Written in February 2016
When I walked out of her office, I felt cheap. I felt like Paula Dean disguised in a police outfit in Ferguson. She could see right through me. My therapist friend tells me all therapists use the infamous abacus sex rule when you tell them how much you drink. “If you told her 2 or 3 drinks a night, she multiplied it by three.” She knows.
I can’t do this without the Cabo Wabo. Yes, you can. You can quit anytime. But, I don’t know anyone who could trust a man who doesn’t trust himself with a beer in his hand. I’m good dude. I set limits. No drinking until after 8:00 pm. I can drink, write, sob, and sleep. Pssst. It’s alright if you start at 5:00 pm if you need to.
I feel irritable by the bombardment of questions. “Do you consider yourself an alcoholic?…How much do you normally drink?…You will know if you are having a withdrawal,” she informs me.
Liquid cranium ball-sack release. That’s much better. The sobbing comes easier and the pain doesn’t hurt as much. The tension is held in my shoulders and runs down to the core of my spine. My body will still seize as I write, but it’s less noticeable with alcohol. I remember each smell and sight, and especially the old flower pattern shapes on the couch. There’s an enormous scale of smallness the apartment represents in my mind, and there’s not even a curtain – just a white shade. It was sunny until it wasn’t. Until he would pull the white shade down.
I’ve been drinking more. I’ve sort of been on a divorce bender. I don’t think I’m an alcoholic, but I have been drinking more. I haven’t gone through withdrawals or anything when I do stop. Idiot. Numbskull. Stopping for 12 hours isn’t stopping. Well technically it is. If I stopped at a stop sign for 12 hours, wouldn’t that be considered a stop? I’m sure someone would shout, “Why are you fuckin stopped there?!”
Withdrawal is only for harder drugs. I’m not going to have a fuckin withdrawal, are you serious? Regardless, you’re the victim here, and you need to write, to heal. That’s what the professionals say. Who am I to argue? That’s not a question Obi-Wan Ollie Salami, that’s a fact. It’s your damn divorce bender.
Why do you feel comfortable enough to tell her about other intimacies, but you lie about the drinking? I didn’t really lie, I just, well, I reduced it. I’m the fuckin victim here, and it’s only been since April. Hey fucktard, you’re lying. You know when it started. In 2012 when I started writing Fuck.docx, shit, I was 15 or 16. Fine 15. Yeah, you tried to kill yourself. Why? I don’t know. An Ali-phant never forgets Mr. Salami. I don’t-well, maybe-I don’t know. Well, maybe it’s because when you drink you find that all of those memories surface more easily. It’s your Davy Jones Locker release gauge. C’mon you fur-burger get it all out.
I started drinking at age 15. Drinking would either get me depressed or infuriated. Anger aimed in no particular direction, unfiltered and without a clue, with tension ending, attention pending. In the later years, when I turned 21, I would drink about one night a week, but I always drank too much. The kind of blackout drunk who wouldn’t blink at “I dare you.” When my children were born, I worked too hard and too long at work for the drinking to be a recurring issue. I had a career and children for a distraction, for the most part. But whenever I would drink, it wasn’t for social fun. It was a liquid heroine to subside the pain.
When did I start drinking heavily, again? Was it 2012 when the writing started? Or was it 2009/2010 when I took on the responsibility of caring for my little brother? More importantly, when did you forget?
My entire body is clammy, sweat has drenched through the lower arch of my back and is absorbed into two layers of shirts. As my legs tremble and quiver, I continue telling myself lies but my body keeps reacting the way it does. It’s clear analytics. As I chop up vegetables for a salad, my hands tremble so much I have to stop and take a break. My headache rages as a constant throb. I have no appetite and I feel nauseous. It’s only 24 hours in. My legs have a constant shudder to them, a constant rumbling. My fuckin head is pounding and I want a Bloody Mary on my tongue. I need coffee. It takes every ounce of self-control to resist turning into the liquor store on the way there.
What the fuck. Fuck this man. You’re not reliant on it. You can stop any time. Does it have to be today? It’s not even Sunday, and this is one of those Sunday evening commitments for Monday. I don’t have to do this today. I swear to God I’m going to buy Cabo Wabo and maybe a bottle of Tito’s, and just stare them down to prove I’m fine. We’ll just stand there staring at the Volleyball like Tom Hanks. We won’t play with it I promise.
When I started reaching for the memories jammed down in my Freeze-Tag “safe,” when I started writing Fuck.docx, the Martini’s had never gone down easier. Depression and vodka, mmm, perfect combination. I always kept little rules, addendums to my own perception of what makes up the tangible alcoholic, versus the “for realz” alcoholic. I had a notion that since I’m not drinking 40’s out of a brown paper bag it wasn’t serious yet.
You know the family history: grandfather, grandmother, mother, sister, sperm donor…all drinkers. Anytime you saw Grandpa, he had a beer in his hand. My Mother wakes up at 3 am to get a refill of boxed wine after sleeping for three hours. Yeah, I know; THAT’s an alcoholic dude. And sis is getting picked up by the cops again. She’s the alcoholic. At least I stay in and write when I’m drinking. I only started drinking heavily again when the divorce started. I had quit for 3 months. Alcoholics don’t quit quarterly. They can’t. I’m good, dude. I’m not an alcoholic…yeah we’re fuckin addicts.
The entire family, addicts. Addicts for victimization. Addicts for repeatedly telling ourselves we’re unlovable. An addict for anything that somehow masks the pain shoved down into my digital safe. Can it be safe if we never felt safe? May I please get an upgrade? My brain is running on Windows 3.11 for socially awkward Workgroups. May I please be upgraded to Metro Tiles, or at least Windows Seven heaven? Is my CPU sufficient enough for the upgrade?
I’m going on 72 hours. I feel like everything is purposely trying to break or irritate me. I’ve given myself every excuse over these long hours to validate why I deserve a drink. Fuck. My oldest sister had another outburst last week. East Hartford cops and all, apparently. Again. Fuck.
You have always known they’re all screwed up. You’ve known that your entire life. What’s going to be any different today? Grab a cocktail man. Your familia is fucked up. You can’t pick your familia, but you can pick your Tequilla.
Another text message a day later, but this time it’s not in regards to my eldest sister. Someone is notifying me, via text, informing me my youngest sister had an outburst and fled like Mississippi Burning with nephew and baby daddy headed to California. “They just left without saying goodbye to anyone.” I barely flinch when hearing news like this now. Nothing in my family surprises me anymore. “She has some serious anger issues. Is she bipolar?” No. Cali’s got gunplay, models on the runway, scream Sissy Sissy gimme one more chance…
Isn’t everyone bipolar when they drink? Haven’t we all seen it? You’re chilling with the quiet intelligent colleague, and it strikes. You’re out for a Happy Hour with a bunch of people, and they’ve had some wine. Boom. All of a sudden there’s your colleague out there on the dance floor grinding and making out with random women, laying on the pool table in a bar, spread-eagle, giggling. Wait did you just pull down your pants in the parking lot? The notoriously conservative colleague has now turned into a public pee-flinging German porn star.
The flutters haven’t subsided. It’s day four and my entire body feels lethargic. I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend. Actually it’s an emptier feeling of loneliness which in itself is quite pathetic. Usually, I can write within a day and publish. This is taking forever. I’m furious. I’m sad. I’m disappointed. I’m reading through Fuck.Docx. It feels like I’m reading through someone else’s life. To write with such a level of detail makes me uncomfortable when sober. But as I read it, sober, through the unequivocal brutal pain I put on paper, I realize it’s my souvenir of empowerment. Something to hold on to, and something to remember that I am lovable. That I deserved to be loved as a child, and I deserve to be loved, now, as an adult.
You know it’s inevitable. The challenge we all face in our family is the pure unfiltered trauma chemistry with a chaotic release mechanism. Aim, Go Go Gadget active defense system. Shields are up and the offensive system has misfired.
Susto, that is what I have experienced through my childhood. “Soul loss.” Soldier’s Heart. Fright Paralysis. Shell Shock. Battle Fatigue. PTSD. The name evolves and fortunately a cure is on the market. No dress code or prescription needed: 21 and over to party.
Cops and Californication duet all within 72 hours, but for the younger siblings it’s just the brink of a long deranged life. Trauma. Shell Shock from too early of an age, or at any age. Soul loss. We need control. As adults we must feel in control because as children there was absolutely none. You need a drink. Did she really just split without saying goodbye? Goodbye, love you, see you soon, take care! You deserve this drink like Jing Jong-oh deserves to have a pistol named after him.
“You weren’t shown love as a child. You think you’re unlovable. When people you trust, hurt you, you end up looking for tangible ways to inform them you are in fact unlovable,” says my therapist. It’s a nice way of informing me that my childhood trauma makes me act like a child when I feel betrayed. I gave you my trust, and now I’m vulnerable. Abuse my trust or perception of what that trust implies, Go-Go Gadget Active Offense is a Good Defense. It’s completely eliminated any trust throughout my life. I only trust children and drunks. It’s a rule. Let’s go grab a dirty martini, hold the olives. They take away from the alcohol volume.
I woke up one evening and the dark sky indicated it was either sunrise or sunset and I had no idea what day it was. Fuck. My rules were changing. They were becoming dynamic. I look down at my smartphone and realize it is a little after 7:30 pm. I had started drinking heavier and earlier in the morning like my very own Ms. Cita.
Well, I didn’t sleep the entire night away. I was still on the SAME day. What time did you start drinking? At like 11:00 am? Still not as bad as Ms. Cita. I’m good dude. I’m releasing my Davy Jones Locker. I deserve a bloody martini in the morning. Hey, I’m a classy alcoholic. It’s not like I mixed Campbell’s tomato soup or V8 with the drink. Yeah, you bought the all-natural, Gluten-free mix. Alcoholics don’t do that because they aren’t classy, right?
I was a little embarrassed to be at the Package Store so early in the morning. There was an older woman, and her weathered skin looked like Matador raw-hide with a rosy red alcoholic hue. She smiled at me as she looked down at my Costco portion Tito’s bottle in hand. She gives me the atypical alcoholic cliche creed statement and says, “It’s 5-o’clock somewhere and probably only a 3-hour flight away.” It’s a twist that makes me chuckle, even though I’ve heard variations of it throughout my life. Her comment puts me at ease. I’m not an alcoholic. There are people here in the morning so you’re not the only one. She looks happy, I’m happy, we’re all happy. Plus you fuckin deserve this. You’re writing and getting all that trauma out, It’s your divorce bender, hombre.
The self-justification and the simultaneous awareness of the internal conflict remind me of the song Damien by DMX. “But we gotta be friends, blood out, blood in…” Really, it’s not like you’re hurting anyone. It’s your fuckin bender and you need to do this right now. You’re not hurting anyone.
I passed out one evening, and the pain was significant enough to awake me and the smell was even worse. I looked down at my leg. I had passed out with a cigarette in my hand. It burnt through my robe, through my underwear, and the burning on my skin luckily awoke me. At least you awoke dude. Some people are so far gone they would have just slept through it. You weren’t ‘passed out’ if a little cigarette burn woke you up. You’ve had more pain sober as a child. Don’t be such a wuss snatch. Anyways, let’s slow down tomorrow. If you can wait until at least 7 pm, you’re not an alcoholic.
For a couple of days, I wait until 7 pm to start drinking after that incident. For the alcoholic all it means that instead of drinking at a turtle’s rate, we drink heavier and faster. Tonight my New England Patriots Zippo lighter is out of butane and I can barely stand straight. I manage to refill it, albeit wobbly, but butane has spilled onto my hands and all over the lid of the Zippo. I go to light my cigarette, and the flame cascades to the lid and up my butane-soaked hand. I throw the Zippo in drunken panic, and it lands on the floor.
Holy shit my sock is on fire. My fuckin sock is on fire. Did you have vodka on your hands mixed with butane; that’s pretty impressive. Martha Stewart is the hardest female out there. She should be a rapper. Whatever happened to little Elian Gonzalez? Shit, fuck, my sock is on fire. Call 911. No, you‘re drunk imbecile. You know what do to. Stop, Drop, and Roll. Yeah buddy! This is what you’ve been training for since they taught you that shit in elementary school!
I roll on the sock and halfway through my roll, I hit the wall like a clumsy stuntman. I stand up with an alcohol-induced, exultant posture. The fire is out and I only managed to burn a little bit of the carpet. I wobble with triumphant idiotic rhythm and pass out on the bed.
You’re not an alcoholic anyways. You just need it to sleep. If you don’t drink, you will be up until 5 am. The nightmares, remember. It’s the lesser of two evils. You can never sleep through the nightmares, and the sober nightmares are more vivid. When you drink, you don’t remember the night terrors.
I think it started with him. I learned his evil hatred had spewed into my little brother’s life when my 15-year-old brother moved in with us. I realized the torment and abuse had continued in California.
Drink a little more, here drown it out. The guilt as an adult not being able to stop it hit me the hardest. At least as a child, they told me I was powerless, but what’s your excuse now as an adult? The guilt spawned many of my own memories that I was trying to stuff into my vault. My mother still covered for him, always, lying to me through her teeth. “He’s changed, Ali.” But as my little brother recalls his own trauma, I know he hasn’t. Blood is thicker than water, but in my family, it’s no thicker than 40 proof anything.
The grief and liquor started consuming me in early 2013 and I decided to tolerate the green apple nervous squirts and visit him in California, despite my fear and apprehension. I wanted peace, reconciliation, and closure for my entire family. My disgust in myself for being there was almost in parity with the childhood giddiness I felt at having my first beer with my sperm donor. My uncle intercedes as we order a beer, “Make sure he doesn’t drink too much tonight. He becomes someone else when he does. He can’t handle it. He never has been able to.”
Oh, you think he becomes someone else? I’ve experienced and seen it with my own childhood eyes! He’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and emergency exits were not included. Who takes their child on the farce of a friendly walk after making them swallow up their own vomit? The same parent you’re sitting here with right now you fuckin brainwashed piece of shit. You feel so unlovable. You traveled 3,000 miles to feel it. You think if you finally felt loved by him, you’d finally become lovable.
It’s the continuity of experience, even as a man, that I’m longing to be loved. It’s coded, embedded, into my nervous system since it was hacked by abusive parents at such a young developmental stage. Victimization is continuity, and being unlovable is continuity. It’s a map in which I know the territory, and my GPS signal has turned to alcohol to find my way out. “When possible, make the next possible U-Turn. In 300 feet, hit the Package Store called U-Earn.”
In my first AA meeting, it felt so fuckin cliche. Hi, my name is Ali, and my Cabo Wabo level is pretty low today. Ollie? Alley? Hiiiii Allie Salami. Perfect. Continuity of experience. You’re such a loser why are you here? There’s probably a bunch of knuckleheads in here who will never understand. Wait. I know her face. She’s the local librarian. And I’ve seen her face at my children’s school. Holy shit this woman is here in her Nursing outfit, and there’s a fuckin veterinarian here. Will I have to share? I checked in on FourSquare. Is that sufficient enough for sharing? Will, they already know I’m damaged goods? Is my damage permeating through my pores like the Dirty Martini from last night? Is there a mandatory period of non-alcoholic use before I can be here? I wonder what they would do if I came intoxicated?
Now 112 hours. The number patterns remind me of memory patterns, like data patterns in computers: 1GB, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 128GB. 12 hours, 24, 48, 72, 96 hours… This was their fault. Fuck! It’s my older sister’s fault. Why did she offer me alcohol at 15? Fuck! This is his fault. He introduced me to Dirty Martini’s which made the vodka go down so much easier. The saltiness reminded me of the pickle juice I used to drink out of the jar as a kid. Fuck!
This was your fault. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault. I just need to remember that my childhood is a precursor to a destination, like a GPS tracking device embedded in my ass, that always finds its way back to a substance that eases the pain.
I tried taking on my entire family’s problems, and then two became four; more problems, more booze—four became eight. Eight Gigabytes of sleepless nights. I can’t resolve their issues anymore, although I desperately wanted to. Fuck! I desperately want to. But I need to help myself. Maybe digging into my own core, writing about where this ends is the most helpful thing I can do.
You should have never tried. You aren’t a therapist. You told them they needed therapy immediately. Can’t they see what it does, festering anger, bombarded by relentless questions? All masked by holding our chins up like we were taught. I can still help them, but I’m going to need a drink cause there are a lot of fucked up little “mini-me” skeletons in their closet. That’s right; shits fucked up; you deserve a drink.
At the end of 2013, I decided to let it all go. “We can’t help her anymore; we need to work on our own family.” But somehow I still feel something is owed to my protector, and even I faltered at the behest of my own advice. She stayed at my house right before the shit-storm. A cold Canadian wind collided with hot Gulf winds, followed by hail, occasional showers, and light pain.
Two weeks without a drink. You can’t fix them, only yourself. The trauma continuity runs through all of us and you sure as shit didn’t cause it, but you became a product of it. Am I a product of it, or do I have a life sentence to follow in his footsteps?
I love inspiration. Inspiration put to life. What was held in this digital vault can become something more. I can be his living kryptonite. Cruelty-induced inspiration inspired me to drink more, which led me to a walk-in closet. Sure it was nice and spacious, but there was only one way out and it wasn’t the way in. Let’s call it Narnia, nah how about Harmia. A portal I could only travel into with liquid insomnia. I retrieved what I needed there. Everyone always wants to know what’s in the dark hole of Harmia. It’s all slimy and fuckin gross. “Come on down here kid, we all float down here”.
Go ahead, drink.
Give yourself another reason to show yourself that you’re unlovable.
You don’t need their love; we don’t need their love. Captain Morgan and I share your lust and it’s enough. Who else but the Captain helped you release the brimming Davy Jones excrement that was tucked away?
The Capt. did.
I want to stare this fuckin Castaway Cabo Wabo Wilson right in its face until its fake eyes know how weak I am. Or, until I figure out how strong I am. Right now, it’s a draw. The fucker just stares at me; fuck it, I’ll stare right back.