I can still hear my sister’s voice scolding me about selfishness. I wish it would shut up. I cringe whenever Polly spouts about anyone being selfish. My therapist helped me by saying that one hundred percent altruism is impossible. I agreed with her. After that, I was able to let it go and move on. To this day I think AA and other organizations that push altruism on people are absolutely stupid. As Sheryl said, it’s impossible to be completely selfless. People don’t realize what they are saying. My therapist was very rational and insightful. She made even the irrational sound logical and plausible. I kind of miss seeing her, actually.
Quarter after three. Then again, Sheryl could be a bad person too. She questioned my involvement in the church at a time when it helped me. Hank, at the store, did an odd thing this morning. He asked me about the church, then he cut me off and started talking to the customer behind me. The conversation involved the brand of cigarettes the guy smoked. After some analysis, I concluded that Hank, as a smoker, felt uncomfortable with the idea of the church. So, he began a conversation with another person who smoked. The customer was also a rider with the Free Souls, I guess. I grabbed my stuff, turned around, and left unnoticed. Free Souls. It makes me wonder what is the true nature of freedom. Is it the freedom to do self destructive things like alcohol and drugs and promiscuous sex? Is that freedom or is it a kind of bondage? I only know that alcoholism nearly killed me. And I found out that there is life without alcohol. A life without addictions is the other way of looking at freedom. The real free souls are people like me.
I read another 20 pages of Les Miserables. It makes me think about justice and conscience. About rectitude. This is so different from the amoral materialism of my drinking past. The highest good of materialism is pleasure. It just works out that way. Either that, or I’ve been brainwashed by theology. According to Hugo, to be honest is to be closer to God. This is like AA philosophy. But isn’t it possible to have honest doubts about whether God exists? Did David Hume have a good point? I had a friend who referred to all modern philosophers as bullshit artists. He was a Catholic. I reckon you’re either a theologian or a philosopher. And Les Miserables is definitely theological. Hugo makes it easy to get sucked into his vision of reality… I hear the singing of a particular bird outside. I heard a garbage truck groaning by. Now I can see it… The last time I read David Hume, I was drunk and seeking to disprove the idea that people have free will. I did this in order to be blameless for my alcoholism. That’s how distorted my thinking was due to being a drunk. And yet I still wonder if addicts are really responsible for their situation. I don’t think I was a bad person for drinking. Addiction can happen to anybody, and for any reason. I have to debate with myself whether to buy a Coke today. Would it be a special treat, or would I regret it later? It would give me a buzz and it would taste good. I can rationalize it by saying most people use caffeine every day. But the last time it made me short of breath I was scared.
Ten twenty. It’s another cloudy day. And it’s gray inside my soul as well. No extremes of pleasure or of pain. But the grayness is normal and healthy. I think I’ll settle for a ginger ale today. I could even drink water and be okay. I can buy hotdog makings. I can just take my time at the store, look around at stuff. I don’t know how seriously to take theological thinking. Maybe I’ve heard too many sermons. Sometimes materialism is appropriate, and just all right with me.
The sun is out again, but I’m alone with it. Funny that I haven’t thought about my family since the weekend. Especially Polly. It doesn’t matter what she believes. Her opinions are carbon copies of millions just like her. My ideas are liberal and lenient with people, not strict and judgmental… I might go out for ice cream. Strawberry. The sunshine is quite irresistible. I just got this image of the Virgin Mary, big with child, smoking a carton of cigarettes. This just kills me for some reason. Maybe it’s because I know Polly still smokes. Yes, my upright and virtuous sister smokes cigarettes. Hypocrite. People are so absurd. I can just see the Mother of God lighting up a Winston. Such an anachronism. I think Polly’s addiction has a loophole because tobacco is never mentioned in the Bible. Cigarettes and coffee get off scot free, but woe to the poor alcoholic. I always thought this double standard was ridiculous. I saw it everywhere in the recovery industry, smoking okay but alcohol the worst kind of sin. As if smoking never killed anybody too. I also saw a lot of finger pointing between smokers and drinkers… But never mind me. I’m just being silly.
Ten thirty five.
I had an intense drinking dream this morning. I was really very joyful, and I was with my friends Pastor and Eduardo. My mind is trying to dupe me into believing that I’ve been drinking when in fact I haven’t been. I guess if I had my wish I would go on a spree. Still I refuse to crack. My conscious self is in charge, the captain of my ship, regardless of what Freud asserted about the unconscious. Active alcoholism distorts the whole way you think, especially by rationalizing more drinking. It is a treacherous trap that kills you in the end. Evidently my brain still manufactures endorphins and remembers the crazy euphoria I used to get. It’s like being on heroin. I will go to the market soon and buy a soda of some kind. This is Saturday. I’m listening to my wiser self and denying my brain the pleasure it craves. Delaying gratification will bring about some greater good.
Quarter after ten. I feel better this morning. It’s a new month with bills to pay all over again. Aesop chased a squirrel so hard that he wiped out on his side. I guess he’s okay. Think I’ll go to the store now and look for something fun to eat and drink. Maybe chips and salsa. Never mind that it’s the season of Lent. It seems like the whole world is observing Lent this year and doing penitence. I want to enjoy myself today, regardless that Polly would call me selfish. I think she’s not very nice. At least let me have my ginger ale. I’ll just stroll over there and see what they have.
I saw a guy buying a half case of Keystone Light, much the way I used to, but usually not in the morning. I confess that I totally miss being able to drink beer. I was never happier than when I could. My relationship with alcohol was better than people, almost, until my body could take no more. I envy the people who can still drink and enjoy life. Maybe someday I’ll crack and get drunk. It’ll be unpredictable when it happens. Maybe I’ll save it for a special occasion. The sight of beer reminds me of Kate and happy times eight years ago. The only bummer is that if I drank, everyone would know I did. I’ve always been honest about it. Alcoholism is extremely tough to deal with. Probably I’m tempted now because of the crisis.
Friday noon hour.
I just read another story by Flannery O’Connor, “The River.” I thought it was good because it was ambiguous. Little Bevel has alcoholic parents like mine, so it’s not clear whether he will be saved or not. Reflecting on my own life, my parents definitely had alcohol for their religion. Everything else was subordinate to getting tipsy. And religion was pushed aside.
I got in touch with Katie from church this morning. I’m glad I did that. She said she doesn’t receive many calls. She has their phone numbers if she wants to talk to church members. Katie is in quarantine, though she is allowed to go to the drugstore. She told me that at two o’clock, there’s no traffic in Santa Clara. Usually River Road is packed with cars in the afternoon…
It’s a cloudy day. When the sun is at the meridian, it’s harder for me to think of times other than the present. My memory goes dormant. Vaguely I remember how I used to drink beer in the springtime seven years ago. I’d get mile high drunk and play Revolver on the speakers. How could I be so irresponsible? Dr T told me I was pissing my life away. Honestly I don’t recall what motivated my drinking. It was a lot of fun for a while. I know now that I’m not the only person addiction happens to. Maybe it’s a greater wonder how I was able to stop drinking. Some people never do… I think about alcohol every day and still don’t drink. It was such an expense, punching a huge hole in the bottom of my bank account. My finances are seaworthy again since avoiding alcohol… I think I’ll play my new P Bass again and really appreciate the nice things I have.
I had a donut at the salon and went to the store. Life seems almost normal despite the lockdown. The radio at the market was playing “Rooster” by Alice In Chains. A few times I stopped and told myself that this is reality. I’m supposed to call Todd in a half hour. Darcy was aware of the situation with Ride Source. So I get to have a phone appointment today. She said that Ride Source will be messed up for the next month. I’m beginning to wonder at the process of life. It seems there’s never a respite from the ups and downs. It’s a constant roller coaster, particularly to a sober person. The only nirvana is the delusion of being on drugs. My parents lived in this house as if it had been a safe haven from a world of chaos.
Quarter of one. Todd was concerned about my hemoglobin being elevated, so I called the office of my hematologist. They are working together on the concern right now. I don’t know what to think about that… I guess it indicates dehydration. Again it’s never a dull moment. The reprieve we’re all hoping for doesn’t come, and then we die. For many years, alcohol was my security blanket and shield from the hostile universe. Eventually it became just another item in the same menacing world. Now the force field has been deactivated and I’m a sitting duck. But so is everybody. We’re all in the same boat of danger and uncertainty. I can understand why people get addicted to things. We find a comfortable feeling and want to repeat it. When that comfort zone is used up, we seek another sensation. We don’t realize or admit that we are defenseless. In reality, we survive by our courage and our wits. The logic of the heart is our best weapon for staying alive. The brain can turn traitor on us, and then what do we do? Put one foot in front of the other…
It is Monday afternoon. Mike is talking about canceling band practice. His wife is worried because he has asthma, etc etc. It’s just predictable how people are going to react to mass hysteria. It reminds me of the terrorist who used to behead people and show the video afterwards. I don’t know how that ever got resolved, but it succeeded in scaring people. Fear is a great motivator, as George Bush figured out a long time ago. Nobody remembers that now. The public is easy to manipulate, and you can feed them any kind of lies and they will believe it. Especially if they are terrifying. I’m always suspicious of the media, especially since the Bush administration after my mom passed away. Every politician’s nose grew to be a foot long. Powell confessed to lying after the fact, but I never believed him in the first place. Wherever there’s something to be afraid of, we need to be especially cautious when listening to our government. I stopped watching television for good 13 years ago on principle. If you want to believe a lie, just turn on the tv. If you want the truth, kill your tv. And don’t go to the movies. Read books instead. Get your information firsthand, don’t take it on faith… Anyway, if Mike is paranoid about germs, then probably practice won’t happen this Saturday. It’s going to become a situation of people suspecting each other of being infected with the virus, pointing the finger and boarding up their doors and windows to keep others out. Meanwhile, the sun shines down placidly, languidly, oblivious to human cares. I’d kind of like to be the sun, with the sun’s indifference and unswerving honesty. Life is a lot more peaceful that way.
Five o’clock. But inevitably, I feel lonely without people around. While it might be nice to build a log cabin on the shore of Walden Pond and live isolated for an indefinite period of time, one still gets lonely. Perhaps there is no truth or lie without people to create it. It’s just hard to watch public opinion go astray and feel obliged to go along with it. Who knows what the truth is? The sun knows; or perhaps it doesn’t know. I had a frenemy who told me in exasperation that there is no truth at all, so quit looking for it. It seems like a long time ago, and it was. Funny, but back then I was misled by Freud’s topography of the human mind. He borrowed his model from Plato’s Republic, which divides the self into the head, the heart, and the gut. It doesn’t matter now what Plato and Freud believed. I was susceptible to a silly paradigm for some reason. It was a belief that maybe caused me some problems. There was an alternative recovery program to AA called Rational Recovery, originally with a basically Freudian idea of a “Beast” that subconsciously wanted to drink. It was only another money-making gimmick in the name of recovery from addiction. I don’t trust any of those programs anymore. Not one. The only way to get sober is to become convinced that drinking alcohol will kill you. And the only way to do that is to nearly die from your addiction. Sobriety is easy after you’ve received this indelible impression. If you want to live, then you will find a way to do it without alcohol. But now I look back on those cheesy gimmicks and sort of smile. They are ineffectual and a useless waste of time. Nothing works until you are serious about life without alcohol.
Eleven o’clock. On my way to the store, I realized how manic I was on the two liter of Coca Cola I had over 24 hours. That’s too much caffeine and sugar. My experiment with caffeine failed again. I can never control my intake once I start. The first day, I bought a one liter, then the second day it doubled. That’s true addictive behavior. Today I bought ginger ale, but two liters of it. That’s still excessive. Now I have to wait all day for the effect to go away. Well might I be a disciple of Edgar Allan Poe, being as he was alcoholic and unstable, and dead at age forty. My appointment with Todd is this Wednesday. I have to call Ridesource today or tomorrow. I also bought a big burrito and scarfed it down as soon as I got home. That might help buffer some of the caffeine. Thank goodness it wasn’t alcohol I had! The harm would be much worse. The Beast lies dormant below the threshold of consciousness, but it doesn’t take much to wake it up. When it is awake, like Smaug the Dragon it is insatiably greedy. The best way to keep it manageable is not to feed it at all. One taste of Coca Cola is enough to start the snowball rolling. Next, it becomes a boulder of ice, steamrolling everything in its path. The whiteness of it resembles the white whale Moby Dick, whose mighty bulk and strength pulled down the Pequod, drowning every sailor but one. The Rachel circled back and rescued Ishmael… but who’s going to rescue us?
I was dreaming of an omnivorous wood in my front yard, perhaps the leaves that were never picked up, and mixed with the mud of the backyard. Again, it was the undifferentiated mud of life I read about a week ago in a book. I wonder how Huxley’s mud would be psychologized by a Jungian? Voila this amorphous plaster of potential life, a theory in the minds of hopeful evolutionists, but not corroborated by the findings. It was to biology what gold was to alchemy. All that it lacked was life. You couldn’t put together water, nitrogen, and something else and arrive at life. There was yet a spark, unidentified, that seemed of extraterrestrial origin. What was that missing element so vital? Was it information, or the way information is stored? What was the first memory, the first thought? Surely some reanimator could repeat the Creation? And thereby aspire as high as the builders of Babel. But it was denied to human science to be on a par with God…
My memory reels back eight years to the gambling addiction of my then yard man. A bumper sticker on his pickup truck mocked the Big Bang theory. In a phone conversation he deprecated scientists for deeming themselves as wise as God. I had no opinion on that, though his attitude annoyed me, for my brother was a scientist. Bill only wanted to start a fight. His politics was to the far right. But all of his God touting could never solve his gambling problem. He prayed and prayed, all to no avail. Meanwhile, he gave me a hard time for drinking. I wonder where he is now, and how he’s doing. He would look totally different to me in my sobriety. I might perceive him as quite a stranger, but with a sympathy I didn’t have before…