“Addiction – Reconsidered” (plus personal thoughts)

Liked that video and want to share it with others. Often lately I think about the notion of being cleansed by fire, which is to say purified in some sort of way through trials and struggles.

This past weekend was the first time in months I’d talked to my (ex-step)dad and brother on the phone. Told them that I had quit drinking, which I’d been holding off on sharing with some folks until I had more progress under my belt. Today marks the beginning of week 11 since my commitment to stop drinking. Dad asked if it’s been difficult, if there were physical side effects like shakes, and I told him this time around it’s actually been surprisingly easy, as it has. Though it’s been perplexing me as to why it’s felt so comparably easy.

When I think on it, I believe the reason is that the process actually began a little over 2 years ago. Back then I did get shaky at times due to going through spells where I’d drink entirely too much and hurt my body. Drinking on that level was often concealed at home where I could be alone. And that’s an awful way to become. Then when I did start heading back out to bars once again I’d wind up having problems with people over social matters, which were the sort of issues that drove me to staying home more and more in the first place. My behavior and attitudes became increasingly volatile as a drinker. I was severely unhappy — depressed really. Frustrated with myself but at the time feeling too weak to make real and lasting changes for the better. Dreamt of changing all the time, but struggled to do so and keep with it. So there was a lot of yo-yoing occurring within the last couple of years. And I guess that time period was in itself a slow-motion bottoming out. Actually I know it was and knew it at the time too. But I kept thinking I wasn’t on total rock bottom yet…not that I wanted to land there, but there’s some stupid little measure of comfort in believing you’re not there yet.

Humiliated myself many times. Numerous bad nights pepper my memories over the last couple of years (and before). Nights when I’m lucky to have made it home in one piece and not harmed anybody else in the process. Nights where portions of the evening are completely erased, blacked out, only known through what others later told me. Bad thoughts and bad decisions had me in a tailspin for a long time there, culminating in those last two years of suffering because I knew the jig was up but yet couldn’t seem to lay it all down and walk away. That was a very frustrating time in life, to say the least.

And then something happened inside that allowed me to say I’d had enough. Don’t believe it was any one event, just a broad collection of them that finally broke the camel’s back. And I got really angry, at myself and the others surrounding me and the lifestyle overall. Had been angry about it many times before, though, so I still wonder why this time something stuck and I was able to walk away. Didn’t feel like the change was completely due to my own will power alone considering how much that had failed me in years prior. Hard to say why the shift occurred so abruptly and how I’ve been able to stick with it this time around. Too much water under the bridge? Too many bad memories generated? Too much money wasted to where I was facing dire straits soon enough? Too many embarrassing episodes spanning back longer than I care to look? All of the above and then some.

But that had been my lifestyle all throughout my adulthood and it was my norm. Though, some part of me inside was never content with it, always critical about it. Maybe it was that inner voice that finally took over the helm when I was weak enough to allow it to do so, and through doing so I’ve gained a measure of strength and determination that I didn’t know I had. It’s kind of queer to think about really, how it’s unfolded and where my mind has been and how something inside became so damn enraged that it simply refused to live like that anymore and therefore took over operations. So, in truth, I did save myself, or at least a part of me saved the rest of me. And that’s a strange thought since so much of me had fallen down and I figured might not ever get back up and stay up. Most of the people I surrounded myself with on a day-to-day basis were heavy drinkers themselves who saw no problem in our lifestyle choice, taking every opportunity they could to defend it. Sometimes I’d debate with them over what we were doing, hypocritical as that always felt (in a bar setting, no less). But in the end, none of them or any of their empty excuses mattered one iota, and I was able to walk away.

Does it have to do with one’s personality? Has my stubbornness saved me once again? Or my fear of complete and abysmal failure? Or worries over becoming a devastatingly negative force for change in the lives of some innocent people who happened to cross my path at the wrong time? Or concern over potential destroyed and wasted? Or humiliation over the (repeated) results of the toxic mix of alcohol and emotional volatility that undeniably damaged my character? All of the above, I assume. But it still seems so strange to me that someone can be that entrenched in a way of life and that deeply steeped among others of like mind and still break free. But I did. Still coming to terms with that and am so grateful for my internal levee to finally give way, generating enough force to propel me out and away from that addictive trap.

Celebrating one mother’s life

That video really impacted me today. It’s from a new channel I just discovered this morning called Ghetto News Network, and it’s of the creator’s mom’s birthday celebration in light of discovering she has cancer. She really sounds like a nice lady, like she helped a lot of people. They look like a bonded family, and thank goodness for that. Can’t ask for much more than that in this life.

Makes me want to call my own Grandma.

We need these positive connections and lasting bonds in order to weather the storms. We need each other, undeniably. No human is capable of living as an island, and it’s amazing the transformative power of good people willing to help us, especially early in life. That’s a true blessing that we’re very lucky to have ever experienced. Strikes me as quite cruel when people are neglected and denied powerful connections and guidance, but the responsibility ultimately lies with us as people. Pain likes to pay forward, but so does charity and good will. It’s very easy to feel alienated in this day and age, to feel lost and unbound. These connections are what make life rich and meaningful, and it’s a real travesty for one to never know what that’s like. Very, very sad when that’s the case and guaranteed to create more problems.

I worry sometimes that the self-sacrificing people who’ve come before and touched our lives might be going extinct. That’s a powerfully disturbing thought, I know. I worry if their spirit might be fostered in future generations and carried forth or if it will wind up relinquished due to us not sufficiently recognizing its importance. That honestly scares me all the way down to the core, pondering what kind of world we’d be living in without their impact and support. My prayer for us today is to try to hold on to what matters most, to be careful about discarding old ways of being before thoroughly understanding their relevance and desirability. Because life can be very long and hard in the absence of a flame of compassion and loving service toward one another. And I stand as a hypocrite in saying that, acknowledging how I segregate off into my own little apartment and more often than not don’t reach out to offer help or consolation to others when I am able.

There are so many lessons to reckon with in this life. So many questions and dilemmas. But, hard as it is to say goodbye to those we love dearly, we truly are blessed to have ever known them, and hopefully we’ll learn from them and pick better paths ourselves. Hopefully.

My heart goes out to that family. May that man’s mother not suffer too much with her illness. This will be a very trying time for all of them, I don’t doubt it, but I appreciate them sharing a glimpse into their lives and what they’re contending with. There are no words to mollify the grief of losing a loving parent figure or reckoning with that inevitability. All we can do is keep them in our hearts and minds and try to do better ourselves. To try not to lose these lessons gleaned.

“Jordan Peterson: Why Globalism Fails and Nationalism is Relatable”

THIS!:

Precisely! This is exactly along the lines of what I’ve been pondering in my own unsophisticated way.

Jordan Peterson – “Developing Your Inner Psychopath”

Alice Cooper quit alcohol too

Didn’t know much about the man other than enjoying a few of his songs (a couple of which were showcased in the “Dazed and Confused” and “Wayne’s World” movie soundtracks in the ’90s).

Alice Cooper’s real name is Vincent Damon Furnier (for those of us who didn’t know). Currently age 69. And he’s been off alcohol since the ’80s.

Reportedly considers himself to be a born-again Christian. Interesting. An excerpt from that linked article (published Tuesday, 28 March 2006):

Though some have questioned combining his faith in God with his rock-and-roll background, Cooper doesn’t see a conflict. “I’m the first one to rock as loud as I can, but when it comes to what I believe, I’m the first one to defend it too,” he said. “It has also gotten me in trouble with the staunch Christians who believe that in order to be a Christian you have to be on your knees 24 hours a day in a closet somewhere. Hey, maybe some people can live like that, but I don’t think that’s the way God expected us to live. When Christ came back, He hung out with the whores, the drunks and miscreants because they were people that needed Him. Christ never spent His time with the Pharisees.”

[…]

“I used to celebrate moral decay, the decadence of it,” he admitted in the KNAC.com interview. “I can look back on what I did then and what I’m doing now and they’re two different things. But at the time I was the poster boy for moral decay, you know. So yeah, I’ve got a lot to be forgiven for…out of ignorance, I thought I was doing the right thing. I was totally in agreement that every guy should sleep with every girl and drink as much as they can. I don’t believe that now. I don’t believe in it, because I see how destructive it is.”

Spiritual awakening is happening around the world, Cooper believes. “It’s obvious humanity is craving for answers directly born of awareness,” he said. “That’s the healthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time because there is something better and everybody’s gotta find it in their own way. People aren’t feeling fulfilled by how many cars they own or the size of their stock portfolio. Even the addicts are saying, ‘It doesn’t matter how many drugs I take, I’m not fulfilled. This isn’t satisfying.’ There’s a spiritual hunger going on. Everybody feels it. If you don’t feel it now, you will. Trust me. You will.”

Worth reading in full.

Far less interesting, though, is he’s now into golf.  But to each their own…

Learn something new everyday. Finding out more about this man has given me greater appreciation for him.

But I never forget his cameo appearance in the movie “Wayne’s World”:

Hehe   bow   cool

Journaling in the wee hours of the 4th of July (plus book review)

In a bit of a melancholy mood this evening. I don’t like to hear myself bitch any more than others care to listen to me bitch. But it’s fucking difficult to bottle up my emotions and to pretend they don’t exist, especially when I feel disrespected. And that’s probably a problem I have to sort out for myself since life isn’t fair and it’s never going to be. Just is what it is. Not going to go into any of that on here tonight.

Been a weird week overall. Weirdos abounding. Arguments reigniting. That car crash from last week and its aftermath. Another holiday approaching, which gets people all antsy. And here it is — the 4th of July. Independence Day. A day for Americans to wave around flags and watch parades and scarf down hotdogs and beer while reminding one another how we’re the best country on Earth, bar none. Patting ourselves on the back for what our forefathers bestowed upon us, as if we’ve proven to be good stewards of these historic blessings.

Bah! This holiday makes a scrooge out of me.

I tire of so much propaganda and the guilt-inducing patriotism. Gotta love everything about this country, right or wrong, or else GTFO. So they like to say. How kind we are to our fellow natives.

The_Bluest_Eye_Toni_MorrisonAnother thing that’s bothered me this week is I read Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye. Pretty darn depressing read, though I figured on that before ordering it. Wanted to find out what this supposedly amazing author had to say that’s made her such a literary icon within the black community (as well as favored and applauded by Oprah Winfrey herself). Started out by watching an interview of Toni Morrison on youtube (was it from a Charlie Rose episode? I can’t recall). She came across as pretty darn racist. So decided to order a couple of her books (used through half.com) to find out what all the hubbub is about. Read an essay by her on the writing craft, then moved on to the book The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, this version including an afterword by her published in the 1990s.

What can I say about this book? It was well-written, I’ll give it that. Compelling enough to keep me wanting to read on. Wrapped up in the end as though its completion was being hurried, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. In her afterword section, Toni Morrison wrote on how she wasn’t terribly pleased with the book. But what got me is how she bent everything back toward race and racism. All throughout the book she described black characters who mistreated one another in awful ways, ending in a father raping and impregnating his young teenage daughter and then her mother beating her so badly that the girl went full-on crazy from thereon. The author described black parents who ordered their children around as if they had no thoughts or feelings of their own, who screamed and griped and carried on, particularly after another black man in the story was found out to be trying to molest another young black teen girl. The white people mentioned in the book were treated with scornful envy or reduced to being nasty idiots in need of black folks to care for them and their homes in order not to live in squalor. Aside from the two white rednecks who disrespected the young Cholly (the one who grew up to become the alcoholic who raped his own daughter) as he was attempting to lose his virginity the night of his aunt’s funeral — those two white guys were depicted as being part of the cause for why Cholly came out the way he did. That along with his father’s rejection after traveling to find him after Cholly’s aunt (and primary caretaker) had died. As well as having been tossed on a garbage heap by his mother when he was little more than a week old.

What gets to me about this story is that it showcases degradation within the black community, and Toni Morrison keenly portrayed it in all of its reckless degeneracy. And yet, still, somehow she found the problem to ultimately point back to white society as a whole. Not the choices of the black people written about. Not their poor parenting skills and heavy-handedness without first finding out the facts involved when it came to discipline. Not parents having sex in the same room as their kids, not to mention fighting and beating on one another. Not the drinking taken to the point that lust overcame all decency and familial bonds. White people had nothing to do with why Cholly hated women. Not even those rednecks who humiliated him deserved that honor. Yet Toni Morrison seemed to lay a good bit of the blame at their feet, claiming that Cholly redirected the animosity he felt at white people toward his own people, particularly black women and girls, as if that simply makes sense all unto itself. The mother who abandoned him was rather casually dismissed as assumed to have gone crazy. The aunt who chose to raise and care for him was spoken down about, as if her help had barely mattered at all. This was made clear when Toni Morrison claimed that the character named Cholly Breedlove had had no parenting skills to observe while coming up since he hadn’t been raised by his own parents. So what was his aunt? A nobody? Should she have simply left him to die on that garbage heap as a baby? Seems she received no credit for her sacrifices and love shown, or at least only trace amounts. Why? I think it’s because, for whatever reason(s), Toni Morrison didn’t care to flesh out his character in greater depth. She aimed to depict him as a loveless, broken man who’d given up and turned to the bottle, who hated women because he actually hated white people but couldn’t show it as openly, who came to care about nobody at all — yet the cause for all of this is somehow, somewhere, ultimately rooted in white society. These black people in the tale couldn’t love themselves or one another because of their envy toward whites, hence the fixation on blue eyes.

In the story, the white people mentioned all appeared to have money, whereas the blacks mostly didn’t. As if that’s the realistic split historically — yes-sirree, all white folks from time immemorial were blessed with money while black folks were not. Yep, that’s totally realistic. Right?  BS. But that’s how she wanted to frame her tale, creating a big divide between what she saw as the Haves and the Have-nots. Typical.

The book’s content was disturbing all unto itself without the added doses of racism toward white folks. Was going to loan it to a guyfriend, but after finishing it and telling him about it he stated he was afraid it might damage his spirit. And I agreed. Not loaning this book out to my friends. Not much good will come from doing so. Black folks who read it may very well accept Toni Morrison’s race-baiting antics without further scrutinizing all the black characters involved, and that’d be a shame. I found it to be more of an indictment of the black community itself rather than anybody else outside of it. Just a showcase of one scoundrel after another, some worse than others, but mostly scoundrels either way. The characters who might’ve proven to be fairly decent were mentioned in only a line or two and then left out of the rest of the story. The spotlight here was shined on these three black girls (Pecola, Claudia and Frieda), and it seemed nearly every adult around them wasn’t worth much of a damn. Hardly in any way conducive toward bringing up healthy, intelligent, competent and confident children. And I struggle to understand how that must be the outside world’s fault when so much control does and always has belonged to parents and families. Poverty alone can’t make people beat and rape their children. Hell, poverty is less likely to occur if one doesn’t drink and/or gamble away most of the money brought into the household!

Just kinda sickened me to read Toni Morrison’s afterword on the subject. Personal responsibility appears to mean to little to her since she’s caught up in this victim narrative and can see little else. Or at least that’s how her words came across to me. She stated this story wasn’t based on her own life but rather is a fictional account of an impoverished black girl (Pecola) who was taken advantage of by everybody, leading to the other two black girls (sisters Claudia and Frieda) who had befriended her to feel embarrassment and shame later in life when reflecting on how they couldn’t help her. But what was their primary concern expressed in the beginning and end of the book? That Pecola’s baby, conceived through rape from her father, had not lived. And that right there did me in. Makes me shake my head and wonder what planet we’re living on when that’s the primary concern here.

When I ordered that book I also ordered Toni Morrison’s Songs of Solomon. Hmm. Will wait a while before cracking that one open.

“Biblical Series II: Genesis 1: Chaos & Order”

Today listening to part 2 of Jordan Peterson’s series on the Bible:

I appreciate his attempt to bring biblical stories back into relevance by examining them through a modern psychological lens. Very interesting stuff.

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.