In keeping with my habit of using chemicals to fix things… today I began taking Lexapro again on the advice of my doctor and therapist. (And to the delight of Thom.) The first time I took this medication was 12 and a half years ago… And I wrote about it in a post called 5 mg:

“So, it is official. I am in the club. I just swallowed my first dose of psychiatrist prescribed crazy pill. Soon it will be digested and working its magic on my brain. Adjusting chemicals, re-routing impulses, and (according to all of the websites I’ve been reading) possibly screwing up my libido and causing erectile dysfunction. That part, hopefully, is highly unlikely.

Tony doesn’t see my taking a pill as any big deal. He has already swallowed a bottle of something he found in the dumpster last night and washed it down with a little Scotch. “Breakfast of Champions,” he quotes.

But Tony doesn’t remember that I have a long history of pills. Of course, I wasn’t taking these pills, but all the other crazies in my life were.

Luke was always on something–Lithium, zoloft, I dunno. Bipolar, manic-depressive, and prone to going many days without showering. Then there was C., who deals with some depression and OCD tendencies and is overcome by kitties. And Micah with his beautiful insecurity, Michael with his tortured musical temperament, and my sister. She was always a little on edge, probably why she writes so well. She swallows pills, too.

I would like to know how this miniature, white half-moon is able to find its way from my tummy to my mind? I gave it lots of company for its trip: coffee, oatmeal, fake sausage, and sinus medication. What if it gets lost? What if, instead of causing seratonin to flow free up in the attic, it makes other things flow down below?

Well, depending on what is flowing, I bet that could help me find some balance as well.

Crazy people of the world, UNITE!!!”

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The Beast in Me

“The beast in me
Is caged by frail and fragile bars
Restless by day
And by night rants and rages at the stars
God help the beast in me

The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me

Sometimes it tries to kid me
That it’s just a teddy bear
And even somehow manage to vanish in the air
And that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me
That everybody knows
They’ve seen him out dressed in my clothes
Patently unclear
If it’s New York or New Year
God help the beast in me

The beast in me”

–Johnny Cash

We’re told that our bodies are host to a virtual zoo of bacteria numbering in the millions. And those bacteria, though potentially gruesome to think about on an individual level, help us live and grow, age and die. And our minds are simply vast networks of neurons and synapses, firing and stimulating, somehow collectively creating consciousness. My one solid, physical self isn’t very solid at all. Every 7 years my cells have replaced themselves. Born anew again and again. And yet… despite this cacophony of little bits and pieces that manufacture my existence, I am threatened daily by one thing. The beast in me.

It’s the singular voice and belief that I am useless. It’s the anxiety and depression that motivates me to hide away and sulk. It’s the addictive voice that asks to be fed with alcohol and pills. It’s the scared little boy that needs to be protected. It’s the beast within that has me running constantly and going nowhere at all.

Now in the spirit of academic honesty (and helping me keep track of my references) I should mention that the concept of an internal “addictive voice” and referring to it as “the Beast” actually came from a website called Rational Recovery. My therapist recommended it to me when we were discussing the possibility of my alcohol dependency and abuse. It struck a chord with me when I read their explanation, but as I’ve sat with the idea for a few weeks I now feel like my own “beast” isn’t an active desire or compulsion. It’s the opposite.

Like “the Nothing” in The Never-Ending Story, my own internal beast is more like an absence. Apathy or atrophy. A loss of enthusiasm or blissful ignorance. A deadly force that will eventually break me apart from the inside. It may manifest as desire to drink or anxiety about everything, but at it’s core it is simply an absence.

So the question becomes… how to handle the beast in me? Is my dissolution inevitable? This seems a mundane question because so many of us cursed with consciousness feel the same… and yet we all feel it individually. And I’m not sure of where to apply pressure and where to try to absolve myself. This nothingness is real.

Lately in a moment, in the mirror, I am able to see myself as viable… attractive even. But then when I’m in a therapy situation … it all falls apart. Right now I’m all sorts of apart. The beast is winning. I find it difficult to take up space in my own life. And Thom seems ambivalent about me… which shouldn’t matter like it does but the Beast has weakened my sense of self and left me vulnerable to attack. If he doesn’t care… then how can I care?

And yet I’m still up and moving. I get dressed everyday and smile at young people and animals. I look up and find beauty. (I also find hidden places for my secret indulgences and then castigate myself afterwards and make plans to stop.) I carry some small hope that I might tame this beast. I haven’t yet quit trying.

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That Good Old Way

Click Photo to Download.

As much as I don’t enjoy church, I love the music you can find within. Here’s some of my favorites.

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Click Photo to download.

Emotions and Music. Personal. Potentially Magical. Enjoy.

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Woke up early. Settled my emotions. Accomplished everything on my to do list including car maintenance, hair cut, just a few glasses of wine, and cleaning up. Had a good conversation. A nice trip with Thom to the airport for our global entry interview. Day one of summer break and I’m feeling relaxed and happy. Still worried about my liver health. Anxious about my personal trainer tomorrow. But not sad to lay down and looking forward to waking up. 

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The beginning of this year, January 1st to be exact, I got some acute illness and spent the day vomiting and laying in bed. On that day, I didn’t have a drink.

Now over 6 months later, I have achieved just one more day without a drop of alcohol. Today. It seems small, and easily undone, but at some point you have to start and be successful and then just continue to do that same thing every day hereafter.

I don’t know my end goal, but I want to make sure I’m not killing my liver, cholesterol levels, and heart. And I want to put my life together after all the stress and strife that has overcome me and nearly destroyed my 16 year-old relationship with Thom.

I want to find happiness in the moments that fill up my days. Sometimes there are too many moments, and they are painfully present. Other days I blink and they are gone. In the past there was usually an empty glass in my hand. Now I hope to hold my own potential instead.

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Last Thursday afternoon, after a year + of anxiety, stress, arguing, counseling, denial, and drinking…. Thom finally confessed to his infidelity. And what a confession: using slight of hand to have me focused on one man, he’d actually also been doing much worse with another. Both were friends. The one Thom had been fucking in total secret was a close friend. It was a painful weekend, but in a way it was so oddly relaxing. 

Finally, we can talk and he can’t make me feel like I’m crazy. Finally, there is some no-holds-barred honesty. Finally, though oddly placed, there was some intense connection and love. Finally,  I’ve been able to release all my pain I’ve been carrying for so long. 

I have no idea where this leaves me or what happens now. I have to deal with how badly I’ve been treated and if my love can outshine that treatment. I have to try and get healthy after so much stress and alcohol. Thom and I must try and rebuild a whole new relationship if that’s what we decide. I have to let myself feel it all. 

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