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Sisyphus is back on his bullshit
Meditations on depression, alcoholism and addiction
I stood there, shirtless. My eyes, dark. My stomach, distended. My head, swollen. My tits, supple.
Damn, these things are getting big. I don’t know what I need more— a training bra or an intervention.
I don’t even look at my body in the mirror anymore. I check to see if my mustache is symmetrical and then I get the fuck outta there before I accidentally ruin my day.
Abby found me on the couch again last night. Second straight weekend. It’s been a while since that happened— years.
“You know, you’ve drank every night this week,” she said.
Come to think of it, she was right.
I drank Monday because my friend Dan bought me a beer after work. That beer turned into a glass of wine and a Truly.
On Tuesday, I had a couple more Truly’s (they were Abby’s Truly’s. Now I have to buy her more Truly’s).
I gave Dan another ride home on Wednesday, resulting in another free gas station beer. I finished off the wine during Survivor. Lindsay got voted off this week. She had it coming.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t drink on Thursday, but Abby swears I did.
On Friday, I had three Truly’s and passed out at 9 p.m.
10 drinks on Saturday and another 5 on Sunday— that makes for approximately 26 drinks in total. Well, 7 of those beers were tall boys, so I guess it was technically 33. Is that a lot?
I can ask my doctor, but I’m pretty sure his medical diagnosis will be that I’m back on my bullshit.
I didn’t plan for this to happen. That’s the thing with alcoholism, it’s a progressive disease. I don’t mean, like, it voted for Bernie in the 2016 primaries. I mean it grows on you, like a fungus or Hootie and the Blowfish. It’s like a bathtub that’s been left unattended. It starts off harmless. It even gets kinda nice there for a second. Then at some point, the tub spills over. A puddle becomes a river. A river becomes a full-on deluge. Fast forward ten years and your house is ground zero for the new city of Atlantis. You gotta come up for air at some point.
I took a year off. Well, a year, four months and seven days, but who’s counting?
I really thought it would solve all my problems. I really did. I was totally convinced. Boy, was I wrong…
Humans are pretty stupid. Little binary-minded creatures, we are. We always think the grass is greener on the other side, but it rarely is, only in extreme circumstances. I mean, sure, if your lawn is infested with zombies that rape you, then yeah, you should find a new lawn.
But most of us aren’t getting raped by zombies. We’re being raped by our own intrusive thoughts, our own failings and insecurities, flavored by the spiritual rot of a dying society. Those feelings don’t just go away when you move to Seattle or change your gender. These deep-seated demons don’t disappear when you make some minor change like putting down the bottle or taking up pilates on Wednesdays. There are no simple answers. There are no shortcuts. I wish there were. I would’ve taken all of them by now.
Drinking isn’t the answer either. I know that. It’s fine now and again, but it gets uncool when my wife has to play sheriff, throwing me in jail every time I stay up too late rustlin’ cattle. That’s an unfair position to put her in. I get it. I’m an asshole. I need to change.
But god damn it, drinking makes my life a hell of a lot easier. They never talk about that side of it on A&E’s “Intervention.” They act like these people have no reason to drink in the first place.
Let me just throw a hypothetical at you:
Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re depressed. Like, from the moment you wake up, until the moment you go to bed, there’s this weight on your mood, this knot in the back of your head that makes smiling feel impossible. Hypothetically, you spend your entire day playing whack-a-mole with intrusive thoughts— reminders of failure or paranoid delusions about how everybody hates you. Say— and this is totally hypothetical— you try to make friends and connect with people but your negative energy pushes them away. You’re so stressed and burnt out all the time that you escape into your own head, avoiding eye contact and doing the bare minimum in conversations just to get through the day. Imagine, in this hypothetical world, the loneliness you would feel, being trapped in that kind of life, with that brain, going from therapist to therapist, medication to medication, meeting to meeting, trying to find a solution to your problem but the solutions that seem to work for everyone else don’t seem to work for you. And then to top it all off, you can’t even fucking sleep at night. Hypothetically, of course.
Imagine this was your reality and you had no reason to believe things were going to change any time soon.
Would you have a beer?
I mean, it’s just a fucking beer, man. You’re in a war, for Christ's sake. You’re gonna die from all this stress, I’m not joking! Stress is a killer! You’re gonna drop dead from a heart attack at 55— have a fucking Coors Light and chill out, you joyless sack of shit. God, you’re bumming everybody out!
They say men are considered “heavy drinkers” if they consume more than 4 drinks per day, or 14 in a given week. What a joke.
Who’s coming up with these numbers? Anthony Fauci?
Why are we operating under the assumption that most people want to drink responsibly?
We put “drink responsibly” at the end of every beer commercial, but does anyone ever check? Does anyone ever drive through the trailer park at 6 a.m. to count how many empty beer cans are crumpled up next to Dale’s unconscious body? No way, man. We just send the booze out into the universe and say, “Good luck!” If you wanna drink yourself to death in the privacy of your own front yard, that is your prerogative.
And why shouldn’t it be? Why should we be concerned about each other’s drinking habits, like little public health helicopter parents? Some people want to die and that’s fine. They were brought into this world without their consent, they don’t owe anybody anything, and even if they do, in 100 years, we’ll all be dead and none of this is going to matter.
Too bleak? Too nihilistic? Maybe, but I’m sick of all the posturing I see on the internet nowadays. October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Did you know that? What exactly does that accomplish? Absolutely nothing. A fucking non-for-profit will tie a purple ribbon around a tree and call it a day.
In my experience, most people don’t care, and even if they do, they don’t actually have the tools to do anything about the problem. Addicts can only help themselves. No amount of public “caring” or public funding is going to change the fact that some motherfuckers just want to die. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it stop drinking.
I’ve met a lot of alcoholics in my day and they all say the same shit, which is whatever they need to say to justify their next drink.
“It’s only one bottle of gin.”
“I only drink Everclear on the weekends!”
“Can’t you SEE I’m trying to ENJOY my BREAKFAST?”
In AA, they describe alcohol as “cunning, baffling and powerful.” I’ve always liked that. It makes alcohol sound like a Batman villain… Like alcohol puts on a mask and jumps into his Booze-mobile and drunk drives around the neighborhood giving shots to toddlers.
I never liked the way AA tries to mystify alcohol— like it’s this devil in a bottle that only God can save them from. If you ask me, it’s just a bunch of old people trying to project blame so they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. The devil made me do it. It’s the oldest excuse in the book.
We used to see addiction as a moral failing, an evil, a hedonistic impulse that needs to be stamped out like a fire or a rabid gerbil.
The trendy thing now is to see addiction as a disease, a public health crisis, a psychiatric disorder. The truth is, it’s all of the above.
Whether you see me as a sympathetic figure or a piece of shit really just depends on whether or not you like me. I don’t claim to be either, I just like getting fucked up.
I feel sad, booze makes me happy.
I feel anxious, booze makes me calm.
I feel restless, booze helps me sleep.
It’s a perfect solution to all my problems. If they had a better medicine, there wouldn’t be any alcoholics. There’s a reason why more than 85% of people who go to rehab end up back on their bullshit.
It’s not just “a thing you fix” and then life goes back to normal. It’s hardwired into our brains. The problem runs much deeper than 12 fluid ounces.
How you feel is how you feel. It doesn’t change how I feel. It doesn’t change how millions of Americans who struggle with addiction feel. It doesn’t change what’s happening, what will keep happening, then stop happening, then start happening again. Then stop for a couple of years. Then start again. Stop. Start. Stop. Start.
One day, I’m gonna die. Perhaps because of alcohol. Perhaps I’ll get breast cancer in one of my voluptuous A-cups. Perhaps I’m one of many casualties in the upcoming robot apocalypse. Whatever happens, none of it will matter. I’ll be another corpse tossed on top of the heap, microscopic in the grand scheme of the universe. No aliens will weep for me. I’ll pass on, just as I do nightly, into the frothy, white abyss.
Or maybe I’ll get sober and start jogging, or some shit. Who knows?
I’m taking a week off. I’ll let you know how it goes.