One year ago today, and ironically, approximately at this time of the night, I was getting done with a bartending shift in which I was feeling miserable, hating life, irritated with shitty drunks, and pounding shots behind the bar struggling to figure out what would actually make me happy in my life before I was too drunk to care anymore. That was a common theme at that point - I hated everything about me, my life, just functioning generally in day-to-day living. There wasn’t any kind of spark to do anything worthwhile. I was still sick and doing treatment for my health, in which I didn’t give two shits about. I had already gotten into trouble drinking and driving a few months prior. My heart was still broken - I fell hard for someone that took the pain out of my body when she was around and the hate out of my heart when she sent me messages and pictures daily. At that point, I didn’t care about friends, family, acquaintances; being funny and irrational had no point to me anymore. I simply didn’t care about me.
From what little I remember, I was double fisting whiskey shots with full glasses of Jagermeister and Red Bull or just more whiskey with a splash of coke. A couple of the guys and I got stoned to the moon outside in a car smoking some medical grade marijuana thinking “it would balance me out, I could drink more and be fine and want to drive downtown so I could take advantage of the extra hour bars would be open and get so drunk that maybe I’d end up in a strangers bed or the bottom of Lake Mendota. Yeah. Talking to myself more and more it sounded like a great idea; why was I alive? What was I living for? I completely destroyed my job, girlfriend, happiness, and at that point, the only time I didn’t hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, was when I was a half bottle of Irish whiskey closer to not remembering where I was. Killing myself sounded like a rational answer, extremely intoxicated. What doesn’t at that point, though?
The last I remember at the bar was taking four shots of Tullamore Dew in about 5 minutes, grumbling about how I hated everyone and everything about the bar, and that I was ‘going to smoke again.’ Knowing that I wasn’t being watched closely, it was easy to just slip out the front door. I remember sobbing behind the wheel of my car. I told myself, ‘you aren’t drunk enough yet. You can remember what you’re doing. There’s an extra hour of bar time and a myriad of people willing to serve you more alcohol if you just play the game you’re oh so good at just a while longer. One more hour, you’ll black out and you’ll be able to run into a highway divider or over the median and into the lake on John Nolen Drive. Just get drunk one more time. You’ll never kill yourself when you can feel the guilt of your friends and family pushing down on your still struggling conscious.’
It’s not the first time I’ve been depressed or been close to ever even feeling that way. I put on a hundred pounds and had a set of boobies to me by the time I was a senior in high school. There’s times I can still hear ‘bitch tits’ being hurled at me when I’d be walking the school hallways. Being the know-it-all, sarcastic asshole became my armor. I drank a full bottle of Jack in a forest at a girls house one weekend because I was so tired of doing so well in school and getting harassed about it. I couldn’t go home for two days and I laid in a cabin for two days hanging on from alcohol poisoning. In college, I burnt a friend over a stash of casino chips and was trying to figure out how to pay him back before I decided that it’d just be easier to sell off my things and disappear. I went on a week long trek - no one knew where I was - and the whole time I walked the streets of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison trying to figure out where I could die without anyone knowing me. My first bout with cancer - I walked home, on the way stopped at a liquor store to clean them out of my favorite high percentage craft beer in 22 ounce bottles and drank with my friends while telling them the news of my cancer - not letting them know I thought I had taken enough pills to not wake up the next day.
Everyone has their weak points and struggles. My biggest distraction was to not address mine while engulfing myself into others. In a twisted way in my brain, if I cared enough about these people, they’d care enough about me to the point where even if I kept being a habitual fuck up in everyday life, I’d have a reason to stick around. If there’s anything I’m thankful for from being so sick for a few years of my life, and its definitely from a vain aspect, I’m glad that the weight just melted off of me from never being healthy, because I already wasn’t taking care of myself. It was the ‘long con’ of suicidal tendency: if I didn’t care about my health then maybe I’d just get sick enough. The issue with that was there was always someone making sure I was going to treatment, that I was doing okay, that I got help if I needed it. Crying for attention wasn’t my kind of tea in terms of me being emotionally available. I never thought I could successfully take my own life sober, no, I knew I couldn’t. It was worse when I drank because I had the internal struggle where within I’d tell myself that I’d fucking show everyone, that I’m better than I am and fuck everyone for chastising and judging me worse than when I was directionally lost in high school.
For as much legal trouble as my once flawless record saw in 2018, it was needed for me to finally get out of the drunken stupor and autopilot I had my life on to just float along on my survival skills and minimal effort. Drinking went from bingeing with friends and acting like an idiot while trying to unconsciously pick up women in the most embarrassing of ways, to drinking so I didn’t care what happened to my body or soul. Choosing sobriety this year has opened multitudes of feelings, physical and emotional, that I either didn’t realize I could still have or thought I had lost to trauma. When I work out, I feel the dull pain in my surgically repaired groin from all the infections of being cut open from cancer. The memories of drunk nights I thought I had forgotten have slowly come back to me in the most random of places; dreams where I fought with exes, smells in a passing store that remind me of certain places I’d been and forgotten, sitting in the dark staring at my computer screen remembering late night conversations with whiskey and tears and friends.
The easiest decision, looking at it today, was to stop drinking to put my head on straight. To find the reason I want to be here. Things had to change. Friends and family can come and go but you’re of no help to any of them, not to mention of no help to yourself, if you can’t find a sense of self direction. What makes you tick; why you want to get out of bed, take a breath when you wake up and roll over. I had lost my way and trampled my self esteem, courage, desire, dreams so many times that I was just acting daily in a force of habit. A lot of those days alone, I don’t remember much because there wasn’t anything I was doing to make my life memorable. The stories and situations that everyone had grown accustomed to loving weren’t there because I wasn’t there. I am still not all the way there, but I make memories for myself those days now. I sink time into video games. Write until I’m bored with talking to myself. Read until my eyes hurt from looking at the same words I’ve seen many times before.
It has gotten better, and if you need to hear it if you’re going through it, it will get better. As cliche as it comes off, give yourself a reason and a chance to take care of your demons, find a light to follow through the fog of your thoughts. People can laugh, mock, whatever - I’m definitely not innocent of it - but if a higher power, a rock, four gods, a fucking unicorn makes you feel better about being here then grasp onto that and - I cannot stress this enough since this has been my ultimate problem forever - don’t look for validation or acceptance from people that don’t deserve your time in the first place. Determined that it was necessary to have everyone love you to be successful, I can almost count on two hands the number of times I have set foot downtown to see people I consider friends. What took 33-ish years for me to come to grips with is something I wish I could stress to people that need to hear it the most: You will never be liked by everyone. Surround yourself with the ones that like you when you’re not blacked out making out with guys girlfriends. The ones that hit you with cars when dropping you off at a bar. Don’t take people in your life for granted but more importantly, live your life for you, first. Stop changing who you are to make others happy and be happy with yourself before putting your guard down and flaunting yourself.
Today I couldn’t be more thankful that I still didn’t have it in me to kill myself. I didn’t ever really want to, I just didn’t know how to help myself without taking it to unnecessary extremes. It’s perfectly fine to be helpless and utterly acceptable to ask for help when you feel that way. All of you that know me (and even the ones that just read this for fun) know that writing started out as a struggle just to express how I was dealing, coping, coming up with answers on how to help myself. Ten months and no alcohol whatsoever, I write for the therapeutic feel it has. Writing has become what I wanted it to be; more of a exploration into a profession. Not that I don’t have my sappy moments and days where I just write poetry about how shitty I was on some day or what dumb thing I said while I was drunk. Your non vocal judgments and your audible support has been most supportive in this time of just trying to figure myself out. In all honesty, I’m still not where I want to be but hey
I’m not pulled over in Maple Bluff, drunk, behind the wheel of my car not wanting to live.
There’s a tweet I put out earlier that I think sums up how I feel and will feel for the rest of time on this daylight savings weekend.
For me, observing the time falling back at this point every year from now on will just remind me of how I didn’t want to ever see it spring ahead again until I put my head on straight. Its been a long year but one I’m thankful for. Thanks for sticking with me, if you have.