Joyless, “A Fire in the Heart”

Sunday, Jan 25, 2015

Sunday morning: This week has been odd. The absence of my grandmother means I don’t have to go to church today and that means I didn’t have to go to bed early or get up before the sun. Despite that, to attempt to curb some of my media-use in that after work period, I had this nice plan to come home, eat a sandwich, watch a movie, and go to bed before I could do anything too disastrous. “This could turn into my every night plan!” I hoped.

Outside of the mindless jabber of coworkers (and me!) and the disheartening revelation that incompetence-in-charge would remain at-large, the workday was pretty normal. I almost didn’t even have the urge to buy a pint and the cigarette cravings dwindle in lieu of something to do. Even though I didn’t think of a pint, my thoughts did return to my hidden cache of low-proof samples at home. It’s pretty easy to guess what happens next.

The “good” news is that I only had four ounce-sized bottles left (probably equal to a glass of fortified wine). I didn’t know this at work, but thinking that I had a stash to come home to made it pretty easy to forget buying the pint; the busy night made it pretty easy to forget my inspiring “dumpster speech” from the afternoon. I’d like to believe that if I thought about my dumpster friend just once, or even mentioned it out loud or something, I would have never thought about drinking at all.

So some parts of my plan went ahead… the addict-parts. I even have to admit to having the idea that I should throw the sample bottles away, getting them out of the house and finally having a house void of alcohol. I didn’t throw them away. I drank them.

And not all the same time, too; there was still time in-between to throw away the rest. That’s why the “good” news that I only had four. I got home, I drank the two closest-related shots (by flavor), and I started the movie. Later, I drank the other two, ate my sandwich, and finished the movie. My plan said to go to bed here. I didn’t.

Thankfully, it’s cold outside; if it wouldn’t have been so much trouble to bundle up and trundle out to the store, I might’ve made it to the store for cigarettes. After I drank the last shot and watched the end of the movie, I moved my relaxed butt to a prone position on the couch, turned on whatever television and ate all the remaining sweet or salty snack treats.

There wasn’t much left. I haven’t bought any more (tough to do) and in this trying time of change, I’m also trying to get rid of the habit of eating crap like that, so I haven’t eaten as much as I would normally. I supposed I can call last night a calculated relapse where I reverted back to as many habits as I could. A strong argument for not having any crap like that in the house in the first place. The same already being true for alcohol and the rest and I know this!

The movie, Secondhand Lions, wasn’t particularly uplifting. I liked it; there were some funny moments but as I was in the grip of a low-proof alcoholic haze, it didn’t resonate anywhere. There was no connection made; my internal workings were overridden by disappointment at my faltering and I was unable to enjoy, or really (today) remember the film at all. I feel terrible for this, let alone the excessively full belly from ridding the house of junky remnants. I do remember that the last thing I ate was a giant bowl of cereal, so now there’s no milk in the house and it is snowing outside.

A proud showing of survival, to be sure…

I slept on the couch, the television making noise the whole while. Somehow, I managed to clean up after myself, I noted this in the morning. I moved from the couch to the bed at 5:04am and tossed and turned until 8:43am; headache, bellyache all the way.

All told, not a great night. I don’t need that kind of weakness right now; tomorrow my weekend begins – the biggest problem period of them all. It will be doubly worse this weekend; my grandmother returns home in the morning so I’ll have to resume social duties as well as having a huge source of distraction, frustration, and easy excuses to continue my ruinous behavior.

I’m not so worried about the day ahead at work. Sundays have proven to be busy enough that I don’t have as much downtime to think about smoking; there will be a period, even if only twenty minutes, that I will have to resist the urge to buy cigarettes. That’s the least of my problems, really. I’m going to have to do something to forge ahead positively this weekend versus the complete and utter failure that last weekend was.

Well, there were successes. That’s what I should focus on. Or better yet, get back into the habit of flexing the creative muscle. Or reading! What is this mental block I have against reading? Maybe I’ve eaten the part of my brain away that remembers reading.

There has to be some brain damage, maybe a great deal. I’ll never know, but that does hearken back to my autopsy-worry. I don’t know why I like having this thought so much, or why it just cycles around every morning; I’ll make the case that my body is releasing stress hormones when I worry about it, desperately stimulating the brain in some “natural” way since the outside stimulants have been dwindling.

I have noticed this. My brain is desperate. That is not to say that my mind and sober Self are winning the fight. In its scale, that battle has yet to be fought! But, my brain knows that change is happening; because it really is!

I can recall the last few months of booze-abuse and I can note that my brain has now developed the ability to gulp down the liquor as opposed to the gentlemanly sips I used to take. Now, I know about tolerance, but I would think that this is something else. I can use this thought as a tool, too, if I think it can strengthen me. It should, by God!

Either way, in these months passed, I’ve noticed I greedily gulp down the stuff like an animal unsure of its next meal. When I was just an alcoholic indulging on the whim, there was no need to rush to make sure I drank it all. Now that I can reflect on this, the escalating behavior scares me!

But that’s what it is. I’ve crossed so many mental lines with alcohol that there’s no going back. It is in my brain, engraved in my instinctual pathway, still trumping food and water. Sensing my brain’s desperation I can believe that victory over addiction is assured! A worthy foe doesn’t become desperate!

In my play for strength today, the emphasis will be on this. The brain is desperate; victory is assured. The failures, the weakness, these are the tactics of the brain to take me down screaming back into addiction, but they can’t last forever. They will only get worse as I become further removed from addiction and I can’t pretend for even a single second that I’m strong enough.

I’ve proven I can’t trust myself. I’ve proven I can act completely without thinking, so there’s almost no time to have the counter-thought and stop myself. Depending on what I do today and tonight will set my weekend’s course in action.

Hard-wired by the “Bible Belt,” there’s no chance of getting liquor today so that won’t be a factor. Cigarettes, wine, excessive use of caffeine, knowing there’s no work tomorrow… all this can lead to any kind of downfall.

I read somewhere in my youth that a stone can be a teacher. Because that thought crept “randomly” into my mind, that’s the lesson for the day. The stoic stone – unchanging, impervious to outside influences (yeah, not really truly true, but can be for the sake of example), this is the attribute to emulate. Arms-crossed, scowling, knitted-brow; “no, I don’t want anything; what is there to want?” If nothing can be good enough, then nothing is what I shall have!

Occasionally, I have the self-aware moment that treating my alcoholism and addiction to cigarettes, at least acknowledging my overeating, caffeine-use, media-use, stimulant-use, and so on is still just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many greater monsters still lurking to be dealt with! In due time, though; due time.

This searing thought follows that one – all the addictions I ignore or continue to pursue (writing on the computer, included) do contribute to every one of the times I have stumbled. They are the greater addictions; shadows in the logbook because it is too hard to admit to them, since I know that means they have to change. They provide an underlining source of constant weakness since the indulgence is there.

And their day is coming. I may not be strong enough to tackle those things now; I’m working up to it. Fear and pain and fear of pain are all factors in it; some sort of mental preparation has to begin first; it’s not going to be pretty. The process has already started – my form is returning to that of a man rather than that of some hulking beast solely bent on base, instinctual pursuits.

It’ll be a little while before I can stand up and use tools again, but my mind is strong.

That’s what I need type out tomorrow. Revel in a bit of arrogance and try to explain to my Self how my mind is going to triumph here. Whatever works, right? That’s not a very good motto; it already leads itself to disorganization. Well, there’s another thing I can work on, making sense out of nonsense! (With a cooler catch-phrase.)


Justin Lehman

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