while she still has her looks. She likely won’t stay out of jail for long with the way she’s behaving and maybe that’s what she needs.

How Do I Get Sober?

Having listened to my story about how I went from drinking eighteen bottles of beer a night to working a steady job during the week and traveling around the state in my spare time, Melissa confessed to me that she believed she drank “a little too much” and wondered aloud how she might “cut back”. She used all of the common excuses: life is so stressful she needs a few drinks after work to wind down, she heard 12-step groups are cults and besides… she doesn’t have the time to go to a meeting every night! Rehab? She’d lose her job! She doesn’t need to quit, she just needs to find a way to become a “normal drinker” again.

What Melissa didn’t understand is that she was already long past the point at which she could moderate her drinking. I knew enough about her after-hours lifestyle through social media and slightly too-much-information stories she told coworkers about her weekend misadventures. She didn’t have a few drinks after work to wind down, she got absolutely obliterated on an almost nightly basis. Her weekends were a blur; her stories having obvious gaps of memory in them. She confessed that both her husband and her children had mentioned her drinking to her but she appeared to still be at the point where her (similarly alcoholic) friends thought she was “fun”.

A big part of her issue with moderation was that there was no way to separate drinking from her daily routine. Like all of us, she had built habits over time that were now automatic. Once 4:30pm came, her body was automatically expecting her first drink. On Friday, she subconsciously knew that she was off to the races for two days. She called in sick so often on Mondays that they may as well have just given her the day off. Getting drunk was such a huge part of Melissa’s life that it would be impossible to quit without changing everything about herself.

This is why so many of us fail over and over again when trying to get sober. We can’t simply stop drinking because drinking is psychologically attached to every activity in our lives. The successful sober people don’t become financially independent fitness freaks because they quit drinking, they focused on their goals and their fitness in order to quit drinking.

I still see friends throughout my life who relapse continuously. They all have the same problem Mel did: they are unwilling to change their fundamental systems for living. They don’t want to get rid of their drinking buddies because they’re the only friends they have. Even though they used to watch television or play video games while they drank, they don’t understand why they can’t stay sober when they still are watching television and playing video games every night.

When I decided to get sober, really decided that I was done, I called a rehab facility and went the next day. I wasn’t worried about what my boss would say, I didn’t care what my friends or family thought, I just did it. The day before I decided to go to rehab a little over a year ago remains the final time I touched alcohol. It hasn’t even entered my mind as something that’d be fun to do since then. Rehab taught me a whole new way of living and I took all of their advice to heart.

Melissa’s story doesn’t have a happy ending yet. She may never get sober; most alcoholics don’t. The most painful thing about alcoholism, and addiction in general, is that you can’t force the addict to do the right thing. This post doesn’t have a direct answer to the question asked in the title because there isn’t one, and if there were most addicts wouldn’t listen to it. You have to decide right now that you have ruined your life as much as you are willing to and that you are going to do whatever it takes to get sober.

Anything short of that is doomed to fail.

Still Alive!

It’s been a bit since I’ve written here. I had temporarily become somewhat of a perfectionist, not wanting to write anything that didn’t have a specific topic and lots of editing. That resulted in me never really finishing anything. I’m learning a lot about writing in college and while it is something I’d like to apply to my blog, I just don’t have time with everything going on in my life right now! Anyway, here’s a quick update for my friends here:

11 MONTHS! Yep I’m about 11 months sober now; quickly coming up on a year. I say every month that I never thought I’d make it this long a year ago but it’s even more unbelievable to come up on 365 days. Still going to one on one therapy (every 2 weeks) and group therapy (every week) which I honestly enjoy a lot. I’ve been in therapy in the past but I’ve never really clicked with a therapist like I do this one. We’re about the same age and he’s also in recovery (sober from painkillers 8 or so years) so he understands what it feels like. Group therapy I could take or leave; I skip one every few weeks but overall it’s good to have a reminder of how easy it would be to go back to drinking and have my life completely fall apart. At least once a month someone relapses and disappears from the program. We’ve even had a couple of them die which is … sobering.

School has been great this time around. It’s the first time I’ve attempted university completely sober since I graduated high school and even though I failed back then without any help from alcohol, I was definitely still behaving like an addict. University of Phoenix is an accelerated program so each class is only 5 weeks long meaning I’m already into week 2 of my second class. I am easily one of the more intelligent people in my classes which is strange to say because I never used to think of myself as particularly brilliant. Despite there being pretty strict rules on grammar and spelling for discussion posts, most of my fellow students still look as if they’re using text to speech to write their material. The only downside is that I’m going for a bachelors in computer science and my first semester has zero computer classes. I’m all for learning something new but I want something I can potentially take to a new job before I graduate. All in due time.

I have been horribly depressed which might come from nowhere considering the tone of my last two paragraphs. If you’re new, I am bipolar and have been trying different medications which so far have had the reverse effect on me. Lamotrigine is supposed to flatline your mood and it did but it flatlined it in my depressive state so while I haven’t been manic in over a month I also haven’t really been happy or motivated. I started taking the lowest possible dose of Zoloft two weeks ago to try to elevate my mood with the Lamotrigine but so far it has made me even more depressed. For me, normal depression is just a lack of desire to do anything but lay around all day. Now, though, I’m experiencing true pit of your stomach sadness which I’ve never really felt long term before. My dose goes up today and if it doesn’t fix the problem I’m going to go in sooner to change my plan. I’m not suicidal, but if this feeling were stronger I can definitely understand the warning on the label.

Part of my depression has affected my financial discipline a little bit. I’m not going out spending money frivolously but I built a new PC over the last couple of weeks. It was something I intended to do anyway I had just been holding off because I didn’t want to spend that much… well I ripped that band-aid off. It hasn’t been terrible: all said and done it was probably $800 for a PC that would retail for $1500 if you bought it pre-built. I remind myself that it is a genuine hobby that brings me joy that I had simply been afraid to indulge in. Everyone has them and I definitely have the income I just was being a bit extreme about saving to the point that I never had any fun. I’ll try to be mindful of that in the future.

So that’s it… some ups some downs. I think more ups than downs whether or not this post makes it seem like it. Hopefully my mood gets sorted soon because I just feel lazy. I still hold a job that I perform well at and I’m still doing awesome in school… just gotta remember that no matter how depressed and lazy I feel I still have those things going for me.

290 Days – What is Rehab Like?

Ten months ago I decided that I was going to kill myself. Right away or over the course of several years through alcohol abuse, it didn’t matter. My life was meaningless. You’ll often hear alcoholics and addicts in A.A. or N.A. say that their best friend and only lover was their addiction and it’s logical to ask: “what about your friends, family, and significant others? Didn’t you love them?”. At the risk of making spouses and loved ones of addicts more unhappy than they already are I will simply say that an addict does not care about any of those people. They’re tools we use to get what we want. Who could possibly lie that often and that well to people they love? Who could steal from their parents or hit their spouse if they loved them? No, it’s not love. It’s one of the strongest expressions of Machiavellianism you’ll find.

People, especially addicts, ask me what rehab is like. Reflecting back on those days when I was seeking help I must say I’d never had an inkling of what it was going to be like either. Pop culture displays inpatient treatment as a lot of sitting in circles and sleeping in bunk beds with 40 other people who twitch and talk to imaginary people; walking around in bathrobes and slippers and smoking lots of cigarettes. I never made an actual decision to go to rehab, I don’t think. It wasn’t bravery or courage, it was desperation. One day I called in to work hungover (again) but instead of sleeping until four and buying another case of Corona I called Brighton Center for Recovery just to ask some questions. I’d bet that’s what most of their patients do because they very quickly flipped the conversation into me coming in the next day by 11 a.m. with a rather short list of things that I was allowed to bring. The actual courage came the next day when I asked my mother to drive me two hours to Brighton’s campus and I walked through the front door to turn myself over to their care.

After signing in and filling out the intake paperwork, I was led to a large waiting room with a TV that was playing the most boring AM talk show drivel they could find and a coffee machine. A couple other people came in and out as they were processed but I was stuck there for two hours as the treatment center tried to get a hold of my insurance company. As you can imagine, my anxiety peaked during that time. Why was I here? Was this even going to work or am I just taking the most boring 3-week vacation of my life?  Will my insurance even cover this or are they about to send me home? Will I have to pay all this back? Oh God did I just spend thousands of dollars on rehab? All of these questions wandered in and out of my head several times as I tried in vain to read some of the four-year old magazines on one of the coffee tables.

Toward the end of my wait another patient-to-be and the greatest enabler I had ever seen up to that point in my life strode in… Well I say “strode” but it was more of a shuffle. The patient: a man who could barely stand and who stared slack jawed at the walls and the enabler: his father who had stopped on their way to Brighton to buy his son a pint of vodka so he could chug it before coming in. The patient kept whining that he was hungry over and over and over ad infinitum while the nurses and his father repeatedly told him he couldn’t eat until his blood work was done. Fortunately it wasn’t much longer until I was given word that my insurance company had graciously agreed to cover my treatment (no sarcasm there; a lot of insurance companies don’t cover 100% of treatment like mine did).

A nurse showed me around the campus which ended up being radically different from the image I had in my head. It would have been well furnished in 1972 with those thin hospital carpets and chairs that were probably donated from the lobby of a doctors office. There were two units that patients could stay in depending on how far gone they were. Most people had to go through the main unit first where they were hooked up to an IV of drugs intended to wean them off of whatever drug they were on. This unit was more or less a hospital complete with nurses stations and hospital beds. The second unit, which I was assigned to, was either for people who didn’t need medical help to detox or who had already been through the detox process and were deemed to not need constant supervision. A lot of my companions in that unit cynically said it was because our insurance wasn’t good enough for the hospital complex but after seeing the way the people who stayed in that unit looked and behaved I’m pretty sure my impression is correct.

While I did have a brief fling with vodka in the mid-00’s, beer was always my drink of choice. With that and the fact that I hadn’t had a drink the day before I “turned myself in”, I didn’t need to detox. After a brief check-up with one of the facility’s doctors I was shown my room. Also unlike the television portrayals I had seen, the rooms had three beds and were well furnished. I had just enough time to put my bag on the floor before I was whisked away to the first “class”. You don’t start the program at Brighton on day one with a group of people, you start in the middle of whatever they’re already doing. This was jarring at first because everybody else knew each other and the cultural cues of the place. In the end that was good, though. It snapped me out of my social fear and forced me to start trusting people again. Trusting anyone was difficult for me; imagine how hard it was to trust a bunch of drug addicts and alcoholics! Some of them were sent there by the court as a hail mary before their final court date in the hopes that a judge would see that they were trying and wouldn’t send them to prison. Others were there because their parents forced them. People like me who were there of our own free will were a depressingly tiny minority. So, no. I didn’t trust most of them on my first day. Or third.

Changes weren’t quick or dramatic. I was still quiet and introspective most of the time. It’s difficult for me to spear myself in to an already established social group and probably always will be. I feel like jumping into the middle of people’s conversations is rude and awkward even if it’s what most people do. Over time, though, I started to form a bond with the people there. First it was with the people who were in my group therapy sessions… our unit was further split up by therapist so there would be groups of 6-8 of us in the morning for therapy and then we would all come back together for classes and meals. A strange thing started to happen. My perception of other people was beginning to change for the better without any effort on my part. I was with hardened criminals, mothers who had their children taken away, and abject losers like me who had never amounted to anything. I started seeing them all as people though. Even the guys who came in “tough” on their first day started to let their guard down mid way through the first week and by week two were just normal people like the rest of us. I think that the most valuable lesson I learned at Brighton is that we are all just as scared of life as everybody else. People may make bad, even terrible choices but they weren’t born thinking it would be a fantastic idea to rob people for drug money. Life happens to all of us and I was lucky to be an alcoholic son of a reasonably good family instead of some of those other people. I would like to believe that we all changed there and the hardened criminals I met left to pursue an altruistic life of happiness but that isn’t how our society works. We won’t get into that though.

It was a bit like school from how I remembered it. There were cliques and hierarchies but unlike high school I was near the top of the ladder for a change! It felt good to know I was succeeding at at least something. There were still the groups who screwed around and didn’t take anything seriously. There were two groups of people in particular who were sneaking into each others rooms and doing what boys and girls do. Obviously they’ve relapsed by now. But the bulk of us paid attention and did the work. They kept us pretty busy. We had the aforementioned group therapy in the morning after breakfast and a class before we left to go to the hospital unit for lunch as that was where the main cafeteria was. After that we came back to our unit and had two more classes and then left yet again to have dinner. After dinner we stayed at the main building for an AA meeting and then came back for essentially two hours of free time. Even given that rigorous schedule I was starting to get severely stir crazy by my last week. One of the counselors would occasionally take us on walks through the property (they had at least a hundred acres of forest and lakes on their campus) but other than that the only outdoor area we were allowed to use wasn’t even the size of my back yard. It helped to have made some friends but those of us who were more serious about the process took a lot of “me” time to do the assignments and reflect on our lives. We still played board games and tried to play sports in our 20 yard garden but I spent a lot of time thinking about my past.

In the end, I walked out on May 16, 2018 with more sober time then I’d ever had since I was 21. Life hasn’t been a pleasant little picnic since then but one thing I can say is I basically do not think about alcohol anymore. I don’t know why. Whether it was the classes telling me the scientific explanation of how my brain works or the time I burst into tears when a woman in group told me after going through a laundry list of all of the horrible things I’d done in my that life she still loved me as a person. No clue. But for some reason I got away scott-free while thousands of other addicts go to AA meetings two or three times a day and clutch their heads in agony as they try to resist the temptation to drink. It’s not a thought for me.

I just don’t drink anymore.

The Secret Art of the Sandwich

In 2008 I went to work for Jimmy John’s in Auburn Hills, Michigan. My domestic readers need no introduction to the franchise and I’m willing to bet a fair amount of my foreign readers are at least familiar but if I were to describe the restaurant to the uninitiated I’d say “It’s a Subway with far, far less toppings and better bread.” That’s actually fairly accurate.

The company was owned by a guy we’ll call Carl (not his real name but close enough). Carl was the stereotypical mid-western silver spoon douchebag who had decided one day whilst drinking and blowing some lines with his best bud that they should open a franchise. He was (and is, I’m sure) a short, balding, barrel-bodied man who could not stand being the loudest and most respected man in the room. The “big swingin’ dick” as he called it when referring to others of his genus. He had absolutely no idea how to manage a business but through sheer luck he managed to be the first Jimmy John’s franchisee in the mid-west and was allowed to expand at a pace enviable to any entrepreneur.

So that’s how (after a brief stint at a bakery in Rochester Hills which ended in me cheating on my girlfriend at the time with one of my bosses who was married and newly made a mother) I wound up meeting him and unwittingly beginning a seven year career that took me all across the country. I began, as almost everyone in the company does, as a delivery driver. There I met someone who would become a good friend and with whom I would stumble down a dark path of drugs, alcohol, and young women which almost killed me more than once. As usual, a story for another time. Through this friend I was made a night manager and through a combination of hard work and the company’s inability to retain employees I got to skip the assistant manager gig and go right to running my own store in downtown Birmingham. The clientele were the upper end of upper middle class and came with the expected difficulties. Constant arguing about the menu, threats against my position for late deliveries, etcetera. Eventually through the aforementioned poor employee retention I was chosen as a “fixer” to head to Arizona and see if I couldn’t figure out why every store there was failing. It only took me a few days to discover that the reason was heroin, of course.

So over the course of the next few weeks my team and I fired pretty much everybody and hired sixty employees in a month which was a feat never before seen. I was immediately asked to stay in Arizona permanently and run the highest volume unit. Having nothing but a wake of destroyed relationships and the bad memories that come pre-packaged with hardcore alcohol addiction back home I of course agreed.

The next four or five years were a waking nightmare. I’d work for 14-15 hours and then drink from 5PM until 2AM and then get up at 6AM to open my store and do it all over again. Frequently I’d take a day off from drinking after a two or three day binge in which I swore I was done and would never drink again. I’m sure some of you know how that works out. I know a lot of alcoholics think that they’re pulling it off without anyone being the wiser when in fact everybody around them knows what’s going on, but my employees and friends genuinely did not know I was basically working solely to support an addiction. Even when I was evicted from my apartment (truly the best place I’ve ever lived) and had to move in with a former employee I was able to conjure up a convincing enough excuse. To this day I don’t know how none of my closer coworkers knew that I was hungover almost every single day.

Arizona was simultaneously the best part of my life and the absolute worst. I mean I got to drink as much as I wanted whenever I wanted without anyone saying anything. On top of that the environment and population are equally gorgeous. I made two of my best friends there who I still talk to almost daily (somehow they stuck around through my darker periods; that’s how you know who your real friends are I suppose but I really wouldn’t have blamed them if they cut off contact with me back then). I fell in love more than a couple of times but as one of my current coworkers is fond of saying: “every relationship is failed until you find your last one”.

I tell this short story not as an autobiographical note but as proof of how far you can come if you’re willing to put in the work. My life continued to spiral into the drain and Arizona wasn’t my last stop before coming home and getting sober but there is no part of my personality that mirrors that of my former self. It’s really as if that person died and I was born nine months ago. Even my thoughts are different and if you aren’t your thoughts then what are you? So to those of you still struggling out there, keep up the fight. Look to your friends and loved ones for help. Find a treatment program. I did a complete 180 out of the blue and haven’t so much as turned back for a quick peek. I’m not an exceptionally intelligent or willful person: if I can do it, so can you.

Talk to ya later.

Empathy, or: Slightly Sociopathic

Yesterday in group therapy we had a new member who immediately gave off the “piece of shit” vibe. Not that he was mean or anything like that; he was a fast talker and admitted to caring little for other people. He lives in a three-quarter house which for those of you who don’t know is a sober living home with less restrictions than a half-way house. Residents keep jobs and are allowed to come and go as they please for the most part (there is a curfew and meetings people must attend).  Recently he discovered that a resident was doing drugs while living there but doesn’t want to tell the house leader because it’s not his problem. I can empathize with that but in a sober living home, someone doing drugs can really affect other people. Perhaps the reason I don’t like this person, though, is that he reminds me a lot of myself. By no means am I a fast talker but I do have more than a little difficulty connecting with other people emotionally.

My therapist tells me that sociopathy is more of a spectrum than the layman knows and I am probably on the lower end of that spectrum. Alcohol mediated that and made me hyper-emotional (and also at the same time more selfish, unsurprisingly). Now that I am sober my sense of superiority and my lack of care for other people is returning in full force. I try to make a conscious effort to be compassionate but if I’m not paying attention I easily slip into the pattern of classism, racism, and sexism.

I believe it takes a strong person to admit that they have these thoughts. We all do; anyone who says otherwise is simply a liar. What separates us from the animals is that we don’t have to act on these impulses. Perhaps that is one reason we hate overt racists so much: they have demonstrated that they have no self-control and are unable or unwilling to mediate their knee-jerk thoughts. In a word, we are all better than them. Or at least that’s my opinion and as I alluded to above I have a problem with thinking that about pretty much everyone. I feel justified for the most part. I am well read, athletic, and at the very least of above average intelligence. It doesn’t behoove us to think that we’re better than others though and I certainly would never make the mistake of saying it out loud in public.

I’m hoping that I can get this under control in the future because I fear it is driving me to disconnect with people.

The Hypocrisy of Me

I am a hypocrite. I know it, and it’s probably the personal trait that I do battle with the most. My ego has an almost instinctive tendency to look down on the poor, the addicted, the stupid… never mind the fact that I fit into all of those categories like I was manufactured for them. Being cognizant of my bitterness and hatred rarely helps. Beyond a handful of minutes a day, I can’t keep the will to be empathetic in focus.  Perhaps the reason I hate these people so much is because they remind me so much of myself.

My brother is without a doubt the best example of my hypocrisy. Aside from a handful of glaring differences, he and I are identical in our behavior (or, he is identical to how I used to behave). Now to be fair I believe, correctly I think, that his inner darkness makes mine look downright holy, but we have more similarities than differences.

STEALING

I lose my shit on a daily basis when I discover that he has stolen the food I meant to have for lunch the next day; when all of the meat in the house vanishes because he was up from 11pm to 6am stuffing his drunk face. There was even a period where I had gotten so fed up that I was only eating vegetables because I knew that he doesn’t know how to make a meal out of them and when he gets drunk he doesn’t see them as food. Any convenience food… forget about it! We can’t have potato chips or anything of the sort in the house because it won’t last long enough for us to enjoy it. Even though my brother isn’t drinking at the moment (he’s been jobless for over a month) he is still the worst kind of parasite. But…

I stole too. A LOT. And probably more brazenly. As far as I know, and I’m probably wrong, he only steals from his family. I stole from employers, friends… I even stole money out of my mothers purse once. It’s disgusting. So why do I hound on him so much? Well, it’s different when it’s happening to you of course and I shouldn’t just roll over and say “oh, well I used to do it so I understand and I’ll let it slide“. I do let it slide though because I haven’t yet developed the guts to do anything about it. I’m getting there; I was always scared of confrontation as a stunted teenage drunk but as my mind ages in sobriety I find myself challenging people more (when necessary) and it’s only a matter of time before this boils over.

LYING

Addicts lie. It’s basically our vocation. Some of us are great at it and some of us are laughably miserable at it. My brother is the latter. You can catch him red handed and he will still try to argue that it’s not actually happening. There are only two of us in this house besides my mother and it is readily apparent that I am sober, yet he will still claim, slurring and staggering in the doorway, that it wasn’t him who drank all of my mother’s wine and stole all of her Vicodin.

I lied with almost every breath. I was good at it though. I have left a long trail of devastated lovers, employers, friends, and relatives behind me. I latched onto codependent women like a piranha convincing them just long enough that I was one of the good guys and I would be different from all of those other dirt-bags who treated them like they were disposable. Then once they were committed I let the facade drop, comfortable in the knowledge that they were to weak to ever leave me. Once I was done with them I’d toss them aside for the next one. I lied to a boss’ face once, telling him I’d done something important that needed to be done when I hadn’t even attempted it. He knew I was lying but he couldn’t prove it so that was that. I suppose that’s what addicts do… as long as you can’t prove that we’ve done anything, most people are too scared and full of self-doubt to press the issue.

ETC.

Those were my two biggest sins. I said earlier that I considered my brother far worse and that’s simply because he can add totaling three cars while driving drunk, destroying property, and beating his girlfriends bloody to the list. It’s not that I’ve never driven drunk; any alcoholic who says they haven’t is a big fat liar. I’ve never been caught. I’m fortunate enough to have never been caught for any of the things I did. It’s given me an ease of recovery that many other addicts I’ve met find almost insulting. I’m no better or worse than any of them yet I get to act like I am because I’ve never been to prison and I have a sterling employment reputation. And boy do I use that to my advantage. I guess some things never change…

Flying High

As much as I’d love to be able to pick a topic and write a thoughtful essay on it, I’m not there yet. So for now I’m just going to continue writing about life and the lessons I’ve learned lately. Plans are to eventually take time to write more academic posts over the course of several days but to be honest I am just too busy right now; and that feels great!

I’ve always been bored on some level. In alcoholism it was because I repeated the same routine over and over every day which led to depression and feelings of worthlessness. I was always bored, just going through the motions. For six years of my addiction (by no means the entirety of it) I woke up at 6AM, already late for work but I was the boss so I thought nobody noticed (they did). I opened the restaurant and worked my 11 to 12 hour shift in a complete haze, definitely not doing my best work. Then I’d get off work, stop at one of my three usual stores, and drink and play video games until 1 or 2AM. The day after would be a recovery day where I’d fall asleep right after work but I’d be back at it the day after that. Sometimes I’d drink for three or four days straight without a recovery day and some days I’d be sober for two days (almost never three). But the depression and boredom never ended.

Even in early recovery I was bored, but for a different reason. The depression was still there although greatly lessened and it gradually continued to dwindle for the first few months. But boy was I bored! When you’re sober there are so many hours in the day to fill! In the beginning I took a lot of local trips with my mother and aunts but I sank back into a pretty deep depression around month three and stopped doing pretty much anything, fell back into gaming, and although I wasn’t drinking I don’t know if I’d call myself sober. AA throws around the term “dry drunk”. I don’t know if that’s what I was. I think I was just burnt out and trying to find my way. Fortunately I have always been extremely introspective and was able to work my way through it, partially due to the help of a therapist I still see to this day.

About a month ago something changed. Like light from the heavens shined down upon me, I was bestowed with a heretofore unseen level of motivation and pride (not the bad, Christian kind, I’m talking self-esteem). Now, I’m bipolar so I am used to having periods of manic energy where I pick up a dozen hobbies and burn out after two weeks which leads to a month long depression… but this was different. I was skeptical; cautiously waiting for the energy to fade and the depression to return. Knock on wood a month later I’m still going. I have some routines in place which help me and I make sure to take a day to just do nothing so that I don’t burn out. Planning a lazy day is a lot different from just not doing anything because you’re exhausted. I don’t get sad because of it, quite the opposite because I know that I’m taking care of myself.

So I’m still flying high. I’m on the 10th day of my yoga and meditation streak; I’ve even started doing yoga 2-3 times a day because it just feels so good (it hurts at first but once you get some days under your belt it feels like a full body massage when you finish). I’m also on my 10th day of a running streak but I’m only counting 4 because I feel like I wasn’t giving it my all the first 6 days. A friend who runs pretty much for a living gave me some great advice and now I’m on my A game. I’ve run more in the last 4 days than I have in my whole life collectively and that’s including when I was on the track team in high school.

I have plans to do some regular themed posts on certain days of the week to see how that goes. Full disclosure to my few readers: I am gearing up to publish a full blown website on recovery. I know, I know… 95% of sober people do this. I truly feel as though I have a unique perspective and voice in the community though and I genuinely want to help people. In truth it would give me an ego boost too, I won’t lie. Anyone who says otherwise is being deceptive. But we need to get something out of everything we do no matter how altruistic otherwise we will eventually quit.

As always, thanks for reading. I truly am grateful for everyone who reads or comments on my posts and seeing my visitor count go up with every post is exciting.