The End of Nihilism

Reflections written to mark the Earth’s somewhat tedious revolutions around the sun tend to unfold one of two ways, in my experience. The author either conjures up a conga-line of trauma and melancholia almost pornographic in its indulgences, or a sweet syrupy view of the world that’s capped off with a cookie-cutter kind of conclusion so generic it could have been lifted from a piece written back when asbestos was considered a marvel of modern insulation.

Nevertheless, it occurs to me that splurging my thoughts on years past and future in a barely literate form might be useful, if only to run a defrag on my cluttered mind.

2013 started as the great hangover; the past year’s hedonism paid for, as stern men and women in my Catholic youth assured me all such sins assuredly would be, with great pain and suffering. Or perhaps I’m just being self-centered. In any case I went from multiple relationships to none in some sort of great (and very justified) karmic backhand brought about by my reckless ignorance of other people’s feelings, which in my great hidden narcissistic self-hatred I’d somehow made a virtue of.

Tl;dr- the author fucked up, mightily, and wept.

And drank. My profession, for those of you which know it, is not known for its worship of sobriety, but truly Faustus excels in what he puts his mind to, and the early part of last year was focused on getting shitfaced at each and every opportune moment. Wary of further mistakes and embarrassment, I kept to my room for my medicinal binges; thus did the apex of existence become sucking down a bottle of spirits whilst under the covers, sometimes laughing, mostly crying, all in all a great experience in self-loathing that would do my stern, austere forebears great pride. More on this later.

There’s no way to do the next plot point justice, but humbly do I try (and apologise in advance for uncharacteristic sappiness) . At a munch, deep in the depths of a bar, I tossed out yet another sardonic barb brought on by existential weariness and cheap scotch.

“Fucking undergaduates!” I roared in agreement with a postgrad friend’s lament about the nearby university being cluttered with them.

And to my great surprise, an equally sardonic laugh responded.

Turning, I found it belonged to a very pretty young woman, who did not seem at all insulted that I had breezily labeled her current educational status as objectionable. A while later we had coffee; I showed her recordings of Menuhin from the 1930’s, and held her gently. I defied a 4am shift start to go to Hellfire that night, and ran my vampire-gloved hands across her perfect, perfect self for the first time. And I later sang Panzerlied with boisterous happiness all the way to the office, my heart doing gymnastics all the way.

Time may be relative, but the moments in which I met her will forever remain cherished ones.

Life meandered on, yet our happiness became slowly blighted by my increasing madness. Realising at long last that fiercely guzzling alcohol every other day was not in fact relevant to my long-term interests, I discarded it. But the absence of the dulling warmth that spirits provided brought to the surface all the sadness and fear and determined nihilism that had blanketed my soul since childhood.

So it goes. And so it went. Arguments, laughter, highs and lows whirled by as I gently sunk deeper and deeper into a determined trough of depressed fatalism. I collared her, binding her to me in celebration of our journey thus far, and in high hopes of what was to come; yet the sadness and lack of self-awareness endured.

And the new year thus began as the previous one did, with grinding fatigue and a determined lack of hope. Determined, resolute to lose nothing by believing in nothing. And so on Monday I thought about ending my life; obviously that most self-involved of plans didn’t make it off the drawing board. Thus do I work, and sleep, and force myself to eat, in a place where hope is gone, and all that is left is patience.

I’ve set down these facts at some length, because I hoped that they might bring some clarity to my life. I did not wish to distress anyone; I have so very much, yet inexplicably feel I have so very little.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I had a long discussion in which she indicated I have not been accepting my condition, whatever it is, but rather seeking to do so by living as though it wasn’t there. As usual, her brilliant mind was right on target. But the awful pride that drives my organised despair was loathe to listen.

I titled this post the End of Nihilism, because it seems that like a JK Rowling book, neither it and I can live whilst the other survives. How do I put trust and belief in things after so long? Can it be done?

‘S’é mo chroí ‘tá trom is é brónach

I woke today in great sadness and distress, having dreamed my darling had died overnight. I rushed to phone her only to be stopped by the nagging fear that she was sick of me; sick of my sadness and madness. The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, flagging his arrival in the absence of any change.

There is no glib and easy conclusion. There is only life and my choices within it. Hopefully I make better ones this year, though I twitch with an urge for the folly of self-destruction.

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Freshly Unrepressed

In a way none of us are ever completely in control of themselves. Sleeping prompts the invisible army of automated process that keeps the low lights burning through the still morning hours. Add to that eating, walking, or even fucking; all programmed into the long spools of evolution’s memory inside each and every cell. Our subconscious usually does the rest, or so I tell myself when pondering the purpose of places like Bunnings.

Yet it’s quite another thing entirely to lose control of your mind in a fashion outside of our normative standards; like yesterday when I was adamant that an army of men would descend on my new unit and empty it of my belongings because of a problem with a rental form that I’m not even sure exists. After you spent an hour trying to get me to come home so you could try and calm me down, I spent most of the trip convinced you’d called the police to have me involuntarily committed.
This sort of thing has been happening with increasing regularity these past few months, like when I was convinced announcing my moving out n the first place would prompt my then-housemates to steal all my money. Then there was the time I was convinced someone you disagreed with online would come down from interstate and kill you. Before that I was certain I was getting prostate cancer. Still earlier I used to think people at work were monitoring each and every one of my browsing sessions online. The people next door were laughing at the way I hung up my clothes. A guy whose car I’d run in front of a little belatedly at an intersection was going to post my face online, and have me hunted down and beaten. The government was monitoring my home laptop. I was going to be arrested for no reason. My mother was changing the locks on me so I couldn’t go home when I was in Year 12. My friends were secretly all against me.
And it just goes on, and on, and on. An irresistible stream of thoughts forcing their way into my mind, until eventually it became the reality. And who puts up with it? My life is littered with the names of people who eventually wearied of my insanity.
I can rarely sleep soundly. I feel utterly alone in all of existence, truly ‘as though through a glass darkly’ moving muted and in shadow through people’s lives. I feel my words running together when speaking. Sentences are sometimes hard to put together.

I’m here, eternally damned. All I want to do is lie under the covers and cry. I don’t want to know people. I feel so utterly helpless. What will those well-meaning physicians do? Give me more drugs to make me dull and fat, or tell me to meditate.I’m sorry darling. I know its hard for you. I know you must feel lonely; like you wanted Robb Stark and wound up with the Mad King.

I truly don’t know what to do. I hesitate to even write  this because I know it will hurt you.

Maybe I just need to get over myself. I don’t know. Block it out. Get used to it. Be a man. Are these things any less ridiculous than taking several pills a day which make me fat and lazy, just to feel slightly less like shit?

I just want to make you happy. Nothing lights up my life quite like your smile. I want to nurture and protect you. I want to cuddle you and make you laugh.I want all these things. I’m sorry I rarely make them happen. I’m sorry for everything.

I love you, even if you’re sick of hearing it.
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I began 2013 tired and pissed off over drinking too much. I finished in it tired and pissed off over not drinking at all. Such is progress.

 I didn’t devote too much time to the community last year. After the whirlwind party time that was 2012, I was preoccupied with Real Life in 2013. Unlike most people here, I have a fucking career to uphold. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wanted to reach down and smack some of my fellow deviants across the face over their self-indulgent, leisurely harassment of my partner, and my friends. My partner kept on telling me you weren’t bad people, just trying to do what you thought was right, misguided as that might be.
She was wrong. You *are* horrible people, without any shred of humanity. You are the worst of the worst, the pathologically callous, lacking in any empathy, any desire other than self-aggrandizement and advancement over the bones of those you who do not fit your twisted ideology. 
What whelping, whining creatures these people are; bleating on about how hard they have it. I work full-time, or in many weeks, more than full-time. I also daily experience the following-

*Massive cravings stemming from alcoholism
*A strong desire to be held and cuddled, stemming from abusive parents.
*A strong sense of paranoia, stemming from experience.
*Inability to experience pleasure
*Wanting company, and then when in company wanting to be alone.
*Lack of emotional awareness, stemming from god knows what.

*Fear that my unbalanced mind will scare away my girlfriend, if she’s not fucking sick of everything already.

Yet you must be commended for the selfless way that you carry on through your petty tribulations. Cry me a fucking river.

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We choose to go to the Moon

The dreams come without pattern; yet again you shudder awake to visions of scotch-filled tumblers in your hand, a comforting light winking through the glass and bidding you drink. She turns beside you, murmuring softly, but is otherwise undisturbed.

Earlier she bucked and heaved, sweat beginning to glisten on the perfect, perfect skin as the pleasurable torment mounted. The headphones relayed their subliminal script, bringing out the more subtly hidden desires. Later, spent, limbs entangled into peaceful cuddles that belied the nightmares awaiting you.

Back in the present, the body moves sluggishly as you coax it into clothes and stagger out the door; the hangovers of years past have given way to dull, uncaring fog.

Evening again, now, and tired eyes survey a rubric seemingly laying out every conceivable circumstance.

“Do you want to control her finances? Will you give her an allowance?’

Yes, you think wryly, because I have millions to spare and no other power with it.Some preliminary answers are sketched out in a faltering hand before sleep finally beckons; and for once it is devoid of terrible wants or familiar problems.

Days pass and you resist the urge to shout into the phone ( Of course he’s capable of that! You’re so fucking naive! ) as the endless possibilities of harm flash through your mind. Your heart is alive with emotion, but the mind is still; of course this might happen, whatever she says, but what are you going to do about it? Battle plans and contingencies begin to form, in those the darkest and most reliable corners of your mind.


“Denial isn’t a punishment,” she says later, pouting, effortlessly demolishing her own argument with an adorable flourish. In bed she asks of the list; again you make the excuses, pretending you have the perfect idea of when it will adorn her neck and how it will all work out, when, truthfully, you feel only some hidden instinct may provide any bulwark against the variable cataclysms that life so lovingly sends your way.

The weekend waxes as your leg drags, twisted in pain from angry sessions upon the treadmill. Clutching a sheaf of papers dispensing yet more psychoactive pharmaceuticals, you hobble over the threshold and collapse onto the bed. You glance at the assorted white bottles already adorning the dresser, and wonder of what possible alternatives are left.

So very tired. So tempting to substitute the green bottles from the supermarket for their forbidden counterparts. But-

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go the moon, and do the other things- not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

You open the soft drink, and think of what her new name should be.

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The tyranny of happiness

From the very beginning, we are frogmarched into the idea that one must aspire to be happy at all times. For children (and parents), smiles are associated with all that is good, and any absence of this is a harbinger of disaster. It is a theme reflected in most popular television shows, books, video games, and the like. The villains are always scowling, the heroes always smiling at the beginning and end. To smile is to live, we are endlessly told as kids. To do else is letting everyone else down.

This process is repeated with relentless ferocity as we grow older. Positive Thinking! is the order of the day in most high schools around Australia; teens are taught not to critique and question, but to strive for happiness. Career development seminars stress the importance of a positive appearance in interviews- a ‘clean-cut’ picture of vigour and positivity. PE classes teach that exercise will make you more likely to be happy, a sentiment that gets close to the truth but falls over with the wrong h-word at the end. Religion classes predictably teach that the All-Powerful Sky Man must be obeyed, and legs kept closed, to reach happiness. And so it goes.

As a society we thus churn out thousands of people each year into the workforce who have been conditioned to believe that life is merely about whatever makes us happy. That as long as we’re smiling, everything is just peachy. Therefore the pursuit of happiness becomes our ultimate goal; and then we despair at the increasingly selfish nature of society. So we buy more things we don’t need. We sign up for more classes and gym memberships to get that sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that we so urgently rush towards with each passing moment.

‘Oh Mr Lulz’ you may exclaim, laughing nervously, ‘you’re just a grumpy man that needs to lighten up. Be happy, be grateful.’

But why? I suspect the answer has more to do with your comfort than mine.

We are so threatened by the slightest hint of anything other than eternal happiness that we ZERG RUSH anyone daring to not be this way. Frowns are quickly and forcibly turned upside down with aphoristic, sub-standard counselling (not to be confused with psychology and psychiatry), where people try and brainwash you into silent consent to the bad things in life. They tell you the world isn’t bad, that you are, and that your thinking must be changed for things to improve. Prostitute your sense of reality, and all happiness will follow. If you’re a chronic and resistant sad sack, then fear not; your doctor will happily prescribe an addictive, mind-bending drug to ease the suffering of those around you. You yourself will probably suffer massive weight gain, sleeping problems and so on as a result, but what does that matter? More people are happy now, and you should be too.

I don’t believe in this bullshit.

Emotions are transient, and fleeting. To try and hold onto one specific emotion for eternity, and fetishise it as the be all and end all of existence is illogical, consigning all other modes of the human experience to the memory hole. It creates a society endlessly looking inward. It cheapens and ridicules the suffering of the mentally ill and the traumatised; I don’t know of any depressed person, any schizophrenic, any addict, any anorexic, any abuse survivor who magically happied themselves into a better life. It denies the wide and variable tapestry of human experience, that marks a life well-lived. Must we really strive mindlessly toward this dumb, unquestioning, smug, grinning nothingness to be valid human beings?

For the future of humanity, picture a large smiley face crushing into dust a human skull, forever and ever and ever.

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An apt discovery

I found this somewhere, out there on the interwebs and it sums up my experience perfectly.

” I have been sober for two years today. You’re not sober, you’re just abstinent. OK, I’m just abstinent, not sober and I haven’t had a drink for two years. You might be abstinent but, you’re not sober. You’re just a dry drunk. OK, I’m just a sober dry drunk. No, you’re not sober. OK, I’m just an abstinent dry drunk. You might be dry but, you don’t have sobriety. I thought I was sober. You might be sober but, you don’t have good sobriety. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. There is abstinent sobriety but, you have bad sobriety. What, I have bad sobriety? Yes, because you are not in recovery. I thought I was in recovery whereas I haven’t had a drink in two years. You’re not in recovery, you are only around recovery. You never recover. I thought that because I’m in recovery that I was sober. No, you never recover, you’re just abstinent. But, I attend A.A. every day. That doesn’t matter because, you are only around A.A., and you’re not in A.A. But, I’m in the program. Yes, you’re in the program but, you’re not working a good program. OK, I’m only around A.A., working a bad program and not sober. But, I am working the 12 steps. No, you only think you are working the steps. I thought if I was abstinent and attending A.A. that I was in recovery. No, that’s your problem, you only thought you were sober. I thought that I had good sobriety as I was attending A.A.That’s another problem you have. You’re thinking, when you were told to sit down, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth. But, I can’t talk with the cotton in my mouth. That’s good, because you don’t know what you are talking about, just sit there for 90 days and don’t talk or think. But, I think I am sober. No, you’re just not drinking, you don’t have quality sobriety. What, there is good sobriety and bad sobriety and now quality sobriety? Yes there is and you don’t have either or. You’re just a dry drunk. How can I be drunk if I’m sober? I told you that you’re not sober, you’re just not drinking. OK. FuckK this bullshit, I think I’ll go the bar and have a few drinks.”

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The Ballad of Righteousness in Despair

I recall hearing an insurance ad play on the radio as a child. A man’s voice solemnly intoned ‘From the second I walked in the door, I knew we’d been robbed.’ I would have done well to remember those words fifteen years later, when, in desperation, I turned toward the great monolith of addiction rehabilitation, the vaunted AA.

Much like other alliterative organisations rooted in the early 20th century, AA was born of a climate where hopelessness leads to the veneration of ignorance. It ponders no evolution of its creed, and brooks no criticism. Its answers are simple- you are a drunk, because you are a drunk, because you are a drunk. You are powerless. You must submit. You will submit to our thinking. You will follow our Twelve Commandments, the chrome-plated 12-inch cock of spiritual justice to the letter, or be cast aside as a backslider, someone who is ‘not with the program.’

For the huddled masses who turn to it, there is only one recourse for the despair and grief that alcoholism and alcohol dependence brings; ‘Get Thee to a Meeting! And all else will follow.’ I was told with persistent overweening insistence that I needed to go to more meetings; every meeting begat calls to go to another. Get Thee To More Meetings, lest you retain any skerrick of individual thought.

My local meeting consisted of people from an Australia confined to the history books; predominantly old men with the fear of the All-Powerful Sky Man in them, who intone week after week about how shit their lives were while drinking, and how everything’s A-OK now that they follow the Heavenly Screed of Righteous Self-Flagellation. For ‘Working the Steps’ basically involves telling God how sorry you are for daring to contract an addiction, and then running around similarly prostrating yourself to all and sundry among your more earthly companions.

Of course this approach completely fails to appraise anything which might have led to alcohol abuse in the first place; like having a shit childhood because your Dad beat the fuck out of you, or because you were sent off to Afghanistan and were shot at every day for several years, or because you’re bone-achingly depressed and a regular bottle of Jack is what keeps you running upon the treadmill of modern life. My observations of the elders in the rooms seem to indicate a belief that people are simply struck down with teh alcoholisms at random, and that this explanation should be Good Enough For The Likes of You.

Yet I have been more fortunate than most in that my local meeting was largely bereft of smug, preachy cunts; I ran into a few when I obediently attended others in nearby neighborhoods. For there is precious little room in the rooms for anything other than monotonous obedient consent to the constant emotional masochism; humour is very rarely allowed, levity no doubt considered to be the Devil’s Work. I found this when I jokingly remarked, during a trembling, stumbling share at a new meeting, that I might make 90 meetings in 90 days (standard procedure for newbies) if I went to a dozen a day for the next week.

Now this is one of AA’s holiest of holies, because it’s straight outta propaganda Compton; bombarding new members with the Twue Way each and every day firms their ideological purity. It also ensures loyalty through a sense of belonging and kinship- the sort of thing Theodor Adorno would spontaneously ejaculate with derisory joy upon analysing.

So Righteous Old Man #9332 who shares after me thunders midway through his monologue about how important this intellectual barcoding process is, shooting looks at me all the while. It was then that one of the more knowledgeable voices in my brain began to quietly but firmly suggest – without disputing that I indeed have a major drinking problem- that this was all just programmatic bullshit.

No one cared about my discontent with my career. They didn’t care about the attachment disorder that has left me constantly gripped by social anxiety for years. They didn’t care about the bullshit job my father did of being a father. These were all things to be solved by the big surrender outlined in the 12 Steps, by presenting my sorry sinning ass to Papa Jehovah for a ritual spanking. They did, however, care about my medication- mood stabilisers are a big no-no, along with any other medicines. Can’t have those pesky doctors with their high-falutin’ science getting in the way of moral purity. Yes Virginia, it was ever thus.

Dissenters are dealt with in what’s becoming a depressingly familiar use of circular logic- those who don’t agree with the necessity of the 12 steps haven’t been doing them properly. Therefore anything that works is to AA’s credit, and whatever doesn’t is simply your fault, pilgrim.

In short, you have a group of people who like to think of themselves as the be all and end all of addiction treatment. They have a response to criticism that would make the sulkiest of teenagers blush. They demand total loyalty, and demand it often via near-daily attendance. They insist you are nothing without them. There’s a word for that sort of behavior. And its something my sober self can do without. Get Thee Behind Me, cunts.

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