The Beastie

Tonight I had a bout with caffeine poisoning, I think. It was very uncomfortable. But even while I was going through it, I could see a pattern to my behavior that started during the summer, when on Fridays I would splurge on a two liter of Coca-Cola and get tipsy on caffeine and sugar. It’s obvious what I really want to drink at a subconscious level but I don’t allow that to happen.
So I wonder what I can do to subvert this pattern. I need to find something else to do with my Friday afternoons, preferably something social. But I made a bit of progress today by volunteering in the morning for the food pantry. At the same time that I poisoned myself yesterday, I also fought against myself on the alcoholic impulse.
Who was it I was talking to recently about alcoholism? She said it really is a disease and very difficult to deal with. Oh yeah, it was Barb, from church, when we talked in her car outside my house. Why is it that Plato is always right about the lunatic impulses of the multifarious beast of the human psyche? I can reject his model all I want, but analysis in hindsight shows the same patterns every time.
The unpardonable sin is to “succumb” to alcoholism, in my opinion. In my case, this would surely be fatal. An alcoholic can rationalize that drinking beer is what he wants to do, therefore he’s going to permit himself to drink. This is the argument from authenticity— but it’s a very bad one. And when you do give in to the disease, every thought you have turns into further rationalization to get drunk.
It can be a terrible battle but it’s still worth fighting to free yourself from it.

The Rough Spots

Four o’clock.

The change to fall is very difficult for me this year. I wasn’t ready for summer to end, and now I’m up a creek without a paddle. The days will only get darker and drearier as time passes onward to winter. I wonder what the problem is? I’m a smart guy; I should be able to figure it out. Probably I simply want to drink beer and get loose with somebody and have a good time. That’s why I’m not very happy with my life today. I grew up like an epicurean, and all of my friends were like me. Now I’m sort of lost in the twilight world in between daylight and the nightlife, or culture and counterculture. It’s interesting that even Thomas Jefferson declared himself an epicurean; and I knew someone who had respect for Jefferson, referring to him often. Another friend of mine told me she liked pleasure and having fun. Wouldn’t a person be stupid to avoid a good time? It’s turning from a philosophical problem to a practical one. I’ll just have to talk myself through it. Maybe it’ll be like this every day for a while until I’ve ironed out the rough spots. And perhaps it’ll take a reevaluation of the place where I got an education a very long time ago…

Ancestor Worship / Pleasure

Quarter of six.

My dog Aesop went back down the hallway to jump in bed again. He didn’t use to be so independent, so this is a new habit for him. His birthday was earlier this month: ten years old now. I was done sleeping at three o’clock, after dreaming about my dad, and then I wrote a description and analysis of it in my journal. Dad’s birthday would be this Thursday if he had lived. I think it’s good that I have his genetics to put strength into my recovery. The Japanese have been known to worship their ancestors, so I think maybe my dad is something like a Higher Power to me. My first recovery, twenty years ago, involved him to some extent as well. Yet I don’t know exactly what pushed me to relapse, unless it was simply trying to work a job with the stress that attends it. I found myself in a situation where my choices were inauthentic and it seemed I had no way out, so the only escape was to drink great quantities of beer. Several people bullied and shamed me to do things I really didn’t want to do. And again, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks because it’s down to just you and your life alone. My family can judge away if they disapprove of me: it won’t make any difference because after all I am sober and taking care of myself the best I can. I used to be a people pleaser but I don’t play that game anymore; it’s not worth the grief.

Seven thirty.

Rain is expected at eight o’clock this morning. Even now it looks pretty dark outdoors. I wore my rain jacket with a hood when I made my trip to market. I got Aesop some chicken strips, reasoning that he deserves a little pleasure from life, like everybody. In fact, I’ve denied myself fun and pleasure for a very long time. Meanwhile, the church is losing its grip on people, possibly for the same reason I just mentioned. In my journal I suggested that maybe the Bible is a work of epic poetry and written for the aesthetic pleasure of it. This would be the most skeptical thing I ever said of scripture. As a religion, it has lost its force for many people. Now the forecast says cloudy, so the rain either came and went or it never happened. Pastor’s daily email was very short today. I wonder what’s up with that.

Birthday for Two

Well it looks like I’m going to make it for my birthday tomorrow: five years of sobriety, and nothing really mysterious about it.

I actually sent an email to my former friend about the anniversary. I only did that to make myself feel better; it has nothing to do with him at all. I doubt if he’ll reply, and that’s just as well.

Tomorrow will come and go like every day, but the word of the day is “relief.” It’ll be a huge burden rolling off my shoulders, and then I can get on with my life.

I know it happened three years ago, but the house fire 🔥 is on my mind today. Amazing to me that I lived through a fire and what that means symbolically and psychologically, even in an occult way. For me, it means my transformation to an independent person, which is like the zodiac sign Aries and my life path number of 1. Sometimes I get into this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s stupid and bogus; or then again maybe it’s not. I think I’ll look up fire in the dictionary of symbols.

I feel pretty puffed up with myself just now. I feel really good about my recovery ❤️‍🩹 and how far I’ve come. I’m a much stronger and braver person now than before I quit drinking and took control of my life.

Woo hoo! It’s a very big deal!

I should order myself a pizza 🍕 tomorrow afternoon and pig out! Call it a birthday for Aesop and me.

Say

Seven thirty.

The air has cleared of the smoke somewhat since yesterday. Also yesterday, I did some reading work on Percy Bysshe Shelley for an understanding of his rejection of Christianity, although he admired the Greeks, and he still believed in a certain Power coeternal with nature. I was about to read Alastor again. But I think Shelley was kind of dumb to multiply entities in his view of the world. If phenomena can be explained solely by physics then what do we need the spirit for? I knew a friend who used to say, “Something’s keeping my heart beating.” And I told him it was his nervous system and the AV nodes of his heart, and it was all physical. Of course, I played the devil’s advocate with him; my bad. He told me that I was fucked if I wanted to stay sober. For a while, I fulfilled his prophecy, almost as if to make him happy. It came to a point where it didn’t matter whom I was pleasing. Everything was different when it became a life and death decision. Then it was just me and the booze; no one else counted. And that’s what I have to remember when those AA’s get in my face these days, telling me I’m going to relapse and what not. What they say says more about themselves than about me. And tomorrow is my anniversary no matter what people say. Now it’s my turn to say someone is fucked. 

On Labor Day

Midnight.

For the sake of old times and also as a birthday gift to myself, I just ordered three little volumes of poetry from the Library of America. Vitally, one of them is of Walt Whitman, who wrote the bible of American poetry with Leaves of Grass in 1855. I also picked Poe plus an anthology of Civil War poetry.

I had a gruesome dream tonight about my poverty, having no car and shuffling around the neighborhood like some kind of hobo. I dreamed that a couple of guys were going to beat the shit out of me just for sport. It’s like what happened to Robin Williams in The Fisher King. He winds up in the hospital, but then Jeff Bridges goes and steals his “Holy Grail” from a rich residence and puts it in his hands.

It was a movie I watched on the recommendation of a friend two decades ago. We’ve lost touch long since, yet I still remember him and something that happened on Labor Day weekend that year. Namely, I started drinking again, but I may never know exactly why. If I knew, then would it guarantee that I’d never relapse again?

Daring

Seven thirty.

One by one, Randy has been hauling away the cars from his lot on the corner of N Park and Maxwell Road. I don’t know for sure when Will’s Auto Repair is moving in. Whatever, it must be a situation that benefits both parties… My mind has been on my fifth birthday of sobriety and how I dared to show up 12 Steppers. I actually feel kind of remorseful for doing this, and I’m not complacent by any means. What if the AA’s are right and I’ve been wrong the whole time? I’m afraid I’m going to slip or have a full blown relapse to active alcoholism simply because those people said it would happen. According to them, if you don’t surrender control over to your Higher Power and keep it yourself, “you’ll drink it.” I’ve struggled with AA doctrine ever since my introduction to it in 1991. So now, with five years sober, I’m sort of quaking in my boots after all the warnings I’ve heard from them. Again I remind myself that there has to be more than one way to do things. The date of the anniversary is actually the 12th. It’s not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of myself.

Exile

Quarter after nine at night.

Even in sleep, it’s the same old ambivalent feelings on things old and new. I had three good friends I gave up when I decided to quit drinking— friends a little on the shady side: they bent the rules whenever it served them to do so. I know a guy today who reminds me of the same thing. I run into him occasionally at the little market. His face is a bit red, presumably from drinking alcohol, yet I really like the guy. He summons my brother to my mind and the good times we used to share on our trips to the coast. I feel as if I had to make a choice like that of Prince Henry when he said to Falstaff, “I know you not.” …I don’t think there’s anything great or distinguished about being sober, especially when it’s such a struggle for me to maintain. Often I feel like saying screw it and getting drunk just to be my natural self again. Suddenly I remember a day a decade ago at Grocery Outlet when I bought some English breakfast tea and later told my friend in Scotland about it. I miss those kinds of things. I miss my old friends. 

A Series of Todays

Noon.

Well I’m just stuck. Church wasn’t much fun; my heart wasn’t in it. It’s hard to be enthusiastic for something you don’t believe. I thought it would be nice to mingle with some real people but it didn’t make that much difference. I don’t know what I want… The mail carrier just put a package in my mailbox: a couple of books that I ordered Friday… I believe I’m cranky because I crave beer or something for a sugar fix, so I might go buy a sweet treat at the store. The sugar is bad for you but it beats doing alcohol. My dad acquired a sweet tooth after he quit smoking; he kept a bowl of lemon drops in the family room and he’d take a handful once in a while in the evening. Who am I to be better than my dad? The truth is that sobriety is very difficult. The first few years were pretty easy but it’s getting worse with time.

Dr Pepper sounds good right now. Fully leaded, with all the sugar, caffeine, and fizz. I won’t be happy until I get one.

Or if it’s a test, maybe can stick it out for today… and do the same thing tomorrow… 

Recovery

Quarter of nine at night.

There’s still twilight outside that I can see from my position. This afternoon I caught myself doing too much second guessing of other people’s thoughts on everything. The fact is that no one is clairvoyant enough to do that: telepathy doesn’t exist in real human experience. So I began to ponder what ever happened to cognitive therapy, since it was pretty big four years ago and very effective because it was realistic and based on evidence. People are less depressed when they are disabused of their distorted thinking. And, mind reading is an example of a cognitive distortion. First you catch yourself doing it, then you counter the distorted thought with a more rational one, one that is more realistic.

I hate to see a good method abandoned in favor of much older and less effective ones; yet this is the debate of reason versus romance that has gone on for more than three centuries. I’ve never seen a homeopathic remedy be very useful, especially against a disorder like schizophrenia: it makes no sense to fight delusions with more delusions. I guess it depends on the place of imagination, its meaning and its utility. I struggle when I pick up an author like Samuel Taylor Coleridge: I get vertigo from being lost in a misty fantasy of unnecessary abstraction, so I’m better off to avoid this stuff. The romance tends to sneak its way into even what we call science. It keeps us human and organic to use our imaginations, so probably the solution is a state of balance.

Schizophrenia is an extreme wherein imagination exceeds the boundaries of reality. But I don’t see much of that around me anymore. I remember when the streets at night were like rivers in hell, shrouded in fog that stank of brimstone. With age and with drug therapy, those things have sort of vanished in thin air. I’ve also grown callous to them over time.