My morning alarm clock jump started my head into a throbbing cadence, forcing my mouth to swallow with my tongue tasting like an ash tray. I dragged myself into the “living” room to pick up assorted nightly leftovers, clean tables and put the empties into the recycle bag. I wanted the room to have a look of normalcy when the kids went to the kitchen for breakfast. After a shower, I dressed for work while I smoked a bowl of whatever drug I had. I needed to feel mellow to make the one hour trip to the office. Drugs eased me through each morning’s hangover and knocked my anxiety down a couple notches. On some level I wanted to be a normal professional heading into rush-hour traffic.
The commute to work was 16 miles. I drove the first eight miles in about 15 minutes, but the next eight miles took 45 minutes. I nosed through traffic to get to the office. Not that I was eager to get to work, rather my motive was to reduce my sick time between home and the office.
My obsession with the pain in my stomach kept me fixated on bathrooms and intestinal accidents. The cramps built up as I crawled through the gridlocked streets that surrounded the building where I worked. To keep from going crazy, I tried to divert my mind as I shifted my body; breathed deeply and slowly; opened the window to air out my head; turned up the music to buzz my brain; and tried to think of anything except being in the confines of my VW in bumper-to-bumper traffic. On occasion, I took an exit to return home, calm down, and pull myself together before I tried the traffic again. Drugs and alcohol had destroyed my insides and left me preoccupied with a fear of unseen damage. My anxiety over traffic converted the commute to one long panic attack.
“So, what are we doing for lunch?” one of the guys asked. The question was a signal to stop work, power down technical thinking and scope out lunch. For me the most productive part of my work day was over. “Who’s got dope?” “How much cash do we have?” “Which bar are we going to?” Lunches were not about food, as much as they were about getting high, which was done on the drive to the bars.
Given enough cumulative cash we would rotate various strip joints which offered slightly different venues but nude dancers were the attraction. Once there, we drank beer after our eyes adjusted to the darkness and the colored lights that lit up the bar and circled the stage. Heavy curtains shut out the sun like a patch, so nobody could see inside as they walked on the street. There usually weren’t many men when we arrived and no more when we left. These places drew the scum of the earth, us. Often my gut would plead with me to stop this derelict behavior, but I followed the guys to these places whenever possible.
Some lunches I worried about my pounding heart because I was high and drinking beer, while loud music rocked me and provocative girls excited me. I rarely had money, so my friends bought me beer. I think sometimes they invited me because I made them feel better about themselves kind of validating their behavior by hanging out with a family man. I went because I was addicted to alcohol, drugs and excitement.
There were afternoons I went home after lunch because I was too wasted to produce any meaningful work. Afternoons when I did return to the office, I often picked up a computer listing and stared at it as I walked by my manager’s office. Most afternoons I would hunker down in my cube, praying for enough control to attend a meeting and the clarity to participate in discussions. Those afternoons seemed to last forever.
The articles published here by babyboomers.com are small excerpts of a 268 page manuscript titled “The Courage to Surrender” that I would like published. Call 678.361.4709 for information on the manuscript.