Impulse Control in Sobriety

A lesson in compulsivity: Drink 5 cups of coffee in the morning -> buy cigarettes and chain-smoke to calm nerves in the afternoon-> go to Asian Massage parlor in the evening to calm now-hyper nerves-> finish, and give her a very small percentage tip in an attempt to mitigate the shame that has accumulated. Although, this shame goes much deeper than money.-> Get in the car to leave and swallow the loneliness. I know how I will feel leaving the spa but I can never forecast that shame objectively. I am near-sighted in matters of gratification, my eyes only see the instant kind.

There is comfort in resorting back to this familiar cycle of sexual release and subsequent shame. The massage parlor temporarily quenches my never-ending lust (figurative and literal) for behaviors that induce shame. The lust is never quenched though. The craving is only that much stronger after it has been satiated. The compulsive, pleasure seeking act becomes a catalyst for a whole new cycle of self-destructive behavior, ad infinitum.

I have operated alone and in stealth-mode for most of my hours on this earth. This way, I am safe from any woman or person’s judgment of my awkwardness and my solitary, sensitive nature. I truly believe that no woman will accept or understand me as a mate, despite my repeated attempts to tell myself this is crazy talk. There is a constant ambivalence I feel towards female companionship. I want it badly, yet I am repulsed by it. I feel as if I will always be the one dancer in a synchronized routine who is a second or two behind the rest of the dancers. I am the ill-fitting, bent piece in the 1,000 piece puzzle.

I lurk in the shadows and observe effortlessly-social animals like I am behind the glass at an aquarium. I obsess over my appearance and every move I make around people. I take personally, every slight eye movement and lack of interest a person has towards me. I foolishly expect people to ask how I’m doing and resent them when they aren’t completely aware of the storm raging in my mind minute-to-minute. I continue to fight my narcissism that masquearades as martyrdom and tries to convince me of its merit.

When I am alone, I can weave together intricate narratives in my head in which I am the superhero, but no one ever knows it because of my understated persona. During my drinking days, I would only emerge into the realm of others, when I was sufficiently dialed-down or dialed-up chemically, depending on what I was in the mood for. I always hesitate to leave the comfortable Utopia of my mind in solitude, but the loneliness starts to suck the meaning out of every single part of life. Loneliness swallows everything up that might normally have significance. The need for others and their absence renders anything else in the universe meaningless. Yet loneliness is the reality I create for myself, day in and day out, despite the gloom it brings over my existence.

I am complicit in the perversion of my self-obsession with every fiber of my being. It is a sickness that needs to be reset on a daily basis. For this reason, I will never feel as if I am cured from Alcoholism, it is a daily reprieve. I hate the label of alcoholic, as I find it to be limiting and pigeonholing, but there is just something about sitting in that seat in a 12-step meeting and hearing other people share their pain and struggles that just makes me feel better. When I hear others speak of self-consciousness, anger, sensitivity, sadness, it makes me feel just a little less alone.

I feel as if I desperately need to be made whole and recuperate from my high school experience. I may always carry the pain of feeling ostracized and alone from those years. I always wanted the respect of my peers at this defining point in my life, high school. My lack of success at the social game of high school is an outcome that repeated itself in every stage of my life thereafter. I am trying to outrun my shame about it yet make up for all the lost time spent commiserating over it. That is why happiness and fulfillment for me, seem to be an unscalable wall, an impossibly high mountain, or like completing a marathon as an double amputee. Attaining this strong, complete sense of self and happiness seem like physically impossible feats, like immutable laws of nature and gravity.

I lack this “tribe” that many males seem to have and derive their self-worth from. These tribes can be formed around any hobby or team sport that the guys have a shared interest in. This is the reason I have always been awe-struck by men in the military, and envious of the bonds they have solidified and hardened in battle. Soldiers have literally lived and died for the men by their side, and to me, there seems no greater sense of utility and fulfillment in life than that, regardless of any nefarious motives of the higher command. Sebastian Junger argues that it is unnatural that the majority of the men in modern society to not go to war, as men have been fighting for the survival of their families and communities for millennia. He maintains that men are hardwired for aggression, war, and the deep, primal bonds that can only be branded into one’s soul in war.

I will go entire days where the idea of writing a post makes me wince and I am ashamed of everything I have ever written. Most of the times I actually come to the page ready to churn out a post, the pendulum of my mind state has swung to feeling maniacally egotistical. The idea of posting has become an adrenaline rush and I assume the posture of fuck it. This behavior follows the see-saw bi-polarity of my daily moods. I wake up every day with an all-consuming self-centeredness that has the power to drag me down into the quick-sand of self-pity and”poor me.” I am Super Mario fighting to climb out of the strong pull of the sludge.

During periods of joblessness, I realize how fucking pointless life can be. Is getting home from work at 6 or 7 pm and plopping down on the couch a feeling of accomplishment? Am I simply gutting out 8 hours of distraction at work in order to make the rest of my mediocre life palatable? Every job I have ever had, seems like strategic, sustained distraction that succeeds in convincing me I possess agency and a control over my own fate. When I am not being told to arrive at an office at 9 am and leave at 5 pm, I want so badly to return to punching a clock to earn my pay.

I realize how correct Freud was, when he said that humans crave, and need the structure of a civilization built according to a patriarchal mold: with a father figure (leader), a boss, to obey and be rewarded by. It is easier to be constantly reassured by the mass acceptance of conformity. It is easier to accomplish things on the same linear scale that the majority of people use (career in business, climb the ladder, wife, house, kids) rather than create your own metric of success. This is the paradox of busyness. When I have a job, I always desperately crave freedom from it and more free time. When I don’t have a job, I desperately crave the structure and order of being told what to do. In my periods between jobs, I reminded of the degree to which I have been conditioned to love slavery to a gluttonous system of capitalism, greed, and emotional repression. The choice I face every day is to 1. let that spirit and fire in my heart come out and find that new metric for success, or 2. continue to repress that spirit and show up at what I tell myself is a job, but is really just a fancy distraction.

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