Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Inventory and Wishes

I have been on occasion full of self-pitying regret that I never had a wife, children, and a five-bedroom house in Barnes. Usually when I was drunk or hungover. Like any young man, in my twenties, I felt the pain of waking up alone again and hungover on Sunday morning, and thought I was weak, useless and failing, failing failing, because I hadn't pulled Saturday night. I never had an affable, easy social life and a commercially-valuable network of acquaintances. I could never "commit". When I was sober and nothing was going wrong at work, I didn't feel those things. Since I was hungover and depressed a lot, I spent many years wishing I was leading another life, and indeed was a different person. Of course I did: I was in psychological pain and I needed a way out and I thought that was it. There is no right way out of that kind of pain: just different ways that leave differing residual aches and have differing costs. 

I stumbled onto Twelve-Step Recovery, and that worked for the alcohol-related stuff. It took me a long time to embrace my inner ACoA, and a while after that to accept that some of the damage is irreparable: I was okay that as a drunk I couldn't drink again, and would get bored around drinkers pretty quickly; I was less willing to get that an ACoA can't do intimacy, fun and all that other Normal stuff, and that attempts to do so lead to irritation, boredom or toxic shock. You can see us in the crowd during any fire drill: everyone else is talking in groups, while we are zoned out, surrounded by totally alien behaviour. At some point I must have accepted my condition - at which point, of course, it stops being "my condition" and becomes "me". What me?

I'm still employed, and I work with a bunch of smart young people who keep me sharp. I do a combination of weight training, spinning, running, swimming and yoga every week. My blood-sugar, blood-pressure, pulse and general physical condition is top five percent for my age. I'm still learning new stuff at my day job, and reading hefty tomes of philosophy and mathematics for stimulation. I cook my own food, clean my own house, iron my own shirts and run my own affairs. 

I have no pension worth a damn, and I've been through some nasty periods of unemployment. I'm a recovering alcoholic - but you're the one with the hangovers. I'm an ACoA, and so I don't have to get bent out of shape about "not being intimate" or "sharing my life" with anyone, because that is toxic for me. My testosterone levels are down from when I used to look at girls and think they were magic, so now when I look at women most of them look like more work than they may be worth.

I have a little bit in common with a lot of people, which means I can make light social conversation with a lot of people. I do not have enough in common with anyone to make them want to go any further. I steer clear of screw-ups, and sensible people steer clear of me, so I don't actually hang out with anybody except a couple of people from my distant past.

So much for the inventory.

What am I really missing? I could list all sorts of things here, from the virtuous (intimacy, friends) to the slightly silly (fame, wealth, beautiful lovers), but you and I know I would be lying. We know what I'm really missing.

I'm missing getting high, whether it's on sex, booze, conversation, music, scenic panoramas, art or anything else that does the trick. The Rules say I can't get high any more, that I have to find satisfaction through service, being a "worker amongst workers" and all that good stuff. I'm missing the sick emotions that come with fake drama (real drama isn't accompanied by emotions, but adrenaline and action). The Rules say I can't do that any more either and I follow them because those emotions are caused by crazy people and I don't want those in my life any more. 

What would I like? I mean, aside from a flat in Soho, the Marais and the Centre of Amsterdam? And the work that paid enough to support all that. And being able to speak French and Dutch. So there's that fantasy.

What I don't want to feel "content". I don't want to feel "at peace with myself". I don't want to be "comfortable in my own skin". Those are not real emotions, but absences. Spiritual Vallium. I'm not allowed mood-altering chemicals.

I'd like one day I didn't have to invent from zero, that wasn't made up of to-do tasks, that I didn't feel was in some deep sense optional. I'd like to wake up feeling rested, and go to bed feeling tired. I'd like to feel sated after a meal and calm enough to be able to read for a couple of hours without breaking off to clean something or make a snack. I'd like to feel that there wasn't always something I have to do next and somewhere I have to be after here. I'd like to feel that it was more than nice meeting you, and that we might meet again. I'd like to be able to point to something and say "I did that". 

So that's what I have to make come true.

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