What the Hell Is Wrong with Me?
I feel a taste of success and go flying out to remedy it. It’s not something I allow myself. It’s not something I appreciate. It’s not something I feel I will ever have. This is more than alcoholism. It’s a denial of independence.
A friend of mine died recently. He died because his body couldn’t handle alcohol, but he kept on drinking. He kept on thinking he was invincible. Or else he saw that he was killing himself. I know it’s possible to see both things at the same time. Maybe he did.
I thought the lesson of his death was that we need to treat people with mental problems with more kindness. I thought that it meant that we need to show support and love in any way we can, even when it hurts, because the person I knew him to be was someone who accepted people, who showed love in a way that was profound to the ones he gave it to. I thought that if someone could have been there in the right way at the right time with the right word, or that if a thousand someones were in little ways across time, that it might not have ended this way.
But each decision he made that pushed people away sealed him tighter in the drum he was in and the chaos was a bacteria in there with him that grew and pushed at the borders of himself. For right or for wrong.
I see now that he didn’t accept himself. He was out there. There was a touch of immortal about the way he saw things and did things and because there was a divinity mixed in with the breakdowns, the upsets, the losses, the addictions, the broken friendships, the arrests, and the assaults, because of this, there was no talking to him. There was right in the same place where the wrong was and no one could square that, least of all him. There was inspiration in the self-abuse. There was strength in the veneer of denial. There was growth in the loss — a crooked, lateral growth that expanded something that seemed important and was hard or impossible to let go of.
In this last year, since I started to drink again, I thought that the hurdles alcohol took away were worth the consequences. It’s really hard for me to contemplate letting go of that ease in access to my strongest thoughts, to the shackled person inside.
When I went back to my hometown, I saw the behaviors that hurt me. They came from outside me and became part of me. I will, forever, in my mind, be an idiot, a moron, hysterical, and ashamed of my emotions. My abuse was shone in my face like a spotlight and set off a Rube Goldberg machine inside me. “This is where it comes from!” my mind shouted. I was angry and tried so hard not to show it. I am angry. Maybe it’s all I am. And all this time, I thought the recognition of what it was and where it came from made me immune from the pain. But I’m tucked right back into that cycle. I need, selfishly, to live it large to illustrate to myself what it is. It starts small: a humiliation I can pick at and chew on until I do something worse, then worse, then worse. It’s an echo that becomes a hurricane and wipes out everything good I ever do. I do it so I can be comfortable in my worthlessness. So I can be the problem that everyone can focus on and solve, so I can be the bad guy, so I can nullify myself again and again and again. Back to 0. And when I think I’m over it, I do it again. I’m the symptom exhibitor. And in the midst of a proud hour, I have to chop myself apart no matter who’s in proximity to the hatchet.
Knowing this doesn’t change anything. It’s the same as it ever was. I have always known. I will always know. The lesson has always been the same. Without alcohol, with alcohol, I manage it anyway. Drinking is the brick on the accelerator, but the car’s already pointed toward the lake and the kids are in the trunk. It’s only the destruction of my hubris that makes me who I am, and makes me hate who I have the potential be more than who I am. It’s the only thing that saves me. It kills me.