Father’s Day and Tuesday’s gone… (personal update)

One week into my new commitment to go a new way and leave alcohol alone. Also happens to be the Tuesday after Father’s Day, the day my Papa passed away 6 years ago. Thought about him some today, but then I thought about him all week. Think about him regularly enough regardless. He’s never far from my heart and mind.

It’s been a reasonably good day. Didn’t have much work to tend to, then went to the gym for about an hour. Unfortunately though, I came home and checked my bank account and found out someone had made two fraudulent charges through my debit card. Took over $250 out of my bank account, and I don’t have money to throw around these days. Called my bank immediately to dispute the charges, so my debit card is now deactivated until a new one arrives. Their site said that they offer “zero liability” protection for those of us subjected to fraud, meaning so long as we report the incident shortly after it occurs they will dispute it on our behalves and cover the fraudulent charges. One was to a website I’ve never shopped at, the other I have no clue about — don’t even know what type of company it is. Lady on the phone said maybe my debit card number was picked up by a card reader on a gas pump since that’s apparently a new fad among criminals. Told me to go inside to pay for now on instead. The matter will hopefully be resolved within 2-10 days.

Of course I can’t afford that right now. But what can I do? Some asshole decided to create havoc, and I’m surely not the only one being targeted. My former partner wonders if it had anything to do with that raunchy pub, but I’ll have to wait for my bank to sort it all out. Don’t know. Doubt his speculation seriously though. They’re low there, but I doubt they’re that smart. Either way, we’ll wait and see.

So that wasn’t good. But other than that, the day went fine. Overall, still not a day worth pitching a fit over. Financial matters can be remedied. My stepdad texted me earlier this morning to thank me for the letter I sent to him for Father’s Day. Decided, since he basically owns whatever he wants (or can at least afford it), and also since he has a young one now he probably doesn’t have free time to read books (typical gifts for one another), that I’d write down 10 areas where he had a positive impact on my life. This list included the music he exposed me to (sometimes inadvertently since I’d dig through his collection when he was out of the house), his decision to not subscribe to cable television (leading me to not subscribe to it either most of my adult life), the interesting books he provided us access to (particularly the science books, as well as the comics like Calvin and Hobbes and The Farside Gallery), his role modeling by working hard to become a successful professor, his thriftiness (which didn’t rub off on me much but is still a worthwhile example since few others in my family ever knew how to save any money), etc. Tried to keep it relatively light-hearted yet honest. Felt good to write that all down. Thought about doing so for a couple years now but never worked up the nerve. This past week felt like the right time to go ahead. Especially now that he has a 16-month-old baby to rear up with his new wife. Made me happy that the letter made him happy.

Called my Grandma on Father’s Day since I figured she was thinking about Papa too. And she was. Not too positive of thoughts though, as to be expected. Those two had a tumultuous relationship over the 50 or more years they were together. But it was good to talk to her. I don’t mind listening to some of that since it’s on her mind and she doesn’t have many people to talk to about it. But I still like to remember Papa in my own way, as who he was toward me and not just how everybody else in the family viewed him. He was a good Papa. Not perfect, but he loved me and it showed. And I love him very, very much. Always have and always will. That’s another reason for quitting drinking when I did, because I wanted to be sober this time around in honor of Father’s Day and his passing, knowing what all he went through with alcohol and understanding that he never meant for me to follow in suit.

Ever since he died Tuesdays have almost become sacred in a way. A day of remembrance and change. Like I can leave Tuesday to the past and move forward in a new way. At least that’s how it’s come to feel for me. So I took hold of that sentiment once again and decided this was the right time. It’s a good time. Two years ago I started to attempt the same thing, but I wasn’t straight enough in the head yet. Apparently hadn’t plunged quite deep enough yet. But this time around feels different. I feel ready. My resolve is strong now. To honor myself, to honor Papa and his memory, to show love to the rest of my friends and family, and to not contribute reckless nonsense to society in an unnecessary way (at least this form of it). One step at a time though. One day at a time.

Surely there will be more problems on the horizon. Always are. But now I can confront them and hopefully manage them better than before. It means the world to me that Papa would be proud. I want to be proud of myself too. Desperately need to be right about now, but only for good reason. I know my friends will all be supportive once they know. Preferring not to talk about it with most people until I have more of a handle on the situation and have more time under my belt to demonstrate how serious I am. They will be glad. Some of them don’t know the half of what I’ve put myself through, but they might have an inkling of an idea seeing as how this has been difficult to conceal. Gone on too long. Been down too long. They know I haven’t been living right. Hence why I tend to stay at a distance more and more with many of them.

Missed a galpal’s wedding reception this month. I didn’t even call to let her know I couldn’t make it. Just spaced it until after the fact. She might be upset, but I don’t know since I haven’t reached out to her yet. Waiting for the smoke to clear a bit first. Once I have money again I’d like to get her a little wedding gift, considering I’ve been an absentee in recent months. Little regrets like that keep adding up. Hard to smooth them all over. She might not even wish to speak to me anymore on account of that, which I’d have to understand. Not much of a weddings person myself, but apparently they mean a whole lot to other folks. And I knew better. It’s nearly all she’s been able to talk about over the last year.

Tonight my former partner invited me over for grilled hamburgers. That went well and we got along just fine. Watched some television afterward and tucked him into bed under the cool fan. Rubbed his belly a bit to help him relax since he had a long, hot day at work. On Father’s Day his son took him out to dinner, which he enjoyed. Doesn’t get to see him as much now that he’s grown up and is attending college. Soon he’ll be moving an hour away to attend a university.

These close men in my life I’ll always be loyal to, even if I haven’t always done right by them. But I do love them all. We are family, whether we were tied together by blood or bonds. I wish to become more upright for them too. All we have is one another in this life. It’s all anybody has, if we’re lucky.

I have been blessed. Lots of weird blessings in disguise, but blessings just the same.

Went on a bike ride with my trainer yesterday and didn’t get as winded as I usually do. Perhaps because he had to ride a bit slower due to recovering from blood clots. Perhaps because I had a little more energy as well. While on the bike trail we passed a George Carlin-look-alike riding a unicycle. lol  Shit you not. Only place outside of California (and maybe Colorado) where you’re liable to see something like that.

While out walking yesterday I came across a dead Monarch butterfly in the street. Not sure why that stuck in mind but it has. Just a random observation.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting week. Not too busy. Mellow yet odd-feeling, but still it’s been all right. Cravings aren’t kicking my ass, which is good. Watched my former drink in front of me twice this week and it wasn’t a temptation. Simply don’t want to go back down that road. Already know well enough where it leads. And it feels good to not be conflicted. Didn’t expect that. Figured it might be hell to quit, but so far it’s not a loud nagging. Though I have been noticing how much alcohol advertising is frickin’ everywhere out in society. The cravings are there, but they’re not overwhelming at this time. So I just pick up and walk on and refuse to focus on them.

Finished up listening to the audiobook The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault after putting it on hold this past week. It was all right. Fairly interesting. Honestly turned out to not be my cup of tea, but Dr. Charles Murray recommended it in his (audio)book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life, which I listened to before that. He’s an agnostic but his wife became a Quaker and he sees the value in adopting a religious belief system. There was value in Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, though I’m not sure it was the right message for me at this moment, as an agnostic myself. But some of the historical information and differing interpretations were new to me and provided food for though. Currently re-listening to Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life, a personal favorite.

That’s about it for now.

Examples of drunks and late-stage alcoholics

Kevin O’Hara, showcased in the last post, suggested we do a search on youtube and check out examples of alcoholics, particularly late-stage. I widened the net a bit, but here are a few results that came up:

Charley reminds me of a couple people I know in the neighborhoods bars…

That last one was powerfully emotional to watch. Very sobering to imagine being in his family’s predicament.

Goes to show there’s a difference between being a heavy albeit problem drinker versus being a full-blown alcoholic. But, then again, it’s a process getting to that extreme that first began with creating (or giving into) a habit of drinking regularly.

That’s enough of that for now.

AlcoholMastery

A channel I recently came across and have been watching the last couple of days, AlcoholMasteryTV:

I get where he’s coming from SO MUCH in that video above in terms of how he used to be as a drinker. His story gives me hope.

“Keep the alcohol out of your mouth.” Yep. Personal decision.

Personally not interested in purchasing his (or anybody else’s) course, but he has a bunch of videos up for free on his channel that are useful.

His channel is a good resource.

Saturday afternoon journaling in June 2017

Now on day 4 of my commitment toward change. Arm muscles are finally back to normal. Can extend them fully once again. Had dinner with my former partner last night and he said I had just awakened muscles in my forearm that probably had never been stressed so hard, then allowed them to get dehydrated and fatigued the day afterward, so there’s nothing really to worry about there. That’s good. Was nervous for a couple days there that I had damaged a tendon or ligament or something. But all is fine now.

Of course I’m still thinking about what all has transpired recently and why and how I feel about it. That last night out (Monday the 12th), the one where I mentioned the older lady bartender at the calmer bar seeming slightly nervous toward me, keeps running through my mind. The bar was dead that evening. A couple here or there would roam through but otherwise I was sitting in there alone, drinking and playing music on the jukebox. Wasn’t being rowdy or anything, just didn’t want to go home. And it’s that fear of going home that keeps perplexing me. Felt it so many nights while out and about. Like I’m afraid to be with myself, to sit there with my troubled thoughts and ideas and ruminations. That’s been the driving force for me in the barscene for as far back as I can remember. Just didn’t want to go home and be alone. And once it came time for me to return home, I’d want to be “set” to where I’d go to sleep shortly. Put myself out. If I didn’t drink enough at the bar to do the trick, I’d drink more once I got in. And I recall doing just that in my early 20s and here I am in my mid-30s still attempting to do the same thing.

That’s a lot of years of running from something. But what gets me is that I do look at my past and examine it in as much detail as I can. Always have done so. And I do look at what I’ve done wrong and let myself feel it deeply and acknowledge it for what it is. Just because I think about it, though, doesn’t make it go away. Worked it all out as much as I could hope to and yet here it always remains. Back another day to remind me. My thoughts are there when I drink though too. They don’t disappear. Might go under the radar for a while when distracted by others, but they crop back up as the night wears on. Not uncommon that by the end of the evening I’m actually fairly depressed or melancholic (as I prefer to call it). In other words, I didn’t remain a fun drunk for long many nights. I know that. Others knew that too. Told me so on occasion.

So the alcohol didn’t even fix what it was intended to fix, not even temporarily. Not even throughout the full evening of drinking. The thoughts always rise back up before all is done and said. And I believe it’s those thoughts I’ve been aiming to escape from all these years. I don’t know what to do with them. Don’t know how to tame them. But it’s clearly evident by now that adding alcohol to the mix not only doesn’t sufficiently eradicate them for long but also provides breeding ground for new reasons to be upset with myself.

I see it. I understand. More now than ever.

Not sure why I seem so afraid of sitting alone with myself for too long. Why it makes me stir-crazy and uncomfortable. I’ve known me long enough by now to recognize that these are simply thoughts, memories, and that they can’t do much more than pester me. Seems they wish for some sort of expression, some outlet, some way of being concretized, so to speak. And actually, if I’m honest with myself, I have known this for a long time. Guess I haven’t wanted to do it. Didn’t want to have to sit with them so intimately and try to fashion them into something else. Maybe it feels too personal, too sorrowful, too impossible to remedy. But they’re just emotions, and life could’ve been much worse. Not dealt the worst lot here. Just an awfully emotional person who feels these things so deeply that that worries me. Made me think these emotions might capsize my little ship eventually if I took up too much time with them all. So instead I opted for a “slow death” (as I call the drinking lifestyle), which is no better. Not one bit better. Very likely much, much worse. Dangerous for myself and others and completely unproductive in the big scheme of things.

So there’s no choice here right about now. This is what it is, and this is calling for what it wants. Maybe taking up these concerns and finding a way to make use of them will eventually satisfy that internal “gremlin” a bit too. I always return to what Erich Fromm wrote about our options as people: we can either find a productive path or wind up becoming destructive (whether toward others and/or ourselves). I’ve always known his words to be true, and yet I ran anyway and created this situation for myself. Reasoning alone apparently isn’t ever enough.

But I hear it now. Understand more than before, now that there are so many more memories added to the heap, generated within the last several years. New forms of destruction and chaos that were sparked by my hands and my words this time around. Teaches me about the dark side to one’s being. Our capacity to cause harm, whether we deliberately set out to do so or not. And that’s been a valuable lesson. Gotta thank something out there for showing that to me in the ways it has.

Seems to be true that we start to really strive toward heaven once we have reckoned with hell. Otherwise we don’t know what we’re even striving for. But, then again, most roads to hell are paved with good intentions. Maybe dealing in our own versions of the abyss is what helps clarify what’s actually better, more worthwhile, truly healthier, less idealistic and more real.

I can’t regret these years fully since they’ve provided a treasure trove of opportunities to observe others and myself. Lots of shocking material there. Parts of myself I wouldn’t have believed existed had I not witnessed it directly, and same goes for plenty of others. We humans are far more complex than we can imagine, because life is far more complex than we are capable of imagining. Consciousness is a trip, to say the least.

It is what it is. And I’m here to explore it amongst all of you. No one’s perfect, nor is it worthwhile to expect anybody to be. Not even sure what perfection really entails anymore. Just no longer want to toss chance to the wind and act like I’m not responsible for any outcomes when that’s so obviously not true. Such a strategy is an attempt to hide from reality. But we know how that goes…we can run on for a long time, but sooner or later we will be cut down…

True. And it’s okay. I know these days that I can take the pain. Besides, there’s nowhere else to run. And so be it. This is a blessing in disguise, I do know that and appreciate it as such. Just a transition period right now is all. Gonna take time to get my bearings and to form new habits and whatnot. Still, this is FAR better than the road I’ve been on, even if this winds up being treacherous for a spell. So far it is not, but I am preparing myself for that possibility and will accept it if it comes. Because it’s just life. This is how it can roll. Still better than the alternative I had been pursuing. That was monotonous and nihilistic and was tearing me apart. Turning me into something I didn’t want to be. Don’t want to go back there ever again. Not like that. Too pointless and painful and chaotic and uncontrollable. Became useless. Frustrating and saddening and pitiful and not much else.

Why do we fear life and living? Why do we try to hide out and not be seen for what we are? And why have we humans been attempting this since the dawn of time? What are we so afraid of? Rejection? We’re going to be forced to deal with that regardless. Pain and suffering? Same deal. Failure? I think that hits closer to the mark. Existential guilt and confusion.

Anyway, time to move on to something else.

Personal thoughts on an early Thursday morning in spring 2017

Got to thinking about my dad tonight. And by that I mean my ex-stepdad who was the only dad I’ve ever known. Had Papa (my grandpa) as my other and predominant father figure. But they both had a major influence.

While writing the last post I got to thinking if my dad had been quizzed would he even know how many schools I’ve attended? Nine (excluding one other for a short spell in the first grade in MS). He didn’t have that kind of life. Neither did my mother. Neither did my little brother who began attending a private school in the first grade that he attended until graduation. Totally different lives. Can make it hard to relate at times.

Don’t wonder if my mother knows since I doubt she’d ever care.

Somehow it all went this way. And that’s okay, or at least it simply is what it is. Nobody promised us a rose garden. Yet, that which sets us apart is also what provides us a unique perspective. At least in theory. Heh

I’m not mad at them. My life has been interesting, to say the least. Hope it continues to be so. Probably would help if I left bars alone for the most part, particularly that one mentioned already that sucks. Don’t have enough patience for all that. Better to sit alone than deal with jackasses and jerks. Though I do like to visit with my pals who aren’t assholes. It’s a conundrum where my “dark side” or gremlin (as I prefer to call it) keeps winning out. Totally destructive aspect of my being, and I do recognize it. That’s my battle at present. Fed the wrong wolf for too long apparently. Certainly not proud of that. But such is life. Better to see it for what it is than remain willfully blind.

Been seeing that for a while now though. Won’t pretend I haven’t. The “dark side” definitely has its intoxicating effects. Been here for so long that it seems to be in my nature. And maybe it is, intrinsically.

Life is crazy, life is mad…  So what’s your destiny? Take it, take it in your hands. To paraphrase a beloved Enigma song.

And so be it.