Monday, January 17, 2005


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  • This past Saturday my therapist gave me a homework assignment. I was to get a picture of myself as an adolescent and write a short essay about my feelings about that adolescent. In particular I was to write about the anger that adolescent felt and what I got from that anger. How did that anger help me to survive?

    I was surprised at how few photos I have of me as an adolescent. Actually, I am not surprised at how few I have. I have virtually no pictures of myself at all before my wedding. The only reason pictures start at that time is because my wife took them. I never kept pictures of myself as a child or teenager.

    My mother, however, put together a scapbook, for lack of a better term, of my life and gave it to me for Christmas several years ago. I am surprised at how few photos of myself as an adolescent appear in there. The one I am looking at was taken May 30th, 1987. I am in black robes and a mortarboard, accepting my high school diploma from that fat redneck fuck of a principal, Weldon English. I know exactly what I was thinking. I wanted the ceremony to end because I was going over to my friend James Marzano's house for a graduation party afterwords.

    In many ways those were the first set of the best years of my life. I am living in the second set right now. But back then alcohol worked for me. Indeed, that graduation party was one of my fondest drinking memories. I stayed up all night and in the morning I had a beautiful African-American girlfriend, Nicole. There was also a huge bruise on my forehead from head butting Paul H. This was before hangovers were a part of my life. I could drink for hours and hours and maintain that elated, euphoric feeling of control and power without consequence. Of course, by then I had already totalled two cars, both times I was drunk. Actually, maybe I had only totalled one car at that point.

    How do I feel about that kid? I don't really know. There is kind of an emotional blank there, like I should care, but don't.

    My memory of that kid is that he lived in essentially three or four states of mind. Fear and anxiety dominated the first state. I was always afraid of not fitting in, not being welcome, not being accepted. For example, when I was in journalism, if a story of mine did not get selected to go in the little high school rag, I would be crushed. Some things never change; last night on a forum that translated English to Irish Gaelic I was asked the context of the phrase I wanted translated. I debated lying, but finally explained that it had a Pagan connotation. Before I posted the context I had gotten two replies from two views. Since posting the connotation I have gotten zero replies from 22 views. And I am feeling all rejected and depressed, so I have to turn it over, let go of it and go on.

    As a teenager, I could not let go of what I saw as rejection. Depression was the second state of mind. The difference between depression today and depression back then was that I had no way other than drinking to combat the depression then. Today, there are tools and they help me to step out of myself, gain perspective and carry on. Depression is still difficult for me though. I guess the biggest difference is that today I believe that at some point it will end, things will get better. I did not believe that at all then.

    Elation was the third state of mind. I essentially experienced that feeling when a) I was about to get into some chick's pants or b) I was about to take that first drink. Given a choice between the two, I honestly believe I would say something like, well, she's not that hot anyway and opt for b. Choice b did not involve much interaction and I still got the reward. That probably explains why I have only had sexual relationships with about five women in my life but estimate that I drank 18,600 beers and 3,015 pints of vodka (I figured this out very early in sobriety. It seemed important at the time).

    The last state of mind was anger. I did not direct this outward usually. I directed it inward.

    I will have to continue later, it is time for work. Blessings to you.