Back From the Shroud Again

Jesus, it’s been a year. I’ve wanted to continue this blog, but like everyone else who drops out of writing I thought I had better stuff to do. In my case, sometimes this was true. Right now I’m clean and sober. Nine months so. Tonight before I go to bed I’m going to pray to a thing I don’t understand and thank it for my sobriety today. Tomorrow morning I’ll say another prayer asking that thing to give strength (Courage? Wisdom? Guidance?) to those I care about and, more importantly, those I dislike.

Here’s a few things about me. I’m not suicidal anymore. My mood is more stable. My foundation, the thing that lets me feel like I have a right to exist has started to root firmly. I’m okay. More than anything I am and I am becoming okay. I guess, and the cynic in me is embarrassed (yet fucking delighted) to admit I’ve found faith, or at least some kind of faith.

I can’t go into all of it now, but if this is at all helpful or interesting or I just feel like writing about it I’ll give you the gross pieces of the journey, every step  of the way (nearly hit by car, crying on the phone, desperate and sullen eyed in a yellowed church basement surrounded by lumps of people as desperate (I thought) as I was, Styrofoam cookies and luke coffee, seat neighbors hemorrhaging phlegm, the days upon weeks of wanting a drink, the thousands of soda’s to curb the desire, and more than anything the fear).

Honestly, right now I don’t know how this all fits together, alcoholism, depression, suicide, desperation, pining for community, finally finding it. But right now, today, it does.

A little while okay I was preparing for the biggest test in grad school (my comprehensive examinations). I’d have a few hours to write 15+ pages in response to three lists of books I was supposed to have read (and in a few instances did read) and I was sitting in my office, staring at the ceiling, unable to move because my body would itch with the kind of hateful anxiety only procrastination can produce and I was trying not to image how I’d fail and drop out and get a shit job as a shit cleaner cleaning up shit at shit houses and everything was shit and if only I had a drink to take the edge off then I’d probably start studying and maybe I’d meet some girls at the bar[1] and I’d feel that glowing feeling in my stomach again and God damnit was I lucky to realize my thoughts spiraling out of control and so I called my sponsor.

He asked me “How’s your relationship with your Higher Power”

And in my head I said, “God fucking fuck” as in that moment I didn’t want to think about anything outside myself and in some ways was not capable of attending to anything but these obsessions  and so then I said to him “Well how’s your, um, what do you do, when uh—“
And he followed with this, “Listen man, do you trust that even if you fail these exams you’ll be okay?”

And I said to myself “Fuck.” And I said to him “Fuck.” I told him “No, I guess I haven’t I mean, but Jesus, okay I think I might—“

“Say it right now, ‘even if I fail these exams I trust I will be okay. I trust I will be okay”
So I did. And something changed. I’d never tried trusting the future. I was too scared to. The future isn’t a sure bet and if you ain’t taking a sure bet you’re a chump. Of course I was at my wits end every other Friday night. It was probably time I bet on something new. Finally time I wagered something. So I did. And I still am. And something is different.

I can walk across campus or the grocery store or most places without emotionally assuming everyone is eviscerating me with their x-ray vision of my soul. And it’s not that I’m hidden and safe from others, it’s more that I trust that were I to meet any one of them, by and large I could relate to thing about something, there is some community still between us all. If I can do it with the guy coughing up phlegm and talking about government satellites in the seat next to me when I’m in the rooms I can probably do it with a lot others.

And that’s what a kind of faith looks like. A kind of God even. It is both a thought and a feeling, a feeling that opens up possibility, the possibility of being hurt, but also discovering something new, new people, instead of cowering in my own desires.

You see, I think the Program (AA) has shown that my imaginative faculties were serving the wrong master and I simply was not aware of it, nor was I in a place to be aware of it. And I don’t think this trust is a singular thing that can save me, it relies on so much more: my family, my friends, the AA community, meetings, step work, exercise, eating enough, not drinking. Each is one element that leaves me grateful to have this thing that feels like faith. Do I trust I will be okay? Do I trust this will keep me sober? Day by day I can say yes. I can reorient my overactive imagination to serve up hope and trust, words that are tired on the lips but revitalizing in spirit. Do I trust I will be okay? Right now it’s a tentative yes. If nothing goes my way and I step in dog shit and get mugged and kicked out of school and a loved one dies in a car accident do I trust I will be okay? As delusional as it sounds I give another tentative yes. That’s how it needs to be right now and perhaps that’s how it will continue to be.

Do you trust you’ll be okay? No matter what?

[1] So here’s the thing about my mentally obsessed mind space: at pretends to offer me a solution to an emotion and that solution comes in the form of emotional fulfillment. But the fulfillment isn’t a feeling, it’s just perpetual desire pretending to be something else and that something else is an impossible creation. When I image booze and girls, and girls especially, it’s an amalgam of a whole lot of girls I knew and know and images I’ve seen from magazines and movies and porn, all rolled into one soulless Frankenstein’s monster of my own desire. It is a total objectification of women as a way to satiate my insatiable appetite for self-destruction and it is very convincing. Even when this takes the form of a day dream where we get ice cream and talk at length about James Joyce and Jack Kirby it is tailored to fit my every desire. This is not a good relationship if only because it would not challenge me or help me understand others in a vaster and probing human way. It would be the same conundrum the protagonists face at the end of Ex Machina. My mind is great at coming up with impossible objects of desire it wants but can’t really ever love.

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