I honestly didn’t plan to. I was having another perfect (as near as could come under the circumstances) not smoking, chillaxing, reading. I woke up feeling physically rather well, especially considering the last couple of months, and while I had a few downward dips, felt well enough to go out to the movies in the late afternoon. Then I got home, did not want to be stuck in the house, so went out to the local dive with the intention of having two shots, two smokes, and maybe a conversation or two.
And that’s exactly what I did—at first. I stopped by the grocery store, picked up a two pack of cigarillos and some dog food (for the raccoons) then proceeded to have a smoke and a drink. Some guy I didn’t know sat near me and started to chat me up. He was pretty wacked out, so much so at least that one of my favorite bartenders asked the girls who sought him out if he was bugging them. Then one of the regulars, a guy who used to live a few blocks from me, came out. He was pretty wicked out too, which was fairly unusual as he tends to just come, socialize, play some pool, but otherwise nurse one or two beers over a couple of hours. We talked on and off for awhile, I finished my second drink, then returned home. On the way I saw a guy working on his motor scooter. He’d been working on it before but he didn’t seem like he was in trouble so I let it be. Ended up talking with him on my second outing later in the evening, making sure he was okay or if he needed anything, which is unusual for me as I don’t tend to be a peoply person. Oh, and did I mentioned I went out a second time, something I keep telling myself I’m not going to do? Yeah, that’s where the problems always arise.
It’s not that I’m a terrible or mean drunk. And, at least compared to other people I know with drinking issues, I have some semblance of keeping myself in line. Indeed, I spent most of the rest of the evening not smoking, people watching, chatting with a few people I knew. For example, one of the regular regulars found and fist bumped me, talked about how we needed to get together sometime to bing watch the old and new Battlestar Galactica television programs. Not that I’d expect him to ever be able to stand (or more importantly: sit) in one spot long enough to get through the opening credits, but it’s the thought that counts. I ended up sticking around until they turned on the “last call” lights, which means around 1:30am, just talking, listening to music, people watching, talking to one of my best friends over Facebook messenger (and probably making a fool of myself in the process), and then after coming home, sucking down what little nicotine I had left in my possession, I somehow managed to brush my teeth and plop down in the home office that also contains the bed I grew up in (it’s where I sleep when I’ve down a few too many so I don’t keep my wife up with the snoring which nearly always accompanies a night “on the town”).
It’s a habit I need to stop. But it’s difficult. I’ve got it down to the point where I’m (usually) only going out once a week on a Friday or Saturday (if and when I’ve gone on a work night I keep it to that two drinks, for obvious reasons). And it’s not like I feel like I need a drink. I really don’t. The biggest trigger for me is the simple fact that I literally have no social life (outside of social media). That dive is my “Cheers”, the place I can go where everyone (well, a lot of them) know my name. And while the connections aren’t typically super deep or meaningful, they are human connections, and for whatever reason, even as an extreme introvert and admitted high functioning autistic adult, I need those single serving friends once a week. And of course there’s the health issues. I feel like some level of shit all day, every day, even if I’m not smoking, not drinking, eating better, and getting exercise. The medical industry is taking their sweet goddamn time helping me come up with some kind of plan that includes me not wondering if I should be making out my will. It’s frustrating as hell. And after a few drinks, the majority of my symptoms happily fade into the background. I feel almost human. And I’m not feeling so shy I can’t just open up to regular small talk like all the neurotypicals take for granted.
My dad, while he was still with us, would always suggest I join a church. I grew up in a strong, Lutheran family. We were very involved in our congregation. But as a late teen and early twenty something I started to explore other Faiths and beliefs and came to recognize that what I am is something that can’t be contained by any one belief system. And while I do attend Christmas Eve services once a year (often at a nearby Catholic Church), I can’t in any realistic way consider joining a church when I’m not a believer. I’d be a fraud; unless I pretended to be something else, I’d never truly be accepted (and if I did pretend and was being accepted, am “I” really being accepted in any real sense). So it doesn’t make sense for me to join a Faith community—it would be less “real” than going to the local dive where at least everyone there has two primary reasons for attending: drinking together.
And yes, I’m paying for it today. Had a couple more than I should have (though much less than I could have if I’d been in a “fuck it” mind set, which I wasn’t, or a “the music flowing through my Bose’s are preventing me from making good decisions). And I know, if you know an alcoholic you’re probably thinking you’ve heard this all before. And you probably have. What can I say? We all need to work through our struggles in our own ways and for me, part of that includes blogging, sending my thoughts out to the entire world as I make sense of the how and why I do what I do, think what I think, behave how I behave. Truth is, I want to work myself towards self actualization. And that, in a way, is part of the problem: it’s a lofty goal and given how far it seems away I get frustrated, do say fuck it, I’ll just have a drink and see my “friends” for a bit. Truth is I’d rather be focused, healthy, on a treadmill, and spending my evenings doing the old Netflix and Chill. But at least I’m writing. Pondering. Exploring. Taking baby steps towards a better life. One step at a time, baby. One step at a time.