From Whence I Came

My talent for making the wrong choices is uncanny. My intent was to remove myself for a night or two. Just get out of the present and escape for a bit. I booked a room, and planned on…I’m not really sure what I planned on actually. I brought music, booze, pen, paper, various meds, and I stopped for smokes on the way. I don’t even smoke. I have terrible lungs. I even get a whiff of second-hand smoke and I’m sucking on my inhaler for days. I told myself I was going to clear my head, push through the despair, deal with the shit storm that’s been brewing in my brain lately. That’s what I told myself. In reality, I guess my plan was self destruction. Why else would I have chosen the items I brought with me? Booze and meds? I had 7 years of sobriety. I lived well and I lived fully. I was productive and…normal. What I was really desperate for was an escape from the pain. No quicker way to do that than booze and pills. It’s not the best way, but it is the quickest.

It started out as I expected. The room was quiet and unfamiliar, which is pretty much what I was looking for. I poured a drink, sat on the bed, and stared out the window. Five minutes in and I was already stuck. How do I deal with this, push through it, come out the other side unscathed? Damned if I know. So I poured another drink while I tried to figure it out. I wrote a little, but the words didn’t come easily. I gave up after a while and opted for music instead. The saddest of songs. Another drink. Soon I was feeling the familiar tingle, that sweet buzz that hooked me from the start. It all started to melt away at once. As it did, the tears came. I’d say they were tears of sadness, but there was probably some regret mixed in there as well. And soon it was uncontrollable sobbing. Another drink. Then I really had to escape. I suck as a human being. The best I deserved, I figured, was to go back to my life 10 years ago.  I was in the city, my playground a decade or so ago. A lot has changed, but the darkest, seediest places never change. That’s what I deserved. That darkness. So that’s where I went. I don’t go to clubs too often these days. I sometimes will go to a sports bar with some friends, but those places aren’t triggers for me. The clubs in the city, those are what trigger my addiction. The music is so loud in those places, you can feel it; it pulsates through your veins, and you can feel your heart beat in rhythm with the music. The people are packed in, drunk, high, dancing, stumbling. I let it all wash over me. I got bumped and jostled. Amazingly there were people I knew at the first place I went. I haven’t seen these people since I got sober. They were happy to have me back, they said. 

For all my trouble, this is what I ended up getting: drunk, sick, and a black eye when I walked into the middle of something I shouldn’t have. I remember catching it in the eye and turning, in my drunken bravado, to confront the very large man who’s elbow I’d caught. Next thing I remember is my old “friend” Steve grabbing me by the throat hard to get me out of the way. He was saving me from myself, of course, but a little gentler would’ve worked just as well.

I woke up sometime late the next morning with cuts on my arms and a razor next to me. I hadn’t tried to kill myself (I would have had really bad aim had that been the case since most of the cuts were on my forearms), rather I reverted to a behavior I learned years ago to divert the emotional pain by having it manifest as physical pain. If I’m in physical pain it takes the focus off the emotional pain. Physical pain is easier to deal with. You know there will be an end to it at some point. The same cannot be said for emotional pain. The hopelessness is insidious and is just too much to bear.

I can’t imagine having the strength to crawl out of this black hole that has all but consumed me of late. Yet, I know I have before.

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