So I want to talk about the lies of alcohol and the insanity of alcoholism. I’ve been sober for over 10 years, but I still look back on those times, and realize just how deluded I was, how I was living a lie, and rationalizing it, and making it cool, or making it rebellious or making it as part of my youth, or thinking I’m actually immortal while I’m impaired.
The Lies of Alcohol
Because when I first started drinking, the first thing I did, when I hit that bottle, it just gave me this overwhelming sense of immortality. And then the first thing I did to get in trouble with the law was I was walking, I got a buzz on, I was only 17, and I was walking through a neighborhood. I saw two really nice bicycles in the backyard.
And so I just walked up, it’s at night, but this is in a neighborhood, there’s houses all packed together, so someone could obviously see me, but I just casually walked up, and I grabbed the first bike, it was a mountain bike. Then I looked over and I saw a BMX bike, I was like, that’s really nice, too. So I literally put that one on my shoulder and rode away with two bikes.
Of course, I got busted two weeks later, because I sold it to a kid who rode it to school, and then the parents got involved, and it all led back to me. But that was the first moment of insanity. I thought I was immortal.
And I’ve been very manic on alcohol, I could stay up all night on it, I had tremendous energy. I felt like I was in freedom. It was like my first free day when I was on alcohol, but it just did something different. My parents suppressed me and it was a strict household. So when alcohol hit my bloodstream, I felt like I was alive. But it turned against me.
I then got into the arts and I was writing poetry and I wanted to be a rock and roll star, so I looked up to the hair metal bands and the rockers that trashed their hotel rooms, and looked up to destructive artists and writers like Jack Kerouac and Hemingway, who died from – Hemingway died from suicide, Jack Kerouac died from alcohol.
My mom’s dad died when she was only seven from alcohol. So there’s just lots of alcoholism around me. But I was an artist. So I was going to self destruct because I believed that the more wrecked you were, the better art you could create, kind of like Van Gogh, you know, shooting his ear off.
I was like, okay, so you have to be a tormented soul to create really good art. You know, I heard that Edgar Allan Poe smoked opium, and William Burroughs was shooting up heroin.
So I was like, Okay, I have to get into drugs and alcohol to do great art. So that was probably the very first big lie of alcoholism. And so I didn’t go to music school because I didn’t graduate high school. I just started washing dishes at the local restaurant and still had dreams and still believed that I was going to be a rock and roll drummer.
I still had a drum set and still played music with a couple guys but it never took off. Just played in garages and couple house parties, but nothing came out of it. Still washing dishes, and now I’m hung over at work and just feeling pathetic, but I still had big dreams.
Then, I wanted to be a writer, so I was writing on this old typewriter and thinking I was all eccentric and used to wear these these weird suits and type on 1800’s typewriters and walk around with a briefcase with my manuscript in it, thinking I was just this eccentric artist, and only a couple people really liked my writing and, and I just thought I was gonna be the next Jack Kerouac.
So that was kind of a lie. Then going into it, I started drinking more and more to the point where I was still playing drums but I wasn’t playing with anyone. I was just isolating at home. Now I’m getting wasted every night. I’m hungover during the day.
Then I discovered how to get rid of the hangover in the morning by drinking more beer. So I was never hungover anymore. I was just constantly drinking.
Then one of the biggest lies that almost killed me was when I was 32, I had a heart attack at a job that I was training at. It was my first day there. I was hung over on tequila. My friend was training me to flip omelets. So now I’m up to being a cook, and I’ve been a cook for 10 or 15 years now, still making crappy money, 11 bucks an hour.
My friend who I drank with the night before is training me at his restaurant, not his restaurant, but where he worked. So we weren’t doing much with their lives. My friend wanted to be a writer as well and we were both just getting drunk every night, getting into fights and being stupid.
He was training me on saute and I had a heart attack. They flew me out to Seattle, Harborview hospital, they put a stent in my Widowmaker, which was like 70% clogged.
So here’s where the real insanity goes in place. I thought it was a fluke, because I was young, and I wasn’t overweight, and the doctors were even like, I don’t know, do you do coke? And I was like, No, I don’t do cocaine. And they’re like, well, I don’t know. I mean, maybe it’s hereditary. We don’t know why your artery was so clogged.
So I was like, Yeah, it’s a fluke. So I just started drinking even heavier after that. Most people when they have a heart attack, they stop drinking, they have a life review, and they change their life.
Not me. I was like, that was a fluke. Now I have heart meds that I’m taking with my alcohol. Plus, they gave me Xanax. So I wouldn’t be so anxious at work because when I worked, I moved around really fast. I couldn’t keep a steady pace. I was just hyper. That’s just the way I was.
So they gave me Xanax and a couple blood thinners and a cholesterol medicine. Now, when I’m getting wasted, my face is turning spotty white and red on these heart meds while drinking malt liquor every night.
Here’s the insanity, I kept feeling my heart. I had angina after the stent was placed in my heart. So I’m like, okay, I have heart pain, something’s up. So I’m going to drink alcohol to thin my blood, because I don’t want another heart attack.
That was the insanity! I got to drink beer to thin my blood so I don’t have another heart attack. Then after that, it got really bad, because I wasn’t making money anymore, because I was only caregiving now two days a week.
I was drinking malt liquor, but I didn’t have enough beer. So I was like, why not just stop eating because eating ruins your buzz? So I stopped eating. This is when I really started to go on a downward spiral. I’m literally starving to death, but thinking that the calories from the malt liquor will keep me alive. But in actuality, my brain was shutting down, and I was passing out at work standing up.
I wasn’t getting the proper REM sleep, I wasn’t eating, and I was getting drunk twice a day now. But I still had hope. I still had dreams. I was investing in stocks, and thinking I’m gonna make a ton of money – and that was the only thing that was keeping me going in my job, or in my life.
Now I’m getting drunk at work, too. But I had a two hour break in between shifts. I worked from morning until night at this restaurant. And the only thing that kept me going was driving around with a six pack on my break, drinking and driving and looking at my Edward Jones portfolio with my pathetic $3,000 in stocks.
I would go over to Edward Jones every day and get a printout of my portfolio and they would laugh at me, but I wanted to just see some change in my portfolio, even if it was a dollar higher. It made me feel good, and that’s all I had.
Everything else was a wreck. I was drinking with homeless people. I was pissing my bed every night, I had beer cans all over my floor, in my place and in my car. My car stank like old musky beer cans and cigarettes and my life was falling apart.
I was only making like $200 a week. I was drinking 24/7 now thinking that I’m going to die if I don’t drink. That’s the insanity of alcoholism, right there is that you think you have to drink to survive, when actually that’s what’s killing you.
Plus the lie of you know, I’m going to quit tomorrow. That’s what every alcoholic says. I’m going to quit tomorrow, just one more night. That’s the biggest lie of alcohol right there. I’m going to quit tomorrow. Or I’m going to switch to wine. Or I’m only going to drink when it’s sunny out or I’m only going to drink when it’s raining out.
There’s always a reason to drink and I thought it was my lifeline. I mean, you could have just hooked up alcohol to my veins through an IV and I would have been happy because that was my life towards the end of my drinking.
When I was 36 I was getting drunk twice a day, and thought I was gonna die if I didn’t drink – and you can die from alcohol withdrawals, so there is a half truth there. But my life was falling apart. Even my dreams of doing anything was pretty bleak at that point.
I was hanging out in a dark room, unable to work, too irritated to even listen to music, which was my number one love. I was just sitting in a dark room rotting, not even showering, not clipping my nails – and being irritated if anyone talked to me.
I just wanted to be left alone with my alcohol. Then it got to the point where I had imaginary friends because I was so lonely in my alcoholism, I created imaginary friends and I was crying every other day now.
So those are the lies of alcohol, it just gets worse and worse. Even if you get sober. You could go back a year from now and start drinking again and it’ll be just as bad as where you left off.
If I drank right now, with 13 years of sobriety, I would be at the same place I left off within a matter of weeks. I would be drinking malt liquor. I’d be hanging out with people that drink as much as me, probably hobos and homeless people, and I’d be homeless.
This time I would really be homeless. The only thing that kept me from being homeless last time was my rent was only 250 a month. I lived in a school bus. So the dreaming left – alcohol took away that fantasy; I was no longer writing – so alcohol took away that dream; I wasn’t traveling, so alcohol took away that. I was literally dying in a dark room with no friends left.
So those are the lies of alcohol. It was romantic in my early 20s but people were laughing at me. I was the town drunk. I was stumbling every night, falling down, scraping and cutting my body open. My girlfriends were destructive and that is not what I signed up for.
I became the drunk that I was scared of. When I was a little boy I saw a drunk person walking down the street. I was scared. I was like, Dad, what’s wrong with that man? And he said, Oh, he’s just a drunk. I didn’t even know what that was.
But later on, I became that person. I walked through town drunk, hitting the sides of the buildings, unable to stay up. People used to throw me in cars and would leave me for dead. And drinking and driving, I could have killed so many people. I could have killed myself. I kept drinking – just one more night. It’s the biggest lie in the world.
If you don’t believe me watch intervention and look at the family that you destroy. It’s not just you and the drugs and alcohol. Look around you. Every person in your life is pissed off or sad about you. You can see it on the show, Intervention, every single family member is destroyed by the addiction, or your alcohol. That’s the biggest lie.
You think it’s just you against the world. You think it’s just you and your drug. It’s not, there’s casualties everywhere. Your boss is concerned about you; your Friends are concerned about you; your family is concerned about you.
But you don’t see that when you’re deep in your alcoholism. You’re like, Oh, they just bug me. I just wish they would just leave me alone and let me drink. You’re hurting a lot of people. You hurt at least 10 to 100 people collaterally and you hurt everyone that knows about your drinking. It’s a big lie.
So I love my sobriety. I do these videos to remind myself how grateful I am. I watch intervention to remind me how good I got it because if I drank again, it would be death or it would be jail or it would be insanity. Those are the only three options Alcohol leads to if you’re an alcoholic, there’s no escape.
Even if you get sober, it doesn’t get better as you get older. That’s another lie. You don’t outgrow your alcoholism. It will grow whether you Drink or not, so you might as well stop drinking because it doesn’t get any better and never did for me. It never does for anyone else. I love you guys Hang in there. Hit that subscribe button. Leave a comment if you’re struggling with alcohol. Maybe I can help you out and we’ll talk to you soon.
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Erik C Johnson