I Am Not The Man I Used To Be

Full disclosure: I write this about two bottles deep in booze.

All of my heroes ended up being exactly like me. Untethered, free from the burden of life, and it was almost certainly due to the amount of narcotics that they put in their system (and they could afford to!).

You run from your problems, because, at least they did, and that makes sense to you. So you create new things that you want to run from. You drink more than you ever have. You do drugs to achieve an enlightenment you wouldn’t accept even if it slapped you in the teeth. And you become a god damn stereotype that everybody can point at as a frame of reference for how you should not ever be.

You will never disagree with them, either, by the way, because they have been right the entire god damn time. And there will be so many nights that you realize this. Every time you do, you will order a shot of some strong booze almost in spite of the realization itself.

“Fuck it.” You’ll think.

And so: Every human that isn’t caught in your web can see this: you are the alien. You are the burden. You are the source of shame. But there is a glow in that somehow because, and this is the most painful reality of all, people will attach themselves to you at a strange distance. They will show up at your parties. They will act like they give a shit about you. Hell, they might even stick up for you when you are half-assed wasted and being a goon. It might happen. It probably won’t, but it might. It could. And sometimes, rarely, it does.

And so you keep these hangers-on around. You convince yourself that they are your friends. And you will use incredibly superficial elements to convince yourself as such. You will. Because you have to. There is no other choice other than that because the bleak reality is oftentimes TOO bleak to accept. And so you don’t. You refuse to. These people show up and they show out and they attach themselves to you and you attach yourself to them and, before you know it, you’re all neck deep in booze and whatever the hell else. And that’s the first time that you feel clarity at all because, honestly, that’s when all of us are all the most vulnerable. So we will pour our life stories out. We will say things that we wish we hadn’t (even though they are ALL true statements and it gives us a level of credence with these human beings that, otherwise, you can’t deny or accept or do anything at all with). But that’s the bleak truth of it all.

And it’s this:

You make friends with people that share your blight. They share your burden. One way or the other. They got you because you have them and you share some strange sense of intimacy due to the chaos that is life as we live it.

And then you remember when it wasn’t this way…

You remember people that you used to be. People that deserved to be respected. People that worked 10–12 hours a day and had projects and things going on. People that gave OTHER people reasons to dislike you. You remember being that person, long ago, back when mainstream media outlets contacted you and asked you to be part of their programs. And you scoff. You act like you’re bigger than them because they didn’t see what you have always seen.

“Ha!’ You say.
But you don’t actually laugh.
And nobody else does either.

Ehhhhhh…okay, that’s the first time I got a little too specific with this article, but the vibe still remains. You aren’t the man (or woman) that you used to be and that bothers you.

And so you drink about it. You walk to the gas station and you buy five dollar handles of whiskey and you drink it like it’s tap water. You walk back into a house that you don’t want to be in, a house that has become a conduit for ridiculous behavior that maybe you could write about someday (you won’t), and you’ll hear people talk about the condition of the place (as if they didn’t have a part in making it that way themselves to begin with). And you will shrug it off because you have to, but there will also be a part of you that has a deep issue with it because…you were supposed to be more.

People will tell you that incessantly. They will ask why you are where you are instead of where you should be (as if it’s just as simple as going for it when you have no real advantages in place to make that so). They will talk about your skills and your talents as if they are some kind of indefinable truths that everybody notices (when, in reality, the only people that ever seem to notice are the people in small areas that can’t realize the actual talent that is out there, talents that supersede yours in every conceivable way, and oftentimes, by people a decade or so your junior).

But you let them do it. You become a cog in the machine. You are a giant fish in the tiniest fish bowl ever. These people sing your praises (sometimes). Occasionally, it even works. Certain people cling to you. They act as if you’re as important as those older people always convinced you that you were back when you still had a chance at something.

Some of them sleep with you. Some of them even profess love (until they get too close, at least), and you momentarily relish in that reality. You let them feed your ego because you desperately need that. You need some kind of validation because, otherwise, all of this effort was pointless. You did so much for so little and nothing ever came from it.

You suddenly have family members that show up in the morning to, “make sure you’re okay.” And they message you often about all the things that you should appreciate (and you should, by the way, but you have such a fucking hard time doing it). And then you feel like a burden to those that actually give a shit about you. They will walk in to your house with broken staircase posts and belts clinging to them for dear life (or the lack thereof). They will come in and see bottles of pills surrounding you and you will lie to them just like you’ve lied to everybody else and just like you’ve been lying to yourself for, hell, god knows how long. You will love these people all the more for their efforts, but it will also be an increasing source of pain because, let’s face it, you have disappointed them, too. You were supposed to be more.

And you aren’t. You never were.

The worst part is that there are a whole lot of people that still think otherwise. They truly believe in you. This makes you feel wholeheartedly guilty because you know something that they will likely someday know and just haven’t discovered yet. It’s the thing that every lover you have ever had notices. It’s the thing that anybody that spends enough time with you notices. You really aren’t that valuable. And you will reach this strange point where you can’t even accept a compliment without shrugging it off as nonsense because you know something that they haven’t figured out yet.

And you keep doing the things that people expect of you (which at this point also includes the shit that people mock you for), and you find yourself absolutely wasted on a Monday night, sitting in the dregs of parties gone by, and you aren’t doing a god damn thing with yourself. And that’s exactly the way it should be (but sometimes, it feels like you’re the only person that notices it).

Because there are realities that nobody wants to accept (especially those that actually have some kind of real emotion toward you). And you just wait to disappoint all of them, continuously, because that seems to be the only thing that you have ever been good at.

And so you keep doing that.
And you keep being that person.
And, eventually, everybody looks at you the exact same way.

And it’s only then that you realize you have reached your full potential. And that’s the truly ironic thing about it:

It’s only then that any of us have the same fucking perception.

And so you sleep. And you will wake up.
And you will do it all over again.
Because there is nothing else left to do.