“People so separated from the human condition by their individuality that it is not possible for them to believe others might possibly be capable of feeling the same way that they feel.” Another phrase commonly found in the language of recovering alcoholics & addicts. We like to believe that our story is different, that no other drunk or junkie could possibly have dealt with the things that we have. The pitiful reality is that for the majority of us, we are “garden-variety” outliers on the societal scale of substance abuse. We may go to the far extremes in our usage patterns, but the ways in which we arrived at our respective rock-bottoms tend to have more similarities than differences.
For a long time, especially in my late teen years, I believed this to be true of myself. By my senior year of high school, I felt an inexplicable alienation from many of my peers — and it planted a seed of bitterness in me. By my senior year in college, the seed had grown to fruition into full-blown misanthropy, nurtured daily with plenty of cheap, shitty alcohol.
“I wish I was special / You’re so fucking special”
But I liked it. Because I never figured out how to properly grieve my father’s death years earlier, I found the swell of emotions whirling inside of me impossible to understand or tame. So I drank; and it “helped.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that using alcohol as a coping mechanism would throw me down the well to sputter in the waters of deepening depression. So I clung on to my misery like a life preserver, relishing it, reveling in it. I became addicted to it, because by my own self-medication, I did not know how to feel much else. It was by far the easier option, anyway, than to deal with the real, true emotional hardships.
I kept all this inside me. It’s a large part of why I so crave deeply intimate & physical relationships, and why I am tormented by breakups — because I had never known closure in the loss of my father. Only now, through admittance to my powerlessness over alcohol and intensive therapy & counseling, am I able to understand & share these things.
“You won’t see me, express emotion /
tears runnin’ down my cheek; drops in an ocean /
Locked in a room, lookin’ out the window /
and when I look at you, I’m lookin’ through a keyhole”
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