Day 2


Last night, a Zoom call with friends followed by predictable hours watching television, reading, smoking on the porch, until too exhausted to crave alcohol. Tylenol PM assists me here, and I feel I’m on a boat, finally, floating toward a thrall of heavy sleep and sweat for no more than four hours. My dreams induce paranoia and betray longings I’ve ignored twenty years. Last night, John McWhorter kissed me on the cheek and forehead like a reassuring father. Then, I lost him trying to follow him to class.
My body feels wracked. This morning, day two of what should have been eighteen, my spine tingles and neck creaks and the left side of my body wants to snap like a too-tight guitar string. Plucked and fraying. My body’s left side has always been a problem, but now that I’ve incorporated exercise into my daily routine of distraction, it’s gotten worse. And I’m grinding my teeth, clenching my jaw in figure eights of constant panic.
This went noticed last night over Zoom. Listening to a friend’s story of love experienced on MDMA, I couldn’t stop this tension and release, tension and release. For no reason. One of only two friends on the call who knew the extent of my alcohol abuse (admitted to her over a teary phone call—I used to drunk dial, now I sober dial)—she, accidental bully, spotted my anxious tell and called it out. I resented her immediately but tried to brush that aside telling a story of my own about MDMA. The last time I tried it. Took half a pill, a not-so-pure pill, and went out drinking on my own. Woke up with vomit on my pillow, prepared to endure a five-day hangover. I left out the part where I tried that night, at 26, to take home a 50-year-old woman, about how I hit on her clumsily, fervidly, and hurled abusive insults at her date about how fat he was, and what was she doing with him? How embarrassing! Sweating insults there in the booth, with my vulgar red face. Also left out vomiting in a dumpster on my way home, resting beside it a moment to gain strength enough to walk again.
My mind is dim lately, but images like this bubble from its morass. Images and phrases tied to nothing, in dreams and in bleary waking hours. All dehydrated by shame, no luster, no comedy, no lesson. Just stupid vignettes. A PC slammed shut, broken by a childish insistence my fiancee not interrupt my thoughts. A mason jar slammed against my forehead because my drunk girlfriend would not move from the center of our bed. A closet door torn from hinges, also cracked against my idiot skull because of some frustration, likely born of writing, or my inability to manage the stress of a play produced with my byline. Various acts of psychological abuse I can’t seem to dredge up here and now. I could never manage me. People loved me and I hated them back because I recognized they could get along just fine, probably better, without me.
To help myself now, I read. That was this morning’s penury. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I should read more difficult books, but I need forty, sixty days to clear a heavy fog. So my therapist says. He’s loose with numbers. I’d made it to eleven days following his admonition to make it 10 to begin feeling better. Telling him this, he responded how could I! I was so close to that 12 day mark! These fucking marks. Do they matter? Do days matter? Isn’t it one day at a time? Win this game, the coach’s bromide.
Close to finished with The Road I smoked and walked the dog, furiously. Poor chihuahua-terrier. Barely kept pace. I must be abusing him. He could have had a better life. I should apply for work. Work out. I should eat. Pay some bills. Clean something. These and other topics will surface in later posts. This afternoon, I’ll edit the above so I don’t come off too tetchy and irritable.
Day two is my therapist’s mark. I mark time by hours, sometimes minutes.

From the morass

“An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;”
—Philip Larkin

“Work has to be done.”
—Philip Larkin

“…the colorless Horatio, the bully boy Fortinbras, and the fop Osric…”
—Harold Bloom

“…low-IQ panic.”
—Martin Amis

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