Saturday, January 7, 2017

Understanding Anxiety (and Alcohol)

Anxiety is a bit of a quandary.  It isn't easy to define. What is it precisely?  Hard to say--maybe sweaty hands?  Maybe very quick heart beat?   Is that all, though, or even the core of it?  I don't think so, though I'm not sure. The core of it seems to be more about a mental state, and that mental state is one that can only be defined by what it is not: satisfied and secure.  It is everything but secure, warm in a snug cabin as snow falls.  It is as if the bottom has dropped out, as if all the accumulate framework of knowledge that you've relied on to broker inner life with reality has disintegrated, that every breath, every assumption is somehow insecure in its moorings.

And that's frightening at base.  What may be more frightening is that it may allow us a glimpse into more of reality "as it is" and less of just our cocky human mind layers of confidence.  

Which is also to say that anxiety allows truth to emerge in fractured and jagged beauty.  I'd hope that this, too, could ameliorate the dread involved, but perhaps not.  Even after all of it, anxiety is not controllable, and that lack of control can itself trigger further heightening of fear and panic.  

Alcohol is also about control.  And oddly enough, after every drink, every bit of loosening of the reigns of one's control, there is I believe in effect a zero sum overall game in relation to anxiety.  In other words, it will be back, and it will be back stronger and more lasting than before.  The only way a lot of us deal with it is to have another drink, thus pushing the intensification and latency of anxiety further.  Which starts a vicious cycle, of course.

So, how to tame alcoholism?  Be able to deal with anxiety without alcohol.  If you cannot, then you cannot drink.  It really is all logical deep down, somewhere that we do not want to often see.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Alcohol and Anxiety

The single hardest thing to do when getting sober is tamping down anxiety.


It is at the core of all good alcoholics out there.

Anxiety is not a very easy subject, mostly because it cannot be conquered.  It cannot be concluded.  That's the nature of it. To quiet it is to die.  And death only begets more anxiety.

Can't die to stay sober.  Gotta live.

And if you've gotta live, and you gotta figure out sobriety, you gotta figure out anxiety.

Sticky wicket that.

But conquer anxiety and you conquer alcohol.  Now, how to do that exactly?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Anonymous Calls Me A Fool For Being Sober

Go figure!  Got this comment (below) on August 3, 2015.  Now, when did I write that blog post you might ask, especially if you were going to call someone a fool?

Ah, let's see, February 2012.

So, how, exactly, do you get to 20 months?  And when your math is so off, how do you get off calling someone a fool?

And precisely, please tell me, how do you call ANYONE a fool for ANY time sober?

Sounds like you know who is the fool.

Anonymous said...
You have been sober only 20 months and think you can write a blog about sobriety? What a fool.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New Goals.

Start things.  And finish them.  Simple, right?

Then go do it.  And stop talking about it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nostalgia Early Days

Nostalgia seems to be based a certain lack of awareness of one's experiences, that is, pre-narrative.  Before we apply a frame, we experience "that stuff" of life without borders.  Surely, we do have borders, but for nostalgic crooners among us (most of us), they were more porous and less intensely explicit.

Nostalgia is tricky, partially because we cannot recreate that time, especially and precisely because the notion of recreating it necessarily pollutes it.  But also because the lathe of memory is too strong for us to remember accurately.

Nostalgia is like fantasy: best kept in one's head.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sobriety In The New Year

If you've planned to give up drinking for the new year: welcome.

If you've given up drinking before: welcome.

If you have been divorced, dirty, morally challenged, and regret deeply: welcome.

When you figure out that you have to make a change and you're on the third sick day of benders: welcome.

When you give up alcohol and gain ten pounds from the counterbalance of sweets; if

you're grumpy and assholish and nasty when you can't get your fix;  and

you're smart and devilish and sarcastic and a little crazy and selfish and you have decided you know everything you can like the foolish teenagers you calibrate away from seeing clearly: welcome.

And when you decide, after your five weeks of post new year slump that being sober is a downer;

And when your friends decided that your sober self is a bit different, shall we say, from the "real" you;

And when the light bulb cannot be fished out with a half cut slice of potato;

And when the fledgling excitement is stale:


This is sobriety.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bespoke Ersatz

I hate myself.  I don’t mean it.  I mean I hate that I’m either only annoyed or frustrated, or isolated, alone, and depressed.  Perhaps it is the bipolar.  Perhaps it is the manic depressives that I surround myself with, my capacity to change always for the social group I’m with, my fundamental lack of self.  I am unfulfilled.  I’ll say it and scream it and flail it and bleed it or some such, and I’ll certainly not grow out of it, or so it seems at this point.  So I’m stuck with it, with me, that is, and that’s depressing since I so desperately want to break free from myself.  Which is why I drink.  Which is why I stopped drinking—the fact that I drank.  Reason enough, with my personality.  It’s just that the self blaming, self victim shit really does get old, especially when on repeat and especially when there’s no earthly reason for it.

And so.

NYC.  The ever loving having made it city.  The place where you go to become something you’re not.  A perfect place for the delusional, really.  Fuck Vegas.  We are in the mirror twisted panorama of human fantasy right here, in this little hip long island, where authenticity rages and ersatz is bespoke.   

The point is not above.  It is not the critical.  Only production matters.  And production—of anything—is quite difficult.

Try it sometime.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dear Alcoholics

Dear Alcoholics.

Those of you among us who might feel a bit of relief at the tilt of a bottle.  Those of you fight off anxiety.  Those of you who, perhaps, have a wife, and a family, that is, children, who in turn look up to you with none of the scorn that you may dish out your own reflection.  Those of you who find heat unbearable and intensity inevitable.  Who are suffocated.  Miserable.  Placated by nothing objectively good.  Who have problems with proper behavior in social situations, at parties, for instance, or in meetings at work.  Who have dreams of stature and perfection.

I have a quick little message for you.

Seeking perfection is a struggle you can't win. It won't be easy to convince others who suffer for your struggles.  Those others will suffer, regardless.  You can stop their suffering by stopping your quest.  You can find a way to compromise your ideals.  You can find a way to be flexible.  If you do not, you will be driven back to the bottle every time and you will be alone.

Being able to successfully communicate your struggles is a good step, but it is not a solution. Realize that people just don't care as much about you as you care about yourself.  Realize that you are ultimately small, and that there is no way to be big.

Time is limited.   The only thing drinking does is waste time and set the seed for delusional nostalgia.  Not all nostalgia is like this.  Not all memories are like this (wistful, and wanting for a time that once was).

You have been incorrect many times in your life, and you are, in fact, by default incorrect.  Realize this and internalize this so that you can gain humility, and interrogate everything scrupulously, never settling on easy conclusions.

Proving everything you have to prove is in essence an act of masturbation.

Prove yourself by being modest and supporting others.  You will be rewarded for it far more than you think.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Figuring It Out?

How we do or don't understand what we already understand--the circumference of our knowledge, if you will--is actually a terribly difficult and hard project to start.  It is akin or parallel or even exactly the same issue of wondering whether there is ultimately any purpose to one's life, and whether there is any purpose at all.

I don't know what I don't know.  However, I am quite aware that there is a lot I don't know.  At this point, I'm even willing to say that I don't know most things.  However, that's not always a successful way to live life.  Paralyzing anxiety and dread can come out of it, and stop one from thinking straight at all.

So there's got to be some sort of leap of faith in one's own capacity to understand decipher and try to knock down the harsh complexity of the world and one's place in the world into some boxes, categories, and yes, stories.  The reduction of raw data to stories is in fact at the core of almost every discipline.  What is the story with those numbers, for instance, or with that dataset.  How do we understand it in words, even if very complex words that take years to understand?

We reduce.  Simple and plain.  The best of us recognize the reductions, and the complexity behind those reductions.  The worst of us use the reductions as reality.  Conflating the two can yield quick gain, but I'd wager that long term it is not a tenable strategy.  Deciding you understand everything just because you think you do is not, to me, the sign of what we should be aiming toward, or how we should act.  However, it is how we act most of the time.  Almost all arguments are based on someone's misunderstanding of reality, and backing away from your own misunderstanding is the hardest thing to do in the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It is OK to take things seriously, with one important caveat

You must self-correct when you're wrong, and you  must maintain blithe lightness of mind.  Difficult, when getting deeply into something, and emotionally wrapped up in one perspective on that thing.  Purposeful open-mindedness is something that is an artform, and a lot of "open minded" people are quite close-minded.  This troubles me.

But the point of the post was that it is OK to try, to make effort.

What we're scared of isn't effort, but failure, that our efforts = no result.

Even given "failure," though I would argue that there is almost always something to learn if you've made a serious effort.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Doing It, Your Own Way

If you have the right kind of confidence, doing what makes you uncomfortable can be entirely enthralling, and spur on intense creative streaks.

It isn't doing what you are scared of, and it isn't the confidence itself that forms the spine of this sentence.  It is instead the need to go through incredible amounts of repeated mistakes, and still strike forth, nestled atop a scaffolding of slowly built up and and learned increments.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Things

I had a horrible classic exchange today where "fuck yous" were exchanged.  Well, it left me shaking, weak, and full of misdirected rage.

I miss some people that I once had in my life.

There are no easy resolutions for either.