The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “addiction”

The Perfect Life

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I had a perfect life. That’s what everyone told me.  I was blessed.  Lucky.   Other women envied me, wishing even for a slice of my life. They envied my handsome successful husband,  my three beautiful children,   my large home in the best neighborhood. I was quite attractive and always dressed in the latest styles.  I never had to go to work. I was free to enjoy the kinds of activities women of leisure enjoy.

I should have been happy.   I had what everyone else wanted; what everyone else was sure would make them happy.  I felt there was something deeply wrong with me because even though I had all this, I was profoundly dissatisfied.

I was happy enough when my babies were small, until the youngest started school.  Suddenly, my days were unfilled.   I didn’t quite know what to do with my time.  My husband traveled frequently on business and was often gone for days, weeks at a time.  I didn’t particularly miss him, but it did leave me lonely for adult company.

I joined a club and met some other women who also needed to fill their days.  We gossiped, complained, and bragged over cards, over lunch, in the pool.  I needed a challenge so I took tennis lessons, and risibly fell victim to that utterly predicable and clichéd story line:  attractive but bored, unhappy housewife has affair with handsome, raffish instructor.

I craved emotional diversion.  I was desperate for my blood to run with passion again, to feel that yearning in the heart and loins.  I rejoiced to feel alive and desired. I hungered for it like a drug.  He began to appear frequently in my dreams and always in my fantasies.  I touched myself, imagining it was his hands on me. Everything reminded me of him. I lived for our weekly trysts.  He became the main focus of my thoughts and attention. I needed him like oxygen.

The weight of my need was more than he was willing to bear. I was too attached, too needy.  I became demanding and weepy.  I wanted things from him that were ridiculous to expect from such an ultimately meaningless relationship. I became undignified.  And so he broke it off.

I was devastated.

I could not go back to the club.  I could not bear to see him with other women.  I could not even bear to be out in public, so raw and so vulnerable.

In the beginning, I would have a drink or two in the morning – enough to help me tolerate the empty hours, but early enough in the day so that I would be relatively sober and put together by the time the children came home from school in the afternoon.

After a while, I’d drink just until the moment the first one walked in the door.  I thought they were too young to notice.  (I was wrong.)   Eventually, I didn’t even care enough to hide my drinking — not from the children who seemed not to need me, not from the housekeeper who was smart enough to do her work and mind her business, and not from my husband when he was around.  He didn’t seem to notice me much anymore anyway.  Other than civil dinners lacking all intimacy, we mostly stayed to ourselves,  him in his part of the house and me in mine.

The drinking transformed from something I did to numb my sorrow and loneliness to a genuine addiction.  Early on, when necessary, I was capable of functioning out in the world  —  go to the market, the shops,  bank, the hair salon.  I’d have just a quick one before setting out and I could tolerate it for a few hours. I didn’t think anyone knew my secret. (I was wrong.)

Over time, it became more important to me to be able to drink at will than to be able to hold myself together for the sake of others.  I was aware enough to recognize that in my usual condition. I was too sloppy to be in polite company.  When drunk, I was prone to doing embarrassing things. I did not want to bring that humiliation on my family.  So I stayed at home.  Besides, daylight and other humans had begun to bother me.

Once, while in the middle of figuring that out,  I picked up my youngest son and some of his friends at an after-school event.  I was quite drunk.  The teachers must have noticed my condition, but they dared not stop me from driving. Although it would have been the reasonable thing to do,  it was not their place.  On the way home, I swerved off the road on a sharp S-curve and came perilously close to a fatal accident.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but the children were terrified and I was deeply shaken.

To my credit, I learned from this incident never to drive in that condition.  And since I was almost always in that condition, it was easier to remain inside, curtains drawn.

As my appearance deteriorated, so did my health.  I grew soft and sloppy.  My face puffed and my muscles sagged.  I looked years older than my chronological age.  I had gone from the envy of all to the person everyone pitied, including myself.

Towards the end, when my condition was too awful for my family to continue to ignore, they tried to get me some help, but I was already beyond the point of salvation.  I didn’t want to stop.  I didn’t want to change. I just wanted to remain numb until I died, which I expected would not take long.  I knew it would kill me.  I hoped it did so quickly.

My children cried because I loved the bottle more than I loved them.  My husband felt guilty for not having gotten me help earlier, when possibly I might have been saved.

But it was not the drink, itself,  that did me in. That was a symptom. What destroyed me was my guilt over not being happy despite all that God had given me. According to everyone else, I had everything a woman could desire to achieve maximum satisfaction.   If I was unhappy with all this, clearly there was something wrong with me; there was nothing that could make me happy. I was too damaged and undeserving of happiness. If I could have assuaged my guilt by giving those slices of my life to whoever could take benefit from them, I would have.  Such advantages were wasted on me.

I had made the grotesque mistake of believing what everyone else did: that money and possessions and status and appearances were the source of happiness.  I could have been happy in that my situation, just as anyone can be happy in any situation, if I had simply placed the greatest value on the smallest things.

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Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Aimless

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I was, by most anyone’s account, a thoroughly useless human being. I cared about nothing and no one, not even myself.  This was not because I was selfish or evil.  It was simply that nothing interested me more than superficially, fleetingly.   I felt no passion for anything or anyone.  The result of this (or perhaps the cause) was that I lacked any sense of purpose.

In my youth, I had a small circle of friends from school.  There were social protocols which confined me to a normal path, thus my problem was not so obvious, not even to myself.  If I ever noticed that I seemed to be the only one without any kind of goals or driving motivation or special interest, it didn’t bother me. I assumed that something would eventually attach itself to me to pull me in one direction or another.

Nothing ever did.

After school, my friends went their separate ways, finding both happiness and disappointments in their pursuits.  Without the structure of the group, however, I just drifted, pushed along by the tide of expedience or whoever tugged most strongly at my sleeve.  I felt no loyalty — not to people, not to places, not to ideas.   I hurt and disappointed almost everyone I met in my life — parents, friends, teachers, lovers.

I was too emotionally lazy to care, to pursue meaningful relationships.  I lacked all ambition. Everything and everyone was just a place holder.

After a few years, the ennui became too tedious to bear, so I numbed myself with drugs.  I found in them an alternate reality that was more far more absorbing, more textured, and more interesting to experience than real life.  It was a world of fantastic dreams with no pressure to be or to do anything.  I fell into the habit easily.  At first, it was only an escape from nothingness, but before long it became my raison d’être.

In the beginning, I concealed my habit from my family. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hurt or worry them.  I just didn’t want to suffer their good-hearted but feeble attempts to put me right.  As far as I was concerned, I was already on the right path. I had no need for help.

Over time, my addiction became impossible to hide. It showed on my face and in my body, and mostly in the way I lived my life.  I remained in the real world only long enough to find the means to again escape from it.

I knew such a life would kill me at a young age but that didn’t put me off of it.  I hardly cared about dying.  I’d miss no one and nothing, and no one would miss me.

Looking back, I cannot say that I could have been happy had I taken another path.  The road I traveled, even in retrospect, seems the only one possible, given who I was and how I felt (or rather, didn’t feel.)   Had I lived in a different time or place or culture, I might have been forced into a role and given an ostensible purpose. That might have but me in the box of a normal life, but given who I was at my essence, nothing would have made me happy. Any other path I might have taken would also have ended in some tragic way.  I was damaged at my core. No amount of introspection or self-awareness would have changed that.  Had I been married with a family, I would have made them all as miserable as I was. At least I spared others that.

I am sure there is a lesson here, but I still do not understand it.

 

—————–

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
Photo credit: http://shauqidrh.deviantart.com/

I Love The Smell of Free Will in the Morning

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I was a coward but, in my defense, most humans are in one way or another. It is in our nature to be afraid – of the unknown and of being known, equally of failing and winning, of loving and of not being loved, of change and of not being able to change.

Perhaps it is an unconscious itch at the back of the skull that leads us, in ways unrecognized, to a lifetime of habits. Or they may be burdensome fears, compelling and crippling, which weigh heavily upon us, miring us and slowing our progress. Or perhaps they are blinding, oppressive which drive us into dark corners and onto malevolent detours, hijacking our lives.

To be conscious of the fear and the ways in which it shapes us is to finally enter into the terrain where dominion is ceded to no one and nothing; where the blossoms of free will perfume the air.

 

image: Simon Valcourt  https://www.facebook.com/simonvalcourtartiste

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Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days.  Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward.  Would greatly appreciate sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Thanks!

The Eye of the Needle

eye of needle camels

 

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To achieve great wealth and power in a human lifetime, one must be almost single-minded in such a pursuit, desiring these things above everything else. These wants are driven by the ego — the gratification of rising above and having dominion over others. The satisfaction derives from the mistaken notion that greatness in one’s lifetime makes one superior to their fellow man.

But human achievement is not equal to spiritual achievement. In fact,  one usually precludes the other. The more one appeases the ego, the less one is able to develop spiritually.

Observe  the very rich, the very powerful — politicians and kings, religious leaders and giants of industry.  It is easy to recognize how disconnected many of them are from the purest part of their own souls.

They fill the void with the spiritual equivalent of empty calories – material goods, status, , with the game of bending others to their will. And although they may have greater ability to shape the world to their whim and even direct the course of history, once on the other side they hold no special status except as having been a tool to move along the story of humankind;  a tool of the universe.

However the desire for greatness is not the only way in which humans cater to the ego. Submission to any of the various manifestations of the self  —  insecurity, fear, guilt, desire, grief, anger, pain — prevents  the soul from ascending, from connecting with the greater universe. This is what blocks the soul’s path to true peace

To covet anything –even serenity and spirituality — is to accede to the ego.

sculpture by Russian artist Nikolai Aldunin

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

Robin…Was That You?

first published November 2, 2014

Robin_Williams-3

 

Last night I had a very vivid dream about Robin Williams.  In the past, I would have simply assumed it was merely a dream but these days, I’m not so sure.  I figured I’d let the readers decide:

He came into a dream version of my apartment.  I met him near the door.   He immediately let me know he had one line of coke left and that was it…forever.   Then he graciously offered it to me.  I debated seriously whether to take it or not. I’ve never been  a fan of the stuff. I’d done a few lines here and there, back in the 80’s when it was all the rage, if it was offered to me at a party, but it was never my thing. I never sought it out or bought it for myself. I haven’t even seen the stuff in decades.

I looked at Robin and realized that if HE did that line, it would destroy him. It would likely re-trigger his addiction and take him down a dark path. If I did it, however,  it would likely be a pleasant but ultimately insignificant experience for me.  So, I accepted it as graciously as he’d offered it in order to save him (although in the dream, I never actually did the line.)

He was very hyper anyway,  and was walking around my apartment,  scoping out the place.  He started to look through the CDs in the shelves and drawers under the stereo.   Now, most of our CDs are in a 400 disc changer,  so any albums NOT in the stereo are the rejects.    He somehow made himself very small and crawled deep into the cabinet.  He kept calling out names of CDs and chastising me for my bad taste in music. I kept trying to explain that yes,  those albums ARE awful.  That’s why they’re not in the player!

Finally, he crawls out, still  bitching about my music but now he is naked.  He is NOT an attractive naked guy. He’s kind of barrel-chested and very hairy.  I give him a towel to wrap around himself, but he doesn’t seem interested in covering up.

“Ya got any Pat Boone?” he asks.  “The early stuff.  I just discovered it and I’m really into it.”  (And HE has the nerve to comment on MY musical taste!?)  I do not, but I’m wondering if perhaps I should have a listen. Who knows, maybe I missed something good.

Meanwhile,  Robin is running around my apartment completely naked,   checking out everything (and in my real apartment there is quite a lot to check out!) He’s opening doors and going into all the rooms; poking through drawers and closets.

Finally, he goes over to a door which opens into my neighbors’ apartment (like in adjoining hotel rooms. But this is a dream door, only.)  I try to stop him.  I doubt my neighbors would be happy to find a hairy, naked guy in their living room… but he plows ahead, unstoppable.

Now we are in the living room of a real life couple friend of mine (who are NOT my neighbors.) They are initially taken aback,  but I introduce him and they seem OK with having him there.

The end.

***

What does it mean?  Did he visit me within my dream or was it all a just a function of my sleeping synapses?  I have no idea.

Anyone know if he was into Pat Boone before he died? 😀

________

More on dreams, next time…

No Regrets

New Post!

 

Nicolas Bertin (1667/1668–1736)

Nicolas Bertin (1667/1668–1736)

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While alive, I was a person of enormous appetites, consuming in great, greedy bites. I wanted to press my heart to its limits; to ride the beast of life bareback. I made no excuses for my desires. I took lovers and when they no longer satisfied, I moved on. I drank fine wine and excellent whiskey, but never so much that I could not enjoy the next day.    I traveled. I hustled. I painted and danced and wrote. My lust was contagious. Most of the people I met along the way were happy to help me along on my quest, for they lived vicariously through me. I did what they wished they were not afraid to do.

I wasn’t always there for those who needed me, but those closest to me understood why I could not be.

Maybe I was selfish. I was called that a few times.   But I had my own mission, my own plan, and I could not be held back by the small obligations and petty desires of others.

I always assumed I’d die in some exotic location or in the midst of an insane physical challenge, but somehow, I lived to be quite old, and died peacefully at home, surrounded by those who had helped me fly.

It was a good life…not without its pain and disappointments…but lived well and to the fullest.   Perhaps I could have done things a differently to achieve a different outcome, but I did what made sense in for me in every moment.  Anything otherwise would have made it a different life.

 

Robin…Was That You?

Robin_Williams-3

 

Last night I had a very vivid dream about Robin Williams.  In the past, I would have simply assumed it was merely a dream but these days, I’m not so sure.  I figured I’d let the readers decide:

He came into a dream version of my apartment.  I met him near the door.   He immediately let me know he had one line of coke left and that was it…forever.   Then he graciously offered it to me.  I debated seriously whether to take it or not. I’ve never been  a fan of the stuff. I’d done a few lines here and there, back in the 80’s when it was all the rage, when it was offered to me at a party, but it was never my thing. I never sought it out or bought it for myself. I haven’t even seen the stuff in decades.

I looked at Robin and realized that if HE did that line, it would destroy him. It would likely re-trigger his addiction and take him down a dark path. If I did it, however,  it would likely be a pleasant but ultimately insignificant experience for me.  So, I accepted it as graciously as he’d offered it in order to save him (although in the dream, I never actually did the line.)

He was very hyper anyway,  and was walking around my apartment,  scoping out the place.  He started to look through the CDs in the shelves and drawers under the stereo.   Now, most of our CDs are in a 400 disc changer,  so any albums NOT in the stereo are the rejects.    He somehow made himself very small and crawled deep into the cabinet.  He kept calling out names of CDs and chastising me for my bad taste in music. I kept trying to explain that yes,  those albums ARE awful.  That’s why they’re not in the player!

Finally, he crawls out, still  bitching about my music but now he is naked.  He is NOT an attractive naked guy. He’s kind of barrel-chested and very hairy.  I give him a towel to wrap around himself, but he doesn’t seem interested in covering up.

“Ya got any Pat Boone?” he asks.  “The early stuff.  I just discovered it and I’m really into it.”  (And HE has the nerve to comment on MY musical taste!?)  I do not, but I’m wondering if perhaps I should have a listen. Who knows, maybe I missed something good.

Meanwhile,  Robin is running around my apartment completely naked,   checking out everything (and in my real apartment there is quite a lot to check out!) He’s opening doors and going into all the rooms; poking through drawers and closets.

Finally, he goes over to a door which opens into my neighbors’ apartment (like in adjoining hotel rooms. But this is a dream door, only.)  I try to stop him.  I doubt my neighbors would be happy to find a hairy, naked guy in their living room… but he plows ahead, unstoppable.

Now we are in the living room of a real life couple friend of mine (who are NOT my neighbors.) They are initially taken aback,  but I introduce him and they seem OK with having him there.

The end.

***

What does it mean?  Did he visit me within my dream or was it all a just a function of my sleeping synapses?  I have no idea.

Anyone know if he was into Pat Boone before he died? 😀

________

More on dreams, next time…

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

A Bottle In Front of Me

 

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I had my first drink when I was around ten. My parents were having a party and I sneaked out of my room and watched them through the bannister on the upstairs landing. The adults all seemed so much more sophisticated than they did when I saw them during the day.  The women, in their little black dresses and high-heeled shoes. The bursts of laughter from various corners as people told jokes or funny stories or made a clever remark. I watched a neighbor slip a kiss to a man who wasn’t her husband. There was music playing, and the sound of ice clinking in glasses. People danced and snuggled on the couch. They were happy. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be part of that sophisticated world.

It was late when the last guest left. My parents ignored the mess and went up to bed, leaving the cleanup for morning. Once they were in their room, I tiptoed downstairs. I could still smell the mingle of perfume, cigarette smoke and human pheromones.

I picked up a glass that had an inch or so of some kind of liquor – I’m not sure what it was. I sat on a high stool near the small bar in the corner of the living room and in my pajamas,  imagined having a conversation with several sophisticated people at once. I imagined them all laughing at something witty I’d just said. I picked up the glass and had a sip.

The taste was awful but at the same time, it was as if a key had slipped into a lock and opened something inside my head. A rush of chemistry surged through my blood. I felt complete in a way I’d never felt before. It was as if I’d been missing this but only now just knew it.

This was a secret the adults were trying to keep from us kids! It was a rite of passage, an invitation into adulthood, to finally be legally old enough to drink sometime in my late teens.

I wasn’t going to wait nearly a decade to be able to feel that way again. I didn’t want to live without it.

From that point on, to drink was both an act of pleasure and of defiance. I wanted it and I was not going to let any  rules get in the way of my having it.  I wondered what other secrets the grownups were keeping from me.

It was around then that I stopped trusting what others told me about “good” and “bad.” Who decided which was which? Why did I have to go along with the rest of the world, anyway?

I started the way many alcoholics do:  I raided my parents’ liquor cabinet. I started at the back, with the weirder stuff that they rarely touched. By the time they got around to it,   they would never remember how much had been left in the bottle. So it was crème de menthe, peach schnapps. Pretty awful stuff, especially straight up.

From there, I moved up to the gin and vodka which I replaced by volume with water. If they noticed, I never found out. I was careful not to replace too much.

I did the same with my friends’ parents’ liquor cabinets. Some of them had bottles I’d never seen before in my parents’ bar. Foreign, unpronounceable names. Years and numbers, as if they were something special. They seemed exotic.

I had a French teacher when I was 15.  By the end of the first week, I knew she was an alcoholic.   I recognized the signs.   I’d see her around in the morning and she’d seem normal, but by the time I sat in her class in the afternoon,  she was already a bit drunk.  She’d slur her words;  lose track of her thoughts;  bob and weave a bit when she walked.   I quickly figured out this meant she kept a bottle close at hand.

I watched her classroom, and when it was empty, I crept in in and searched her desk.  There it was,  in the lower left hand drawer — a small bottle of vodka.

I took it. I had no fear of being caught.  I knew she would never, could never, report it stolen.  Anyway, she was an adult. At worst, for her a missing bottle was an inconvenience and the loss of a some pocket money.  I told myself I was doing a service to my fellow students — she’d be sober for at least one afternoon’s classes.

I knew she’d replace it; I knew she couldn’t be without.   Several days later, I stole it again.   It took her a week or so to realize someone was taking her desk bottle; that she hadn’t just misplaced it or finished it and forgotten to buy more.  When I went to look for it the next time, it wasn’t there.  I figured she’d hidden it somewhere else.  She needed a few shots to get through the afternoon, and she needed easy access to it.  It took me a couple of days to locate the new hiding place, and that was only because I didn’t have much time to search.

It became a game.  She would find a new spot, and I would look until I found it. (It rarely took me more than a week.)  I drank and entertained myself for the entire school year playing cat and mouse with that one teacher.

As I got older, I  became more creative about finding ways to drink.   I also started to know more people who were above legal drinking age. I was able to exchange favors – sexual and otherwise – for a bottle or two.

Beer would do in a pinch, but I’d developed a preference for vodka which had the benefit of not really smelling on the breath. I realized this was why my French teacher preferred it.

By the time I was of drinking age myself, I’d learned quite a few tricks about how to drink for free. Mainly, it helped to be funny and charming, to know a lot of good stories and jokes. That’s how one got invited to all the parties.  And when you’re entertaining, people always want to ply you with liquor.

I was The Drunk at every party. Sometimes, I was the only drunk guest. But I never got sappy or obnoxious. Even in my alcoholic haze, I never lost control. I was still able to be funny. Sure, I slurred my words and occasionally knocked things over, but I never vomited on anyone’s rug (or in anyone’s bathroom, either, for that matter.) I never said or did anything that was hurtful. I would often get very affectionate. Liquor made me happy; it made me love the world and myself and all of mankind. Sometimes, I’d lose track of others’ conversation and became confused about what they were talking about. I’d make a comment about what I thought they were discussing when in fact I had missed the point entirely.  In turn, they were confused by my remarks because to them they made no sense.  Of course they made sense to me, based on what I believed they were talking about.   I developed a reputation for saying these crazy, off-topic things.   But they made people laugh, so they kept me around.

This was how I lived my life.

I had a decent career which enabled me to support myself.  Ultimately, however,  it was always about the next drink. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved the feeling I got from liquor.

I only dated other alcoholics because the sober ones always pushed me to quit.  Yes, I was an alcoholic, but quite a functional one.  I saw no need to stop something that gave me so much pleasure.

But just because my life was relatively functional, didn’t mean there wasn’t damage – to my body, to my brain to my resistance. I got old, fast.   The best thing that could have happened to me would have been a small car accident or a crazy drunken tirade in the wrong company or an arrest for some inebriated infraction.   Any one of those might have served as a wake-up call.

Instead I managed to live in the no-man’s land of functional alcoholism. I never fully acknowledged to myself how my craving for liquor was stronger than anything else inside me.   My entire life,  I chased chemical spirituality. I was beneath any true understanding or enlightenment.  And that was the tragedy of my life.

____

 addendum:  I should add that I, myself, do not drink nor have I ever.  None of the people I knew growing up were like this.  None of my adult friends are like this.   This is definitely not coming from me!!!

***

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

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