Just to Ramble


You asked, “Will I ever feel normal?”
I don’t think I know what normal means. I know wanting to feel good is normal. So is wanting to be happy and have a good time. But the hole we dug for ourselves went too deep.
Maybe we should have left a trail so we knew which way was out, but in the spoils of our excess, we lost our way and the idea of becoming clean was too much.
I suppose we went too far, and rather than turn back, we dug the hole deeper and hoped things would get better.


What started as an idea to break the boredom, turned into a routine, and the routine grew from one level to the next.
My routine started when I was kid. I sipped from The Old Man’s beer and swiped a taste of his vodka gimlets. It was funny. It was a good time. People laugh when they drink. They feel good, right?
I liked the rebellion that came with it. I liked doing what I wasn’t supposed to do because it gave me a glimpse of control over things like feeling awkward or the common insecurities of being a skinny little kid.

My first real drink was not what I expected. In fact, it was more tragic than successful. I drank vermouth. I did not pick the green bottle from my father’s liquor cabinet because the label was pretty. I chose the bottle because it looked ignored and The Old Man would never notice. I certainly did not choose it for the taste. I had no idea what vermouth was, let alone what it mixed with.
I figured alcohol is alcohol, and the green bottle would be as good as any other in the cabinet.


After moving passed the flavor and the hard sting as the shot poured down my throat, I felt a quick minute of satisfaction, as if I discovered a new sort of freedom. I suddenly came into the knowledge of what alcohol does, and as clearly as I can remember…..I think I enjoyed 15 minutes before the room turned horribly wrong.
That’s when the world began to spin. I leaned my hand against the wall and hoped the floor would stop moving beneath me.
Of any picture or movie I had seen in my youth, my version of drinking was not the same as my experience.
I thought drinking was supposed to feel good. I imagined tall glasses with tiny umbrellas peeking from a slice of pineapple, or maybe an orange.
I thought about amber colored liquors splashing over cubes of ice. I thought about girls and parties, and as I became aware of what drinking really does, I thought I was going to die as I vomited the contents of my stomach into a toilet.

“I must have done it wrong,” I thought.
If drinking was so popular, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, I must have done it wrong.
I hated the taste. I enjoyed the first few minutes, but when the room turned against me, I hated the aftermath.
In times like that, my only redemption was the cold feel from the porcelain toilet against my head.

Wanting to fit seems normal to me. Wanting to laugh and forget my troubles sounds normal as well. I wanted to unwind. I wanted to feel wild.
And if one sip feels good, then two should feel better. If I did something wrong, then let me do it again until I do it right.

The same could be said about my relationship with cigarettes.
Cigarettes have no redeeming quality. They leave your clothes and your breath smelling awful. They make you cough, and in the beginning, I recall feeling dizzy and nauseous. But this is what people do, right?
So there must be something “normal” about it.
Or was it just the rebellion? Was it just that small piece of control I took back?

I went to great lengths to feel normal. After drinking, I found marijuana. This was the next level for me. Many insist marijuana is a gateway drug. I suggest it is no more a gateway than beer, wine, or anything else in the liquor cabinet. However, the legal aspect added glimmer to its rebellion. Having my eyes bloodshot and half-closed, as well as a constant smile sounded like a good idea.

I felt happy……..I also felt paranoid, but then something funny would happen and I forgot why I was paranoid.
And if marijuana is good, then hash must be better. Then, of course, if hash is what everyone says it is, then add liquor and the party could begin.
And yes, I was that kid….
I was that scrawny, longhaired, scraggly kid standing in front of 7-11 or the MAB Liquor store on Front Street asking, “Excuse me mister?” and trying to get someone buy me a bottle


Your question was, “Will I ever feel normal?”

After the ideas to break the boredom changed from weekends to an everyday routine, and the levels degraded from lower to deeper, I turned around as if I blinked and everything collapsed behind me.
The chemicals changed and the highs became so intense.
I lost my way, same as you did. The laughter stopped. Suddenly, the old jokes were no longer funny.
The crowd split up.
Friends went to jail and some died. I went away too, and this is what saved me.

Had I not been removed from my environment, I think I would have been as lost today as I was then. And though I am better, I still have the dreams. I still come across the old smells and I still recall the haunting memories.

I am sober more than 22 years and I still wipe my fingerprints of the things I touch.
(This is more subconscious, and possibly obsessive compulsive, but it still shows where I came from)

I want to feel normal too but my mind competes with a beast that always whispers.
I have grown in my sobriety, but the beast and I still speak. Over the years, the beast has become less fierce and some of the demons have faded away.

I suppose this is normal now.
Or maybe this is just normal for me.

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