Yesterday was James Baldwin’s birthday- an author whose words always leave me in awe. So today I reflected on one of his quotes, “To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.”
So in the past few weeks I have been really diligently trying to be mindful so I don’t return to my past harmful ways of thought. It means having to be truly insightful, and honest of my past behaviors- especially the selfish ones that came from fear. It meant embracing the fact I hadn’t truly been pushing myself for being stagnant is oh so comfortable. It’s realizing I feared failure more than I desired success. It meant looking in the mirror and deciding I was not going to let my old ways of thought bury my future happiness . And it meant learning past failures are key for they unlock the skills for future joy. And most importantly it meant sacrificing immediate happiness and comfort to experience the discomfort of growth. Which I exemplified by not pursuing a relationship with a truly beautiful girl because you realize lust is not a foundation you build relationships on. That looking outside for validation only ruins yourself and the other soul’s ability for connection, and ultimate growth. That two boats letting in water don’t fix each other’s holes- and in the end it just leads to two people drowning even quicker. Each an anchor preventing one another from reaching the shore ahead.
So Instead of drowning in past failures I am actively learning from them. Some days I still want to drink, and instead of simply running with the thought and mindlessly allowing for it to occur; I now challenge it. Realizing that maybe that thought is occurring from a lack of connection with others; my own loneliness gutting through my belly causing such feelings of emptiness. Maybe it’s the routine of the past, and a desire for a return to turbulence out of the current tranquil waters I swim in now. Maybe it’s just my brain firing on old pathways I haven’t successfully rewired yet. Either way the only thing I know for certain is today those pathways have a big ass detour sign in front of them blocking those shortcuts of sabotage.
For I agree with Baldwin that our past always shapes us, but it never defines us. With our first morning breath we choose which path we will follow today. Our footing as solid, or perilous as we wish for rock solid foundations are only built with time and effort. Each day I am putting in the effort to reshape my future. Each night knowing my past has helped guide the way to this current future. And each day struggling towards a better tomorrow.
The last couple posts I been talking about failure a lot, and one thing I am glad I failed at was committing suicide. I am not going to lie, I kinda half assed it. I didn’t follow any of the the Gravediggaz advice from “1-800-Suicide.”
I didn’t run to the zoo and lock myself in a lion’s den, didn’t confront an alligator and let it eat me raw, or even just hang myself with a fucking barbed wire. Nor did I even follow the plan I had thought of before. To be honest it just kinda happened- it was very passive. I just got to the point where I didn’t want to feel, and didn’t care if that meant not waking up the next day. It started with mixing Ativan and a pint of vodka. That combo proved too weak- it just left me feeling sober. My existence was still on fire- my skin a vampire in the sun. So I added a big bottle of wine to the mix. And still nothing. My brain was still firing missiles in all directions; a kamikaze bombing of my consciousness creating a maze out of doubt, fear, and self-hatred. I was blinded, lost, and just wanted out so next I found an almost full bottle of gabapentin and those easily found their way down my neck into my belly. And finally a handful of sleeping pills to blot out the rest of my existence. Then I found the peace of my bed. I laid down and enjoyed the high I was finally feeling. I had no fear left. I was weirdly at peace that maybe the next morning I wouldn’t wake up; a feeling I wish to never have ever again. The morning did come and I was grateful as hell to see that sun. You see I don’t want to die, and I sure as hell don’t want to live in a world of numbness. My brain loves to trick me into that existence, but today I fight it with the guerrilla warfare that is mindfulness. It is with ruthless aggression I fight for my existence. I am dropping nuclear bombs on the tricks my mind uses to play on me, and embracing the love that surrounds me. Today I want to fucking live, and that feels pretty damn good.
My brain is still a bit foggy like the grave mist of dawn in a land of ghouls. But writing keeps me sober so I type these SOSs to the world. Failure keeps you hungry and hopeful. And I have failed enough to remain hopeful as fuck. I am grateful for failure. It’s how I learn. It’s why I have this chip on my shoulder because I don’t think anybody truly believes I will stay sober- that July 15th will just be another day- just another broken resolution. That my resolve will falter, and my belly will once again surrender to the swill of liquor cascading into its center. But I have a feeling this time you will be wrong. And what’s different is hard to explain- that feeling deep inside your gut can’t always be explained. But when you feel it you know it. And today I feel it. Today I know it. And tomorrow I will keep on showing it. Because these SOSs of heartbreak might not mean that much to many, but at least they get me through the day. And each day that mist will feel further away. And each day my vision will get clearer. And each day that ghoul that clutches on my soul will get easier to push away. For embracing failure gives you a power you never knew existed inside you for it takes away the control that fear has over you. And without fear on your back you can achieve anything you want. And even if you fail at least you learned the next time what not to do. And through that failure you learn most importantly what you need to do. For heartbreak and surrender are the only true path to real love. Be that a love for oneself or another.
My dear readers you can rejoice for I have returned. I apologize for the delay but my brain’s been a bit foggy these days. The words scattered in my skull; my thoughts a jigsaw puzzle floating through outer space as I desperately fly to each piece to sort them together. The aftermath of my last post led to a stay in the hospital where I came off a cocktail of 8 meds to a new lean new two piece of a mood stabilizer with a shot of antidepressant. So far I feel decent- not too high, not too low. So of course for me that means I feel uncomfortable. It’s funny how we get so comfortable in those undesirable emotions such as turmoil, depression, fear, or pain. Those feelings are like a warm blanket to me compared to contentment, and well just the fucking normalcy of the day. I also hadn’t been able to write so I thought I would cure it with a drink. I figured the drink would spark everything back and break me out of the void I had falling into. In reality it was just my brain tricking me into a return to an old comfortable feeling- the numbness and escape that first sip brings. The fleeting myth you chase every time you succumb to your poison. So I embedded myself into the alcohol, like a journalist in a war town country to a squadron, and gave in and drank. And of course James Baldwin did not enter my soul and come out through words on my paper. In fact the only words that did were lies to myself and others. The lie that alcohol can somehow make me whole- while in reality it’s just making the hole inside me even bigger. The hole of self doubt, hatred, insecurity, and fear. The hole you fall into where lies become the safety net. The hole you know you will eventually be buried in if you keep down the path that the drink wants from you. And a hole dug so deep I didn’t want to tell anyone I had fallen into it again. So I just pretended it didn’t happen, and let the halo on top of my head fashion into a noose. That noose got so tight I needed a drink to loosen it- and since I hadn’t shared my shameful secret from the night before the alcohol slipped right in like a Viking from the shore. His battle-axe a pint of vodka to my heart. I know my defense now is just being honest. Being vulnerable letting everyone know I failed another alcohol test. I gave in like a chump. But through failure comes knowledge. A loss is the best way to learn how to win. So I woke up early determined to write words. To prove to myself I don’t need alcohol to write. To prove to myself I don’t need alcohol to live. And to prove to myself finally I don’t need alcohol to survive. So today, July 15th, I declare my goddamn independence from that demon alcohol. And already I feel that noose loosening from my neck as the sun gently rises on a new day ahead, and I embrace this new journey where getting really fucking uncomfortable is going to be me striving for my new norm.
Saturday my mind played one of the greatest tricks on me yet. It’s terrifying what lengths it will go to give me an excuse to drink. I was doing my morning meditation which was a focused hypnosis on clearing subconscious negativity. However, I allowed it to imprint a false so-called repressed memory to throw off my whole balance and well-being. As soon as I latched onto this awful thought it became for that moment real, and the only way to get rid of it was to drink it away. My brain was a terrorist who hijacked my common sense, and knocked down my defense system as easily as if it was a tall tower in the N.Y. skyline.
What followed was a drunken stupor of a maze of falsehoods that I tangled myself up in as if it was a comforting cloak of barbwire. Fallacy turning into fact. Hope trampled beneath granite boulders busting my spine. Leaving me paralyzed in thought with hopes there was a dagger resting on my heart. Or an ice pick to silence my brain. Luckily neither was close by.
I wonder how long I am going to stay on this path of reacting and writing versus writing then reacting. There is a big difference between knowing and understanding. Knowing means you can decipher the proper course of action for prevention. Understanding means that a course of action is in use prior to stop the maladaptive behavior before it occurs. It’s why some of the smartest people in the world can be so goddamn dumb sometimes.
This distorted logic is like seeing a chess board two steps ahead of your opponent, but moving your pieces one step behind. It’s ludicrous yet I do it; staying a pawn instead of the goddamn queen. It’s not fate because my own actions cause it to occur. My mind might be playing tricks on me, but I am supplying the ammo to make sure the shots stick. A country rube in a world full of carnies. Allowing myself to be conned every step of the way.
I have a problem with being honest. Not on this blog for it seems the one place I do get honest; but in terms of my abuse of alcohol to cover up for many things I struggle with, and the fear I foist upon myself. From last Thursday to Monday night I couldn’t even tell you how many lies I had to tell myself and others. Those lies bottled up inside me like delicate tiny ships forcing my soul to walk the plank plunging to the cold waves to drift forever away. In these times the lava of self-hatred washes over me, and I can’t remember the last time drinking even was fun. All it is a momentary reprieve into hollowness, like a diseased tree tucked away in a forest of purgatory.
The funny thing is being honest feels better than being drunk. I don’t know why I don’t chase that feeling more than the numbness that lying provides me. Mindfullness helps in honesty because if you are totally in the moment you can’t be trying to scam the future. For a lie is just a momentary reprieve against the consequences of actions that violate your code. And like the wise man Omar said before me,
Even as I write this a twinge of the thought of drinking arises. My brain distorting those memories of truth I know deep in my marrow. It’s the anxiety of living that scares me today. For an unspoken desire soon twists me into liar, and that is not world I want to inhabit again.
Monday night was brutal. I was at true lost; I finally succumbed that I had lost the ability to be truly honest with myself. I had once again invited in the poison that is the numbness of alcohol, and my brain was debating whether it was a wise choice to end it all. I woke up Tuesday angry. A righteous anger at myself for not doing enough to get myself out of this situation. Yes I suffer from severe depression, alcohol abuse, and mood swings, but I wasn’t even getting out of the corner to box it anymore. I had a game plan in place, but I was abandoning it as soon as I got hit. And when I felt good I wasn’t doing enough reps to maintain it. I was the boxer who got fat and lazy after his first championship, and didn’t train hard enough for his next defense. I don’t want momentary wins anymore- I want to put a full nelson on success. Gripping it as tight as possible as it tries to struggle out of my grasp. So to do this I have developed a stringent new routine for the summer. Simple ideas that have created success for me in the past, and a rugged routine to keep me focused and not swimming in the Dead Sea of emotions in my mind. This will be my bootcamp for the summer, and if anyone sees me slacking call me the hell out on it.
First thing I am doing is remixing the Miracle Morning(use the google machine to look it up.) Basically the premise of the book is to start each morning off with a six pack of mindful activities. So today I put this plan in action. I first woke up and immediately picked up a pen and in my journal wrote ten things I was grateful for. Gratitude lists are the foreign object I like to punch my depression in the face with. It immediately always knocks them back because it forces the power of positivity to the forefront. I feel if I start everyday with a sucker punch to negativity my brain will thank me.
Next is mediation. I used to meditate first thing in the morning in my bed, but now I lie on the floor. It changes my perspective, and signals to my brain the day is beginning. Mediation is a way to calm and workout my brain. I am trying to create new pathways to positive and productive thinking. This eventually leads to my brain’s ability to be more abstract and elastic to complex thinking of consequences and long-term rewards, rather than the monkey brain desiring immediate pleasure.
Next we get to affirmations. Those reps for achieving your goals. Self sabotage has always been an Achilles heel in my life. It stems from a combination of self loathing, fear, and loss of confidence. To counteract those bullshit voices in my head that fear success I combat them with simple phrases that push forward my goals in life, and mental health. It’s definitely corny as hell, but truly effective. Sometimes I just need to remind myself that I love myself, I will write my book, and I will fight forever.
After that we get good ol’ fashioned prayer. Now prayer to me has nothing to do with organized religion, but rather setting out intentions into the big blue sky above me asking for help, and promising to take that aid and use it to assist others in need. By praying it makes these desires and intentions real to my world. For this I humble myself on my knees each day, and ask simply to become a better human being.
Now we get active with some exercise. That way we get the dopamine up and running before we start our day. That little boost is the coffee my body needs. Today I did some push-ups, and tomorrow will be a quick ten minute yoga session with my home girl Adrienne. I like doing ten minutes because it gets a little kick of adrenaline in, and it’s just a warm up for the exercise I will be doing later today.
And finally I make the bed, and read. Making the bed is always important because it gives you a sense of accomplishment that is simple and easy to do. It corrects one potential messy thing in order to kickstart your day to accomplish overcoming the obstacles that will face you in your day ahead. Reading comes at the end as a quick way to wind down and get focused for the day. I like reading at the end as a way to bookend my last activity of the night of reading before I zoom to the slumber of the stars.
Boom the first hour of my day is complete, and I already feel energized and ready to go. A half hour later from 9-12 I am in IOP connecting, sharing, and empathizing with others; all why reviewing and building up my skills of combat against negative and destructive thinking. Then I take an hour to decompress and eat lunch.
From there I will dedicate 1-3 daily to write whether I want to or not. This post itself is being written during that time. I been searching for what the fuck purpose do I have right now, and decided that all signs lead to writing a book so I am going to put the bullshit aside and go with it. I think the fear has always been in the way, and feeling pretentious for saying that’s what I am working on, or is my goal in life. But fuck that I am a damn good writer with a story to tell, and I might as well go all in while I have the time. And this ain’t going to be no self-published vanity book either because I am shooting for whatever fictional planet Space Jam was on.
From 4-6 will be my exercise time- get my Keith Sweat on. That way I can be as much as hunk as he was to the ladies.
Exercise also comes with my lifestyle of good food choices cause you are going to need both for success. Around 7 or 8 I will have my accountability call with a friend. It’s a way for myself to stay accountable, honest, connect with a human, and learn to reach out early before it’s too late. And finally before slumber I get to educate my eye lids with some words in a book.
So my loyal readers if you are wondering what I am doing all day now you know. A bootcamp for my non-disciplined, lazy ass to finally get back into fighting shape. After awhile you just get sick of being knocked down all the time, and you realize instead of complaining or drowning in excuses you just need to punch that motherfucker right back in the mouth knowing both sides are going to bleed, but that you damn sure know you ain’t going to end up on your back anymore.