I Once Was (Almost) A YouTube Star

Bipolar disorder giveth, and bipolar disorder taketh away.  Case in point:

Fueled by mania, I almost became a YouTube star – then depression returned and my dream of YouTube stardom died like so many projects before, and so many projects since.

Right after I graduated college I became obsessed with Minecraft like a lot of other people around that time.  I also became interested in video editing because mania makes you interested in totally random crap – so why not?  Then I married the two and voila!  A Minecraft gaming YouTube channel was born!

pn
Good old Pugnation!  And no, this is not a shameless plug for my YouTube channel.  I promise you, there’s no reason to go there unless you really want to hear my faux-excited / nails on a chalkboard announcer voice.

OK, maybe 5,000 subscribers doesn’t make me a YouTube “star” but at the peak of the channel the growth was incredible.  I was gaining subscribers by the dozen every day, and like a snowball rolling down hill, it was picking up momentum at an incredible rate.  I started getting big views like this:

big vids
These actually paid for the computer I’m writing this on.

Stardom was still far away, but it seemed inevitable.  Fantasies of quitting my job ran through my head.  I became obsessed with making the absolute highest quality content possible.  It took hours to shoot a 20 minute episode, and then that was followed by many more hours in the editing room (And by editing room I mean the unused bedroom of our two bedroom basement apartment).

Everything had to be perfect – the footage, the edit, even the video thumbnail.  It seems strange now that I had that much time to do anything, but that was before children.

Just kidding.

I remember this obsession was a source of stress in my still new-ish relationship with my then girlfriend and now wife.  She always supported my little (or big) projects and still does; but this one was truly consuming.  This was years before my bipolar diagnosis so I didn’t fully understand all the reasons for the obsession myself; but really, it makes sense.  Bipolar mania hooked me at the beginning, and it slowly became an addiction.

At first, you’re sustained by your interest in the topic alone.  You spend hours working on a video, you release it, and nobody watches it (just like writing a blog!).  Then you do it again, and again, and again.  Eventually you get a trickle of views and some comments, and you’re thrilled!  It feels amazing seeing people interact with your work; it’s a high!  As you build an audience the positive feelings grow and grow.  And just like that, you’re addicted.

“Hit like, comment, and subscribe!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…”

But like alcoholism, it requires more and more work to keep getting the same high.  The pressure to release more videos grew and grew.  Eventually it’s all I wanted to do, and anything that interrupted my video making was extremely frustrating.

Ultimately, the channel collapsed.  The stress of continuing to release high quality content as quickly as possible began chipping away at it.  The strain it put on my personal life began to take a toll as well.  Eventually the depression returned and finished it off; one day I simply lost interest and stopped making videos.  The channel has since faded into obscurity, but still exists as a living monument to my bipolar disorder.

This all seems pretty negative, but there are some lingering positives that came from the whole attempt at YouTube stardom.  I already mentioned that it paid for my computer, but I also gained a ton of knowledge about video editing, image editing, and internet advertising; not too shabby!

Additionally, I gained some other valuable insights:

  1. You’ve got 5 seconds to hook people: YouTube lets you see exactly when people stop watching your video, and it’s very frequently in the first 5 seconds.  That’s how long you have to convince people to watch your stuff.  I can’t tell when you stop reading these articles, but I imagine the same principle applies to this blog.
  2. If you’re not passionate about your topic, nobody will watch: My voice might be annoying-as-hell in those videos, but at least it’s enthusiastic.  People hate it when you sound bored in videos.  They’ll be bored too.  Again, the same thing applies to writing.

In closing, I wanted to point out that Loudest Minds actually does have a YouTube channel.  Granted, it’s not exactly something I recommend you visit since there isn’t a single video there yet.

But hey, I can fix that!  Why don’t I just apply what I learned while making Minecraft videos and make a Loudest Minds video?  As I recall, the recipe for a successful YouTube video looks something like this:

  1. Get people’s attention FAST: Blow something up in the first 5 seconds.  Whatever you have to do to wake people up.
  2. Be enthusiastic: Drink 5 cups of black coffee.  Channel your favorite annoying sports announcer.  Hit record and let whatever happens happen.
  3. Give people a reason to watch: People have approximately 400,000 TV channels, 3 quadrillion webpages, instant access to free porn, 2 trillion apps, and Words With Friends all at their fingertips.  They have a lot of other stuff they could be doing other than watching your video.  Remember this and work tirelessly to give them a reason to watch. 
  4. Keep it short: Ever load a video and see that it’s 20 minutes long and think, No. effing. Way?  Me too.  Remember, brevity is the soul of wit.  Keep it as short as possible.  I made a successful tutorial series that promised you’d learn the concept in “3 minutes or less.”  People loved it.
  5. Cut Mercilessly: Record 3 hours and keep 10 minutes.  95% of what you recorded sucks.
  6. Include shameless self-promotion: Hit like, comment, and subscribe for more!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…

So with all that in mind, here’s the very first, very awesome video from Loudest Minds!

Hit like, comment and subscribe for more!  See you again soon.  (Side experiment: If you made it this far in the article, leave a comment that says “Rosebud” and confuse the 95% of people who stopped reading in the first 5 seconds).

No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 4 – Discovering Consequences

Actions have consequences.  They also have emotional consequences.  You know that, your children know that, everybody knows that – but I didn’t.

I’ve always possessed a certain swagger that’s helped me both personally and professionally.  It’s a trait that I always assumed was an inherent part of me, and was also one of the things I liked the most about myself.  Now sobriety has robbed me of this too, replacing swagger with fear.

I always relied on alcohol as a parachute.  If I ever tried something and failed, I didn’t have to actually feel the failure.  Embarrassment, frustration, shame – all gone, replaced by a relieving numbness.  There were no consequences; at least not substantial ones.  Sure, the plane’s gone down before, but I’ve never gone down with it – I’m somewhere else, gently floating down to earth.

Now that I’ve thrown the parachute away, I’m a lot more hesitant to fly.  If the plane goes down, now I’m screwed too.  Forget that, better keep the damn thing on the ground…

Let’s ditch the plane metaphor and talk about boats instead: I recently tried to take my wife and three year old out on a canoe ride.  My family vacations every year in Maine, and canoeing is one of our favorite activities.

My wife and daughter were sitting in the boat, ready to go.  I decided to show off a bit and sort of “skate” the canoe out to the lake.  With one foot in the boat, and the other on the lake bottom, I pushed off as hard as I could to give the canoe a bit of a boost; picture someone skateboarding a canoe (and try not to laugh at how stupid that is).

So obviously, this is a pretty dumb maneuver, and also one that is completely pointless since the boost you get takes you about 5 feet further than you would otherwise go.  But it’s a cool way to get in a canoe.  This is a great example of what I mean by swagger – Showy, confident, and often pointless.  But look at how cool I am.

But of course, this time I fucked it up – the boat capsized almost immediately, dumping my wife and 3 year old unceremoniously into the water.  My daughter was terrified.  My wife was pissed.

I now had to drag the half sunk canoe back to shore while trying to comfort my daughter who was sobbing hysterically.  Her fun boat ride was ruined… and now she’ll probably be too scared to get in the canoe again – at least on this trip.  My father-in-law and my wife’s cousin looked on with expressions hovering between amusement and vicarious embarrassment.

Four weeks ago, I would have excused myself, went up to the cottage, and drank a glass of whiskey.  I would have come back down to the beach, probably made a self-deprecating joke or two about how stupid that was, and life would go on.  The parachute would open, and I’d glide back down to the surface.  The swagger would live on.

Now, sober me has no fucking clue what to do.  I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and angry at myself.  My mind immediately turned to alcohol, and I felt the strongest urge to drink that I’ve felt in weeks.  This was supposed to be fun!  Now I fucked it all up!  I fucking suck!  I need a drink!

I assume a logical, healthy person who experienced this sort of set back would recognize it as just that – a minor set back.  I assume they’d process it in a matter of minutes, and would be on to the next thing.  My wife got over it in less than a minute.  Even my 3-year-old got over it in a couple minutes.  But me?  My response was to go inside, isolate myself, and sulk for over an hour.  Did I mention alcoholism has turned me into a child?

I suffered a trivial defeat and had to face the consequences.  I had to feel negative feelings; and over the past 10 years of alcoholism I’ve completely destroyed my ability to do that.

I’ve started to actually worry about what I’m doing.  You probably take that for granted, but the whole concept of worrying about anything is completely foreign to me.  I suppose this is anxiety – I’m not sure because I don’t think I’ve ever felt it before.

It once took me about 10 seconds to decide I wanted to move out of state when offered a job promotion – If I’d been asked to make the same decision now I don’t think I even could make a decision.  The anxiety would probably kill me.

How do people deal with this?  Do they?  Is this why so many people live such safe, boring lives?  Do they fear the emotional consequences of failure, and so avoid the possibility altogether?

Presumably healthy people have a way of working through this, but I have no idea what that is.  I guess on the surface a little bit of worrying is probably not a bad thing.  I mean, if it stops me from riding a canoe like a skateboard with my wife and 3-year-old in it it can’t be all bad.  But like almost everything else with sobriety so far, right now it just sucks.

On to week 5… Continue reading No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 4 – Discovering Consequences

No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 3 – Who Am I?

I once wrote that if you asked me to describe myself, the word Bipolar wouldn’t show up in the first 10 adjectives I used.

If you had asked me before I quit drinking I wouldn’t have used the word alcoholic either.

Now, I’m pretty sure it belongs in the top 3.

You may have heard the expression, you are what you eat (Hopefully that’s not true, because then I’ll have to start introducing myself as Reese’s Cup).  Well I’ve always thought it more accurate to say, you are what you do.

The English language seems to agree with me on this point.  Let’s say you’re an accountant.  If someone asks you what you do for a living, you don’t respond with “I do accounting.”  No, you are an accountant.

Even many family identities have their roots in what people did for work:  Smith, Carpenter, Cooper, Potter, Mason, Taylor, Miller, Baker, Spicer, Cook, Fisher, Shepherd, and on and on.  Incidentally, I’m glad this tradition has fallen away.  It’d be unseemly for my daughters to possess the not-so-proud surname of Drinker.

Sobriety has made me realize that I have no idea what I do, and therefore, I have no idea who I am.  For my entire adult life, drinking is what I did, and an alcoholic is who I was – even if I wasn’t willing to admit it.

I’d even find ways to incorporate drinking into non-drinking things.  I’m currently vacationing in Maine.  My wife’s family has a beautiful cottage on a secluded lake in a rural area of the state.  There are tons of activities available from canoeing, row boating, sailing, boccie ball, and mountain biking just to name a few.

So those all sound like healthy things to do… but a boat’s a great place to keep a six pack.  And a glass of whiskey is a really good counter balance to a smooth boccie ball roll.  And a can of beer is a great motivator to get you over that last hill on the bike.

Week three of sobriety has led me to a startling realization:

I don’t really like any of the things I thought I did.  I only like drinking.

It makes sense really.  Why did I use to get irritated doing fun things like going to a concert, or going to the state fair?  It’s because these things made drinking harder to do.

You might be irritated that it costs 10 dollars to get a crappy beer at the concert, but it really pisses me off.  How dare they?  That’s just ridiculous!  And then… I wish I had stayed home.

I bought a fancy cooler because it has what I refer to as a “smuggler’s pocket.”  It’s one of those coolers on wheels that has 15 pockets, and one extra special, extra hard to find one – perfect for sneaking beer through security checks.

10 bucks for a beer?  Ha!  I’m much smarter than that!

So now that I’m sober I’ve discovered a great emptiness where my “interests” used to be.  It’s terrifying – but if I may risk some optimism – it’s actually sort of exciting.  I might actually discover what I like doing.

And so I’ll conclude this week 3 sobriety update with my first positive update – This past weekend my wife, two daughters and I did something that I hate.  We went to the state fair.  I’ve always hated the crowds, and there’s only one goddamned beer tent!

Here’s the thing though – I LOVED IT!

My 3 year old frolicked through the pens of cows, sheep, pigs, horses – filled with the wonderment and joy of childhood.  But there I was with her, experiencing the same – filled with a joy of discovery I’ve been denying myself for an age.  As she experienced happiness, I felt it too – and I can’t remember the last time I really felt the experiences or emotions of another person.  I can’t remember the last time I was actually happy for someone, and the last time that happiness affected me.

I’ve written before about how sobriety has reduced me to the level of a child; how I lack even basic coping skills, and how my reactions to stress are not much more advanced than the reactions of my children.  But maybe I’ve been thinking about it wrong – maybe I’ve been elevated to the level of a child; capable of experiencing joy and discovery again.

So week three is in the books – maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t suck as much as I thought.

This is part 3 of a series.  The previous part can be found here.

On to week 4

 

 

No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 2 – Why Am I Quitting?

Week two of sobriety is in the books.

I still hate it.

I got very close to a relapse this week.  I was blindsided by members of my family who discovered this blog and then told the rest of my family about it.  I was not ready for anybody to know about this part of my life, and that disclosure sent me into a three day tailspin that caused me to miss work, and compromised my ability to continue on this path.  It is clear to me that my family does not think of me as an adult worthy of respect and privacy, but rather as the child they remember from years past.

My family’s lack of discretion has caused me to question whether or not I should continue posting on this blog.  How can I possibly speak honestly and openly when this is a source of gossip for them?  Could you do that?  Could anyone?

But I need to keep going.  Writing here has been one of the precious few countermeasures against my urge to drink.  To stop now would jeopardize my ability to keep walking this path.  And I must walk this path.

Why Do I Have To Quit?

Drinking is an important part of my culture.  Alcohol is present at nearly every gathering of family or friends.  It would be more unusual if there wasn’t alcohol present.  Very rarely is drinking perceived as being an issue.  Sure we drink a lot, but we can keep it on the rails; well, except for me.

Drinking is not an obvious problem.  If you go to a party, chances are pretty good that everybody’s drinking.  It’s perfectly legal and accepted.  In fact, it’s usually considered weird if you aren’t drinking.  But if I went to a party and started snorting lines of cocaine, it’d be pretty obvious that I had an issue.

So what distinguishes my drinking from normal drinking?  Why do I call myself an alcoholic?  Where’s that line and how did I cross it?

This will take a little while to explain so bear with me:

During this second week of sobriety I’ve uncovered a truly crippling weakness: My ability to naturally handle stress has been completely blunted as a result of abusing alcohol for over a decade.

For years I’ve taken the easy way out.  If I was ever pushed to feel something I didn’t want to, I simply drank until the feeling went away.  If I had a stressful day at work, or a stressful day of parenting, I’d just get hammered.  Easy!

INADGraph
Repeat nearly every day for 10 years.

The crazy thing is that this actually worked for a very long time.  I’ve been able to maintain a high level of functionality by balancing my mental health and stress issues with alcoholism.  So what’s the problem?

The problem is that this balance is destined to break down at some point.  Life’s stresses have a tendency to grow as work and family responsibilities increase, and your body becomes increasingly efficient at processing alcohol.  As a result you need to drink larger quantities with increasing frequency just to achieve the same effect.  Eventually you cannot possibly drink enough, frequently enough, to manage your stress level.  This is when the scheme of the alcoholic collapses, and life begins to fall apart.

In the past three years I have been promoted three times, had two children, and moved to another state.  My responsibility has increased 10-fold, but my ability to handle it has lagged behind.  My alcoholism has intensified in the past couple years to bridge the gap, but despite my best efforts the gap keeps widening.

In the past month or two I began joking with my wife that I needed better drugs.  Maybe I needed to score some cocaine to maintain the false sense of superiority and confidence that has helped fuel my professional rise.  Maybe I could supplement alcohol’s stress relief benefits with some narcotic pain killers.

The thing is, I wasn’t joking.  I was realizing that I was at the point of collapse and I was desperate for relief.  I was no longer able to maintain all my responsibilities, my mental health, and my stress level with alcohol alone.  Either something would have to give, or I’d simply have to find more and better drugs.

For me, giving anything up was simply not an option.  The most realistic move would have been quitting my job, and finding one with lighter duties that more closely match the particular strengths and weaknesses of someone struggling with bipolar disorder.  But my pride couldn’t handle this, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell my wife that I was no longer capable of providing our family with the standard of living we had come to enjoy.

So that left better drugs as the only option.

I couldn’t really ask anybody in my personal life how to acquire these drugs – that would be a pretty obvious crack in the facade of greatness I’ve crafted.  Perhaps I could buy drugs online.  I mean, why not?  You can buy anything online, can’t you?

I began researching how to access the dark web, and how to conceal your internet activities and purchases from authorities.  I had the money, and I certainly had the motivation, I just needed to acquire the means, and I was getting closer.  Soon I’d have my relief.

Thankfully, I realized the ridiculousness of this scheme well before I acted.  I was already married to alcoholism, and I would be embarking on a path that would almost certainly lead to the destruction of my family, and probably end with me in prison.

I abandoned my ill-advised quest to get a better high and quickly fell into despair.  I couldn’t handle my job and the responsibilities of my family.  I wasn’t getting the relief I needed anymore.  The ultimate solution started creeping into my mind.

During the performance of my normal work duties there is cause for me to go up to the roof from time to time.  When I’d go up there I’d start feeling that familiar, eerie pull into oblivion.  The feeling came more and more often, eventually striking me when I wasn’t even on the roof.  Then I’d start finding reasons to go up there when really there were none.  I couldn’t stop the thoughts – I didn’t want to.  They became a strange source of comfort for me.  If all else failed I always had that one, ultimate, source of relief.

A lot of things prevented me from jumping off that building: my wife, my mom, my dad, my brother – but ultimately nothing was more compelling than the image of my 3 year old daughter asking her mom, “Where’d Dada go?”

That’s why I have to quit drinking.  I need to discover a sustainable way to cope because my life is on the line.

What’s Sobriety Like So Far?

Well, if there is one positive thing that’s come from these first two weeks of sobriety it’s the disappearance of the suicide imagery.  Mercifully, that seems to be gone.

But the rest has been very negative.  In fact, it’s been so negative that I often find myself asking why I’m even doing this.  Surely, it can’t be worth all this.

There needs to be at least one joke in here.

I find myself in an extremely precarious position.  I hold a job that I don’t think I’m capable of doing anymore now that I can’t go home and get hammered afterwards.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with all this stress, and I can barely get myself out of bed to go to work anymore.

I’m struggling at home with the kids.  When I have support, I don’t have an issue.  But when my wife is working and I’m alone with the two kids I go to pieces.

Just before finishing this post, I couldn’t get the baby to stop crying for almost 2 hours.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but two weeks ago I would have gone downstairs, drank a glass of whiskey, then returned upstairs to take care of my child; no problem!  Now, deprived of that source of relief, I simply break down.

I had to put the baby down and go downstairs to have what I can only characterize as an adult temper tantrum – throwing things, screaming into a pillow, crying, ripping my hair.  This is pathetic, weak behavior that is not unlike the reactions of my three year old when deprived of some toy.  But this is what I’ve become.

Alcohol has left me stunted in an infantile state wherein I’m incapable of processing the frustration and helplessness that comes from being unable to soothe an infant.  My ability to father our children has been compromised, and I am deeply ashamed of that.

Logically,  I know I need to push through this.  I need to develop the ability to cope with life’s stresses without resorting to alcohol; but I can’t help but think, maybe I should just keep drinking until the baby has grown up a little bit.  Maybe I should keep drinking until things are a little less stressful.  But is that really for the best?  Is there ever going to be a good time to quit?  What better time than now?

Alcohol allowed me to run away from my emotions, while maintaining a “normal” life.  Now, bereft of that relief, I find myself daydreaming about literally running away.  I catch myself thinking about quitting my job, and driving to Arizona to just disappear for a while… or maybe forever.

But my children deserve a father.  My wife deserves a husband.  My parents deserve a son.  And I deserve peace.  So really, all that’s left is to become stronger.  Become stronger, or become consumed by frustration, anger, and regret.  There is no other choice.

On to week 3

This is Part 2 of a series describing my efforts to quit drinking.  The previous post can be found here.

No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 1 – Sobriety Lets Me See Me… And It’s Ugly

I’ve been sober for one week today; I absolutely hate it.

Fair warning: this post is not going to be pleasant.  There will be no sage advice or words of encouragement.  This is not a story of triumph.  There is no inspiration to be found within – just the words of an alcoholic recently deprived of his relief… a man who recently killed his best friend.  Read on at your own risk.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this.  It’s like some monster is raging inside me and I have to get it out.  I don’t care how ugly it is, I don’t care how offensive, how embarrassing, how dishonorable, whatever other words you can throw at it, I just want it out.

For over ten years I’ve been making every excuse imaginable to deny that I’m an alcoholic.  I recently wrote a post for The Bipolar Writer Blog on that subject.  I don’t know exactly why, but I finally decided to do something about it; one week later I feel like I’ve made a terrible mistake.

Quitting alcohol has forced me to reflect on myself in a way I haven’t in a very long time.  I’ve very quickly discovered a great seething darkness within.  It’s as if I’ve kicked over a rock, and now I’m recoiling from the squirming mass of grotesquerie that was always lurking just underneath.

Alcoholism bestowed upon me wonderful adjectives – funny, outgoing, personable, friendly, powerful, ambitious, successful.  Now that that’s been stripped away, I’ve discovered my real adjectives – my monster:

Jealous:

I am a disgustingly jealous man.  Like most things, it started young.

I had a father for which nothing I did was ever good enough.  I never attempted a task that wasn’t criticized (often harshly), and I never uttered a sentence that wasn’t corrected.  At a very young age I learned to tread carefully lest I invoke the dissatisfaction of my father.  This seems a laughably trivial offense to an adult, but it is a crushing devastation to a child.

This seed of timidity continued to grow through childhood. I was afraid of failure and humiliation and as a consequence I did nothing, I accomplished nothing, and I was proud of nothing.

I hated who I was in middle school – a meek little kid who got picked on.  I hated who I was in high school even more. I was kind, smarter than most, and funny; but I was painfully introverted, and terrified of making mistakes.

I surrounded myself with friends who outperformed me in every aspect.  They had jobs, they did well in school, their parents got them cars, they vacationed in Europe, they had girlfriends, they starred in the high school shows, they were well liked – adored even.   I was a hanger-on; always in the wings, never on stage.

I was a good friend, at least on the surface; but I harbored a disgusting secret.  Inside me squirmed a disgusting emotion – jealousy.  I hated my friends, even as I loved them.

A moment from my childhood remains emblazoned in my mind.  I was home alone, lying on my parent’s bed.  It must have been early June; it was a beautiful, crisp, clear day – perfect except for the wind that ravaged the monstrous pine trees that framed our neighborhood.  I might have been 16.

I don’t recall what the trigger was, but I remember the reaction.  I remember when the jealousy that I always harbored within boiled over.  I broke down and cried as I have never cried before.  It was a transformative, shameful moment.  It was in that moment that despite a devout religious upbringing, I rejected God and formed a new religion dedicated to the worship and betterment of myself.  God had been silent my whole life so it was now time to take the universe into my own hands.

My mind crystallized into a single thought which has never since been broken – the first pillar of my new religion:

I must be better than them.  I will be.

A pathetic, selfish, mission statement that has helped guide my life’s actions ever since.

Pathetic

What other word do you use to describe someone who needs constant validation and flattery?  Pathetic.

I am very successful for my age.  I’m not yet 30, but I might be your boss.

Ask me what the keys to success are and I will tell you some bullshit version of how I’ve realized the american dream through a combination of hard work and intelligence.  Good old fashion bootstrapping!

In reality, I have an overwhelming, pathetic urge to please as many people as possible.  Couple that with my jealousy-fueled mission to be better than them and you get someone who chases success, a home, cars, a wife, the next big promotion, you name it, with absolute ruthlessness; my life depends on getting the next thing – on getting that validation.  Without it, this whole charade starts to crumble.  Without it, I’m just that stupid fucking kid who stood in the wings waiting for his life to happen, too afraid to make it happen.

I recall another moment from my teenage years. I couldn’t buy a date, which was cause for an increasing amount of frustration for my hormonal, teenage self.  Eventually my frustration boiled over.

I remember it was New Year’s Eve.  My parents were out at a party, and I had decided to stay home by myself.  I stole a bottle of Bacardi out of the liquor cabinet and got hammered.  I may have been 15.

I needed to escape, I needed like hell to get out of that fucking house, so I put on a coat and stumbled out into the freezing night.  I grabbed a 6-pack on the way out the door.

I proceeded to get progressively drunker, stumbling through my home town and screaming at nobody in particular.  The wind was ferocious that night but it couldn’t match my own ferocity – at least not at first.

I eventually threw up in the street as I was overcome by the booze.  I threw the remaining bottles of the 6 pack as hard as I could into the night, screaming in rage.  How dare nature oppose me?

At last I found myself depleted, and finally winter began to consume me.  I lay myself down in a snowbank to rest.  I probably would have died there had I not called the then-object-of-my-desire on my phone.  I have no recollection of the conversation that followed, but I was found, picked up by her parents, and returned safely home.

The episode was the subject of hot discussion among people who knew of it, but not of much concern.  On the contrary, it was an amusement – a worthy topic for jokes.  It was in the aftermath of this episode that the second pillar of my religion formed.

Nobody cares what you think.  Nobody cares how you feel.  People only care about themselves.

Perhaps my need for validation is a pathetic attempt to try to refute that.  Perhaps I’m hoping that if enough people think highly enough of me that they’ll care what I think; they’ll care how I feel.  But deep down I know that’s not true.

After this episode I was taken to therapy and (mis)diagnosed with and treated for depression for the first time.

Selfish

My selfishness is a frequent complaint of my wife’s, and I don’t blame her.  I can barely lift a hand to take care of myself, let alone my family.

My wife handles everything.  The bills, the babysitting, the planning, the mail, you name it.  I help with some chores, I keep the house clean, and I take care of our kids’ basic needs, but that’s it; I do the minimum.

I excuse this by pointing out that I make a ton of money at my job – therefore I deserve to be treated well.  This was accepted in the house I grew up in because my mother unfortunately didn’t have much of a choice.  She depended on my dad financially.  This is not acceptable in an age when my wife can do just fine on her own, and it never should have been acceptable in the first place.  It’s a pathetic excuse made by pathetic, fearful men.

I had an easy early childhood.  I was the younger brother, and I was babied.  My brother did the heavy lifting while I was left alone for the most part to watch the TV until my mom’s home-cooked meal hit the table.  This slowly changed as I got older, but for most of my childhood this was the case.

I grew up into an adult who is still waiting for mom to make dinner.  Did I mention I might be your boss?  That should make you feel better if you fucking hate your job; if you’ve made it this far at least you got something out of it.  Your boss might be as pathetic as the guy writing this post; cheer up!

This personality trait is the foundation for the next pillar in my religion:

I deserve better.

Selfish.

Cowardly

When you cut through it all – the bravado, the job, the family, the house, all of it… I am first and foremost a terrible coward.

There’s never been a problem I couldn’t run away from.  When the going gets tough, I get going – straight out the door.  Figuratively and also frequently literally.

Job too hard?  Get a new one.

College challenges you?  Transfer.

Don’t like the party?  Leave.

Don’t want to hang-out?  Make a bullshit excuse.

The last moment I’d like to reflect on is still fresh in my memory as it happened less than 24 hours ago.  My wife called me out on being a selfish prick.  I couldn’t take it, so I literally got in the car and just drove.  For hours.  I planned on going to Walmart and getting basic toiletries so I could stay the night somewhere until the situation just blew over.  Then I’d just reappear when it was convenient for me and pretend nothing happened.  When my wife challenged me I’d make it her fault.

This is cowardice at its worse.

Cowardice forms the last great pillar of my religion:

Never let them see you bleed, and always have an escape plan.

I guess lack of originality is another trait of mine since I stole that from The World Is Not Enough but I digress…

In Conclusion, Why I drink:

Finally, I understand why I drink.

Yesterday, I told my wife that she is the reason I drink.  That her expectations are unreasonable and that she pushes me over the edge.  That was a cruelty she does not deserve.

In reality I drink because I was a jealous, pathetic, selfish, coward of a kid who became a jealous, pathetic, selfish, coward of a man.  A man has more tools than a child though; When the reality of those weaknesses would creep up in the back of my head I had alcohol to smash them back into oblivion.

Alcohol keeps me safe from what I fear the most – my own weakness.  That kid that I hate so much.  I formed a religion to protect myself from myself; Drinking is the most necessary, sacred rite.

Without a doubt this week has driven me to my breaking point.  I’ve come face to face with the darkness within me and I feel powerless again – powerless like I did as a child.  Powerless like I did before my religion delivered me to salvation.

It’s also become clear this week that not only do I have bipolar disorder, but I am also a narcissist and an alcoholic.  Charming.

I honestly wish I could go back.  It was simpler when I could just get hammered.  I didn’t have to deal with this.  I loved me.  Now I hate me.

But now there’s no putting the monster back – it’s out.  And if I can’t hide it anymore, there’s only one option left.

I have to kill it.  No quarter.

On to week 2

 

The Day I Murdered My Best Friend – A Poem

I killed my best friend just the other day.

 

Lord knows it was hard, and maybe it was

over the top, but she’d started to hurt

virtually every aspect of my life.

Even still, she poisons my memory.

 

But now I’m afraid of what I must face.

Over the years she helped soothe my loud mind.

Only in her presence did I reach my

zenith, and now without her I feel the

emptiness I’ve been drowning all along.