Five years ago today was the last time the lights went out. That was the day I hit the bottom of my black hole. April 25, 2006. I had been falling for awhile but that day I went into a free fall.
I got up that morning and went to a spin class at the gym. I needed something to make me feel better. Since I had gotten clean and sober six years earlier, I could no longer self medicate with a bottle of chardonnay or a joint. Instead, I used endorphins.
I got on my bike at 6 am. I pedaled hard. My lips flapped like a racehorse exhaling hard. Sweat dripped from my nose and foam formed in the corners of my mouth. Nothing. Faster. Harder. Faster. Harder. Nothing. No endorphins. My legs wobbled when I got off the bike. No endorphins. No rush. No nothing.
I went home, showered, changed and got ready for work. I walked through the lobby of the newspaper where I work and felt completely disconnected from my body. It was like I was watching myself. I sat at my desk and that’s when the lights went out. I don’t remember if I was crying but I left. Game over. Sayanara. Lights out.
Among my many dubious talents is my breathtaking ability to screw up a relationship. Few girlfriends/fiances/wives have my innate sense of bad timing, poor taste and raging co-dependency. Seriously. Give me a medal or something.
I have married and divorced twice. The good news is that I got a daughter out of one of the marriages and I handled both my divorces pro se, saving me and my exes thousands and thousands of dollars – although I don’t think they looked at it that way.
It’s not that I don’t like commitment or falling into the toilet because someone left the seat up. I just don’t know how to do relationships. I could blame my co-dependent mother, alcoholic father, bipolar or alcoholism. Might as well blame the nuns and my camp counselors, too. When I’m done with all the blaming I am left with this undisputed fact: I suck at relationships.
Perhaps my picker is broken or there is some freaky magnetic force emanating from incompatible men. I am especially attracted to alcoholics and addicts. You could do a line-up with a dozen guys and without any of them uttering a word, I can pick out the alcoholic/addict among the bunch. He is the only guy I am attracted to. I have no interest in the others no matter now much money or good looks they have. It’s weird.
I don’t know if it is because “likes” attract: I am an alcoholic and subliminally I want to be around alcohol so I pick an alcoholic. But I have no doubt that alcoholism, sprinkled with a healthy dose of depression, are not attractive characteristics in a woman. Throw in some wrinkles and gray hair and you’ve got a real peach!
Good Lord, what have I come to? I spent Sunday night toggling back and forth between writing this blog and TMZ’s live minute by minute web feeds from Charlie Sheen’s show at Radio City Hall in New York City.
What is WRONG with me?
Every time I think of Sheen with that smug look on his face I think of his father, Martin Sheen, and brother, Emilio Estevez. I saw one brief interview with them. Martin Sheen talked about how his son, Charlie, is sick and we must treat him like a person who is sick, as though he has cancer. Emilio said nothing.
This must sound crazy to someone who has never loved an addict or alcoholic and sought help in a 12-Step program. It is in these programs that alcoholism and addiction are presented as illnesses:
“An illness of this sort – and we have come to believe it an illness – involves those about us in a way no other human illness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry or hurt. But no so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all things worth while in life.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 2)
I take responsibility for managing my depression and sobriety. Yes, I take meds. Yes, I go to 12-Step meetings. Yes, to therapy, getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising blah, blah, blah.
But seriously, it really comes down to honestly answering one question: Is what I am doing right now bringing me closer or further from a depression and a drink? Going to a sports bar and watching Michigan’s football team get clobbered by Penn State – again, is going to bring me closer to a drink. Not taking my meds is going to bring me closer to a depression. Listening to Sarah McLaughlin and pawing through old photos after I break up with a guy is going to bring me closer to both.