Alcohol is a solution

Alcohol is a solution

My last post was a little cryptic. It was one of my more poetic posts. I was playing with language because I was trying to make sense of things which don’t make sense. When I started I was trying to make sense of big issues like war, poverty, racism and sexual assault. By the time I finished it several days later I was thinking about my own life. Specifically I was thinking about the role alcohol plays in my life.

I’m what is commonly referred to as an alcoholic. I tend to reject labels but as they say, “if the shoe fits…”. The label alcoholic is one that I identify with strongly, I accept it, I embrace and I will even take pride in it. Society tends to look down on alcoholics and attempts to instill shame. Shame is a destructive force and so I reject it. Alcoholics are not defective people, they are just people. Sure they do some fucked up things sometimes but everybody who does anything will fuck up from time to time. Bigger things can mean bigger fuck ups. Combine that with social stigma and ostracization and you’ve got a mess. I happen to find most alcoholics to be pretty freaking amazing people.

For me, alcohol is not a problem. Alcohol is a solution. It may be an imperfect solution but there are no perfect solutions. On the whole, alcohol has served me pretty well. Alcohol has been there for me when all else has failed. Alcohol is like a best friend… only more consistent, and more predictable. Alcohol has been my mentor, teaching me countless life lessons. Alcohol has held my hand as I’ve attempted things I never thought I could. Alcohol has taught me courage. Alcohol has taught me to speak my mind. Alcohol has taught me vulnerability. Alcohol has taught me how to ask for help. Alcohol has taught taught me the power of forgiveness. No matter what I am feeling, regardless of my state of mind, alcohol can put me in touch with my true self or give me an attitude adjustment when needed. Alcohol has been with me for virtually every major life event. Alcohol has introduced me to the vast majority of my lovers, partners and friends. Alcohol has got me through every brake-up and has even helped me end unhealthy relationships when nothing else could. Alcohol has been my medication for chronic illness. Alcohol has been my motivation to keep going. Alcohol has been my reward for a job well done. Alcohol has fueled most of this blog. Alcohol has literally saved my life.

Yeah, alcohol is pretty amazing stuff!

As I look at my life and all I’ve accomplished I realize that I owe alcohol a deep debt of gratitude. Alcohol has worked for me and it has got me to this point. I just have this aching feeling like there has to be more to life. Maybe I’m wrong but I know that I’ll never find out as long as alcohol is in the picture; keeping life exciting and making everything okay when life gets too much.  In order to see what is around that bend, I’m going to have to break up with alcohol. I’m going to have to become a sober alcoholic.

Yeah, right! Like that ever happens. Sounds like a flightless bird to me. 

Well, as it turns out there are a lot of sober alcoholics. They even gather in groups multiple times a day, every day of the week. I’ve been going to these gatherings and what I’ve discovered is that like the ostridge, these people are pretty freaking amazing. Them do seem to be rather down on my beloved alcohol however; blaming it for the problems in their life rather than celebrating it for their accomplishments. Still, despite our differences we seem to have a lot in common. As I listen to their stories it sounds like my life. We may not share the same perspective but the experiences are pretty similar. When sitting with these sober alcoholics I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. I can’t help but thank alcohol for helping me find this place. I think my new friends feel the same way because when I said, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for alcohol”, they all nodded in agreement.

I heard a speaker the other night say that the Alcoholics Anonymous steps and program are not something to believe in, it’s not something you learn from, it’s something you do. I think what he was saying was that the beliefs and knowledge come from the doing, not from the steps themselves. I’m not going to AA because I believe in it, I’m not going to learn how to be a better alcoholic, I’m going because I need something to do. Alcohol has been my thing to do and it has works to this point. The one thing I want now is the one thing it can’t get me. I want sobriety and alcohol will no longer get me there. I’m sure that there are other ways but Alcoholics Anonymous has a proven track record of helping alcoholics find sobriety. As they say, “It works if you work it.”

Advertisements

Why relationships fail

I just spent the weekend with someone that I have been friends with for nearly 30 years so I feel like I know a thing or two about how to make relationships last… but I don’t. I do however know a thing or two about how to make relationships fail. I’m been sitting on this knowledge for a while because I’ve been thinking, “Who the fuck am I to be giving relationship advice?”

I really thought it would be a great post. I even had a great title, “The Three C’s of Relationship Failure”. But then, today, I learned of another C and decided I might as well put this out there now before I get any smarter and it becomes too much to write about. Relationships are way too complicated to put in a blog post anyway. By the way, complicated is not one of the C’s that I had thought of.  To me that is not an issue, that should just be a given if you plan on getting into a relationship.

So here are my three C’s: Communication, Compatibility and Control.

I’m going to take on Compatibility first because it’s the easiest. Some people are just not meant to be together. You want different things, you believe different things, you want to do different things; maybe you want to be with different people. That’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that either of you are bad people. It just may mean that you don’t want to be with each other… at least not in that way. So don’t. If you do work in another way then do that. Not everybody can be everything to everybody but everyone has something to give.

I know that there are many relationships that survive between people who never talk but they are probable between people that never should have been together in the first place. Sorry, some relationships suck even if they stay together. Communication is key to any relationship and communication is not easy. Read my post Lost In Translation. I think that more relationships end because of problems with communication than anything else. I’m sure that there are other problems but the problems wouldn’t seem so big if we could just understand each other. People just want to be heard, to be seen, to matter and if there is bad communication, that is not happening.

The other one is Control and this one is big. We have control over ourselves but when we try to control others, problems are guaranteed to happen. Believe me, I get it. Shit is out of control and so the natural response is to try and control it. It just doesn’t actually make things better. Well, it may make things better for you, but this is a relationship which means it’s not all about you! You can’t MAKE a relationship work. You need to step back and LET a relationship work. I’m sorry if that’s a little Zen for you but it’s true. There are a lot of things that you can make work but a relationship is not one of them.

Okay, and then today I learned about another reason and it really makes sense to me. I call this one Competition. I know that historically relationships have been held between people of unequal status with defined roles. I think that is a totally fucked up concept but it doesn’t matter what I think; that shit just doesn’t fly these days. But competition can still occur in a relationship between equals especially if you are in the same field. In the example that I heard today they were both competing to be the best parent. Yeah, I can totally see that a being a problem. Seriously people, if you both are trying to do your best to care for a child that should be a good thing. Don’t let competition screw it up!

As I’ve been thinking about this subject I’ve come to the realization that there is another issue that is probably bigger than all the others combined. We all mess up in these areas. None of use are perfectly compatible with each other. We all struggle at communication and we all have control issues. It is in our nature to be competitive. If we want to make it work we need to learn to accept our faults and the faults of our partner. I’m not saying that every couple should just suck it up and deal but if you have found someone that you really love… then work on it.

If you have compatibility issues then work on them.

If you have communication issues them work on them.

If you have control issues then work on them.

If you have competition issues then work on them.

Love is worth it!

5 Secrets for a Happy Life

There seems to be a lot of interest in happiness these days. Back when I was growing up no one seemed to worry about such trivial things. We were all concerned with was “how to get rich”, “how to get power” and “how to be successful” so I’m glad to see people focusing on happiness. As a generally happy person who deals with major depression and seasonal affective disorder I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to be happy. Here are a few secrets I have uncovered:

 

Secret #1: There is no such thing as a happy life. There are happy moments, happy occasions, happy feelings, but taken as a whole, life is not exactly happy. If you are paying attention at all you may have noticed that life kind of sucks. Ignorance may be bliss but I’m afraid I can’t teach you that. If you want to have a life you are just going to have to accept that it’s not always going to be happy. Life is full of ups and downs so learn to deal with it or quit.

Secret #2: Oh good, I’m glad you didn’t decide to quit just yet because this next secret is really important. If you’re not happy it’s your own damn fault. Whatever you are doing is not working. You are fucking up. I’ve seen you do it. I’ve seen you do it over and over again. You keep doing the same stupid shit thinking that it is going to make you happy and it’s never going to work. Stop doing it!

Secret #3: Wow, I really thought that I would have lost you by now. You must be a glutton for punishment. Well, let me let you in on a little secret. You deserve better. You deserve to be happy. You have gotten a raw deal and it’s not fair. You have every reason to bitch and complain. Throw yourself a pity party. Send me an invitation. I will show up with bells on. Just know that like any party, eventually it has to come to an end, and you’re probably going to have a mess to clean up.

Secret #4: The pity party is not going to make you happy. In fact, nothing is going to make much difference. No matter what you do or what happens in your life you will probably always be the same miserable or happy-go-lucky person that you have always been. Sure, if you win a cruise or fall in love you may be happier for a little while but before long the thrill will be gone and you will be back to your old self. Likewise, if you lose your job or get in a car accident you may have some pretty shitty days but you will adjust and carry on pretty much unfazed. Some people are just naturally happier than others and there is not much you can do about it.

Secret #5: Are you still reading this? That takes a lot of tenacity. After all that bad news you are still seeking happiness. We let me tell you, you already have everything you need to be happy. Whoever you are, whatever you are dealing with you can turn that into a strength. Whatever life hands you, it is part of life, view it as a gift. If you are dissatisfied with life, use that to drive you for something better. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others and it makes you miserable, find different people to compare yourself to. There are plenty of people doing worse. The point is, whatever you are doing has got you this far. It is working and with a few minor changes, it can only get better. You already know what makes you happy – do more of that. You know what makes you unhappy – do less of that. And while you’re at it, do what you can to make the people around you happier. I do believe that there is something to the theory that happy people surround themselves with happy people. We may not be able to control who is in our life but we can make choices about how we treat them. Treat them in ways that build happiness. It may not create a “happy life” but it will create more happy moments, happy occasions and happy feelings.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are in crisis, seek help. If you are experiencing prolonged depression or sporadic mood changes that put your life or the health of others at risk, seek medical attention. My advice is meant to be along the lines of, “dude, do you really need that third bacon cheeseburger?” If you are having a heart attack, call 911! We’ll deal with your diet later.

Fear and loathing in Minneapolis

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

For most of my life I have subscribed to the philosophy put forth here by John Lennon; and for the most part I still do. There is a lot of wisdom in those words. I just can no longer treat love and fear as two sides of the same coin; two competing forces vying for our response. I can no longer view love simply as something that is good and fear as something that is bad. It’s not that black and white. Nothing is black and white. There are no absolutes, there is no certainty, there is no escape from fear. Am I absolutely certain of that? Well no, and hence I stand convinced of my doubt.

Writing this blog has been a life goal of mine for at past two years. For two years I have failed at taking that first step. For two years I have procrastinated.  For two years I have made excuses: I don’t know what I want it to be about, I don’t know what to call it, I don’t know how to set up a blog, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I need a better computer and countless other arguments in my head that kept me stuck in my thoughts. For two years I have felt paralyzed, unable to take the next step in my life, because of the weight of a dream.

But that’s bullshit. I haven’t just been sitting around doing nothing. I’ve been living my life. I’ve been growing, changing, struggling and preparing myself for this day. The truth is that this blog came into existence on the absolutely first day it possible could. The truth is that getting to this day has not been a two year process. The truth is that it has been a 46 year process. Everything that has occurred in my life has been leading up to this very moment. That’s a pretty overwhelming though,t but it’s true, not just for this moment, but every moment. The present moment always arrives right on time. You can never be late for now.

So what possessed me to write a blog at all? What is the motivating factor behind this endeavour? Am I being driven by either love or fear? I would love to tell you that this is a labor of love. I would love to tell you that being a writer has been my life passion. I would love to tell you that I possess some great wisdom that needs to be shared with the world. I would love to tell you that I am so fabulous of a person everyone needs to know who I am. I would love to tell you that everything I do is motivated by love. I would love to tell you all that… but none of it would be true.

The fact is, this blog is a product of fear. To be precise, my fear of death. Well, not of literally of dying, I’ve already experienced that and I’m not really afraid of death. What I am afraid of is not living. If I’m not growing, expanding, taking risks and moving forward… well, that feels like death to me. I’ve been reading a number of blogs lately and it seems like a lot of them are born out of a period of tremendous life change: divorce, loss of a job, loss of a child, major medical diagnosis, physical injury, spiritual awakening or coming out process.

For me, it’s because I don’t know what the fuck else to do. I’ve been through my share of hell and along the way I have developed a lot of tools. I have a tremendous skill set and support system to cope with what life has thrown at me.  Still, it has only gotten me this far. I have worked through all of the issues I am aware of, I have made all the changes to my life I can and accepted those things about me which I cannot change, yet still, my life sucks. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. It’s time to forge into unknown territory or just give up. It’s time to face my fear… or die. I know, sounds pretty dramatic, but that’s how it feels to me.

I don’t think that it is an irrational fear, however. I think what I am setting out to do is pretty fucking scary.  I intend to share every aspect of myself with the entire world. I intend to share every thought, every hope, every dream, every fear, every strength, every weakness, every doubt, every secret, every opinion and every activity whether successful or utter failure with anyone who chooses to read it. Granted, I know that is impossible and there is no way I could actually share every aspect of myself so I guess in that respect the fear is irrational. But fear is fear, it doesn’t really give a shit about rationality or logic. It just is.

Regardless, I’m exposing myself, making myself vulnerable to the world; a world which can be cruel,  a world which has judged me… a world that includes my mother. So you may ask, why I would want to do this, and the answer is because it is all I have to give. For reasons I am still trying to figure out I have always wanted to be the best at something. I guess I figured if there was someone better at a particular task than I am then they should do it and I would find something else to do. Well the only thing that I have found that I do better than anyone else is BEING ME. So that is what I am going to do. That is my gift to the world. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended is you exchange it for a different size. I’ve never claimed to be one-size-fits-all.

I’m not fearless and I have not overcome my fear. What I have done is learn to love it. I embrace it. It has purpose and it deserves respect. As I have been writing my daily entries for the past two weeks I have realized that I am still experiencing fear. I am practicing cation as I am writing; not cation for my own safety so much as cation for those with whom I interact. I accept that this is part of the process and I trust that in time I will find a way to find peace with it.

It seems fitting, at this point,  that I should share my number one fear with you. My number one fear is hurting someone I love, and I love everyone. My second biggest fear is not living with honesty and integrity.  I imagine that balancing these two fears will define my life struggle.

%d bloggers like this: