My life has become so that by three o’clock in the afternoon I am chugging black coffee in a wild attempt to get sober. Yesterday, I accidentally broke my bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the bathroom of my therapist’s office and I was more upset that I lost a decent amount of good whisky than with what the staff would think when they walked into a bathroom reeking of liquor. Low on funds and awaiting my nest unemployment cheque meant I couldn’t buy another bottle straight away, so I spent the rest of the day chain smoking cigarettes with shaking hands.
Winter came in one fell swoop and I finally understood what they meant when all those books and movies talked about the warmth of whisky running down the throat and warming the body from the inside out. I’ve begun to crave that and it’s become the closest I come to being content. I concluded a long time ago that there is no point to life, but there is a big difference between knowing it and actually feeling it in every pore of your being. Shortly after this unhappy epiphany, I met the man of the dreams: he hails from Tennessee and he’s my dream southern gent; I call on him to smooth my sorrow and he never lets me down. Jack Daniel’s whiskey became the unashamed balm for my unhappiness. I read a great quote the other day by Brendan Behan that more or less went, “I’m a drinker with a writing problem” and suddenly I knew I had found a kindred spirit. I had been looking for the normalization of my pseudo-alcoholism and I had found it in Behan’s words.
Another quote stumbled my way, but this one wasn’t from anyone worthwhile, it was born from my own mind: “What if I womanhood unglorified?” The other day, I found a weird growth on my vulva and the day before that my lover pulled his face from my cunt to tell me that it smelled unusual. My sexual history rivals even Casanova’s and it’s less because I’m desirable and more because I’m an easy lay, used by men and then shamed by them for my promiscuity. But, a fuck is a great anti-depressant. I constantly crave the feelings of the unbearable lightness of being that I get after a good fuck. The sort of fuck where I’m made to feel every hole in my body filled to the brim, unable to take anymore, but craving it all the same Why don’t therapists prescribe good fucks for the depressed, the anxious and the unhappy? Prostitution should be legalized and meds replaced with sex; it’s cheaper and healthier, and one dose does wonders for days.
In lieu of good sex, which can be hard to come by, good whisky is always on hand.
“Goodbye, cruel world,” I think as you walk into the therapist’s office. “Hello, salvation.”
After I’d made this appointment my hands shook badly. I realized it had been the first time I’d allowed myself to become so vulnerable — to show your vulnerability so openly. It was terrifying. I’d spent my entire life avoiding just that and here I was forced to do what I hated most as an act of self preservation.
“I just needed someone to talk to,” I’d told the therapist, a kindly old lady, warming up to whom it took me ages. She now stares at me with an expressionless face. I have no idea what she’s thinking and I thank god for that. I secretly thank her for not revealing what’s inside and just sitting there, almost statuesque, waiting for me to go on.
“I don’t think that feeling bad is emotionally acceptable, so I make yourself feel bad physically,” I say ("By getting pissed drunk and chain smoking my way to an early grave," I think). “So that my pain will be justified. So my feelings of utter sadness and that there is no point in anything in the world will be illustrated through my physical being. What other way is there to show the world that depression isn’t just in my mind? That it hits hard and rips away at me and makes me feel like total shit almost as bad as if someone had come by and punched me square in the jaw?”
She’s been writing the whole time I’ve been speaking and when I stop she glances up at you with that poker face of hers. I look away, biting my lip and while I know she is staring at me she doesn’t make me feel rushed. How do therapists have this uncanny ability to make you feel at ease? Granted it takes forever to maintain a relationship where you’re comfortable enough to not feel uneasy pouring your innermost grief out to a total stranger, but once that barrier is broken, it’s remarkable how much you’re willing to share. How much you realize you needed to share.
“It hurts,” I mumble under my breath, hating myself for being so helpless.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that,” she speaks and I i try to ignore the red rushing to my cheeks and go on, miraculously able to speak clearer now that that awful secret of my emotional impotence has been revealed.
“It’s so painful that I can’t even put into worlds how much pain is cruising through my body. It’s devastating. It is crippling. It’s literally the worst feeling in the entire world hands down because it makes me believe that I will never be happy again. That I don’t deserve happiness. That I am destined — for whatever reason — to be victim to this hideousness.”
She’s writing again and she nods as I speak. Does that mean she’s heard it all before or does it mean that she somehow actually understands the extent of my suffering? That intense feeling of loneliness that I always believed no on could ever understand, has this woman understood it? Really truly understood the flailing impotence of knowing that no soul — living or dead — has ever experienced the same level of suffering as me in the history of humanity? She looks up again, her pen poised, waiting for me to go on and I see in her eyes that she doesn’t get it. Her eyes have deceived her; I am nothing but a textbook case to her and she’s yet another person who can logically dictate my pain but could never actually fathom it.
I are alone in this feeling and I’ll always be alone. I am not deserving of companionship for some reason. I am cursed to suffer this alone, all by myself. I am cursed to figure out how to cope, how to get this monkey off my back. Who knows why. I’ve spent so long trying to figure out why and still no answer reveals itself. Would it even be any easier if I knew why? The world is dizzy and I don’t know why I stay.
“Why me?” I ask suddenly. “What did I do to deserve this?” And the therapist has no answer. How could she? “I just drink and sometimes it comes back up my esophagus, the bile tasting of Jack Daniel’s and Coke. I looked to it to help me and it only bites me in the ass.”
“Do you think that’s wise?” she asks.
It’s rare that she asks me questions because that is not the relationship we’ve worked to develop. I come here just to spill my melancholy guts while secretly hoping and praying that she’ll somehow understand just exactly how I’m feeling. That she’ll realize that I’m not just another depressed patient, but someone whose feelings of sadness are truly unique and exceptional. I can’t imagine anyone else has ever felt like I do when I’m at my lowest and I’m always embarrassed when the therapist is unimpressed by the magnitude of my despair.
“What else can I do? Who else can I rely on?” I retort, suddenly accepting that Jack Daniel is your anthropomorphic saviour. After all who’s been there for me when I’ve been feeling down lately? Whose presence in my life has stopped my intentionally harming myself? It’s Jack who’s helped me when I couldn’t sleep, when I got anxious, when I was making bad decisions in the hopes of it leading to my purposely accidental death. “I don’t know if I’ll ever figure this goddamn shit out. Fuck this life. I don’t deserve it and if I’m going to be forced to deal with it, it’s going to be on my own terms.”
“Our time’s up for today, unfortunately.”
My head is throbbing and it’s suddenly too hot. Collecting my things I say thank you, without making eye contact, and walk out.
Left to my own devices and free from the scrutiny of anyone, I find a secluded corner in a park and pull out the mickey of Jack Daniel’s which now sits nestled alongside my laptop and cigarettes. Tools of the trade, I think morbidly and are unsure if I am referring to my career or my mental health. I don’t care at this point. I’m exhausted, as I always are after pouring out the secrets of my soul and I want nothing more than to fall into an eternal sleep. The real Big Sleep is impossible for me — I’m too much of a piece of chicken shit to even attempt it and far too selfish to deprive the world of myself, misery and all. But the emotional numbness that comes with one too many swigs of Jack is close enough and I start right away, not even bothering to find something with which to mix it.
Whisky is vulgar. All alcohol is vulgar to me and once upon a time I never understood why the hell anyone would put their tastebuds through that foulness, but now I understand. The ends justify the means, in this case and I know that sooner rather than later I’ll be blanketed in the peace that only comes from Jack. Right now my mind is racing with gloom and I find myself unable to wade through the murky thoughts which proudly boast my failures as a writer, a friend, a lover, a human. Every accomplishment I’ve ever celebrated is now forgotten as if it never even occurred and in its place is every failure I can recall. The failures I file away under triple lock and key so as never to be tempted to ever go through them are now fluttering about in the library of my mind and I catch glimpses of these lacks of success and drown further and further into your drink.
“Enough is enough,” says Jack suddenly, taking a stand and blocking my mind’s eye from reading through my history of defeats. “Fuck all that shit.” Fuck it, indeed! Who needs all those reminders? Why do I even keep them around to fall victim to time and time again? “Let me help with that,” says Jack, a twinkle in his eye and he takes a match to them all.
We stand with our arms around each other, watching my failures burn, watching my sorrows turn to ash, seeing the successes peeking out from their hiding places like the Munchkins after Dorothy dropped in. Once they see the death of the sorrows, they burst into song and Jack and I are celebrated for their defeat. I want to give Jack all the credit, but he doesn’t let you. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, sweetheart!” he exclaims with a lascivious. He is all smiles. I am all smiles. Everyone is smiling. The world is no longer dizzy and I can suddenly see why I remain. I suddenly see the beauty in the greenery of the park, the happiness in the warm breeze that whistles through the grass, the worth of being alive and being able to live as I please.