Friend encountered something that had been said about my battle with alcohol, and my daily battle with alcohol, etc. and remarked something to me about that, and that has led me to say something here.
I've discussed my drinking in the past hundreds of times now, in how it's come up in this record, in some of my professional writings--there was a St. Patrick's Day op-ed, for one, and in parts of the individually published pieces of Glue God--and on the radio.
What concerns me is the larger concern that there is nothing you can write, no matter how simple and how clear, that people will understand. If this is true, I'm screwed. I'm depending on people being able to get what I write, when they do see it. And when more of them see it.
Let me put it this way. Life really comes down to two things that determine if you'll be successful or if you won't. If you have the name, people will buy and award your stuff. If you don't have the name, they won't. The work can be the same thing either time. In every single instance in our world right now--save for sports--people have what they have, in terms of recognition and money, because of the name. It is never the work. It's a two-party system, you might say. Name, or not the name.
I need to be the one exception (and the start of a new and better way). I am not sure there can be one exception. I guess my life, my quest, is the mega-genius version of the guinea pig. Because I'm about the only person out there who is truly great at anything. So we're going to have to see. It's going to need to be a three party deal, and not a dyad, with ability being that third member, for me to get anywhere. Because I'm only going to have the name that way. The work--against all odds, and many, many, many forms of discrimination and people trying to stop me--is going to have to make that name. And that is never how it works with anyone else. Let me be as plain as possible: Never.
For that to happen with me, people are going to need to understand what that work communicates, in the precise ways that it does. It is the highest precision work, of the most intricate design, where everything in that work is in play with everything else in that work; it's a huge undertaking of tandemness, synchronicity, every time. That doesn't mean each and every person has to get it to all of the levels that are there. There are an endless amount of levels. But I'm talking clarity right now. That level. "This means that precise thing."
As for the drinking, because I don't like it suggested that I wage some daily battle, like I'm teetering, or can't go into the bar, which I frequently do, where I sit and read and have a cranberry juice: people have their issues and things to get taken care of, and they take care of them however they need to do so.
And that's fine. That doesn't make you less of anything. For some people that's treatment, AA, support from friends, what have you. (Here I'll pause to add again that when I did go to the cardiologist, and learned that I had basically repaired my own previously faltering heart, all on my own, with the choices I made and the effort I put in, fifty people in publishing defriended me after I posted this news about my health on Facebook, because they preferred me to be dying. That's what we're dealing with here with these people.) But for the sake of accuracy and truth, that's not how it was for me. I didn't have a drinking problem. I had a problem in that I drank far, far too much. Do you understand the difference? I was not dependent on alcohol, even as I drank more than many alcoholics probably do. I am a man of outsized appetites and passions. A lot of what I do is big. My knowledge is big, how much I produce is big, the volume of stairs I run is big.
I realized that I was creating heart issues for myself. It was obvious. I went to the ER multiple times. I had an irregular heartbeat. Look at my face now vs. my face seven years ago. It's a lot thinner, right? I also knew--because how on earth could I not?--that I was being discriminated against in a historically unique way--which is to say, to a degree that no single other person ever has been, and that is not exaggeration--by an industry, where everyone knows what this guy is and that he's on a different level that is entirely his own. I would not be able to beat those bigots if I kept drinking like I did. I would have probably died of a heart attack in my forties or fifties.
I stopped drinking in large part because of the bigots of publishing. Because I am not going to roll over and be killed by these bigots and die in poverty and anonymity without the bulk of the world knowing my amazing work. I am not going to accept their discrimination and this abuse.
So I stopped drinking. I needed to become stronger. I became stronger. It was a choice I made one day. I based it upon a specific minute of the day. I actually gave myself a deadline. And I never looked back. I didn't falter. There was no temptation.
The reason I don't drink at all now is two-fold. I could have the drink of whisky right now, that'd be it, and I'd carry on. One of those reasons is because I am highly competitive. I am the most competitive person there has ever been. If you beat me at a board game, I don't care. But if you're a writer, I want to make you feel like you'd prefer to cease to exist with the difference between what I can do and what you can do. I want to crush you. I want you to feel all of the difference between my ability and yours. In a fair way. On a level playing field. Not a cheating way. A my best vs. your best way. I want to light your ass up like nothing else could light it up. And I'm understating this. And everyone knows they couldn't compete. Which is why all of these people don't want me to have anything approaching a level playing field. Because then it's game fucking over.
A small degree of that competitiveness rubbed off on my alcohol-free streak. I liked being able to add another week to the streak. I just like that.
Then there is this. I am terrified of doctors. You don't want to know the last time I went to a doctor. Not counting the ER, or a couple times to a cardiologist. I am full-on frightened into staying away. Which I need to work on. Because that's not good. I know this is irrational. I know it's not a great thing. It's something with which I struggle.
But being as I do struggle with that, it gives me peace of mind, as an irrational hypochondriac, to know that I take no alcohol and there is none in my system. It just makes me feel better. I also know that I am dealing with levels of stress that are humanly unprecedented. Drinking would be another stressor. Because I'd think, "Good God, what might alcohol being adding to all of this?" No matter if that was a small amount of alcohol.
Right now, I can control certain things, okay? Each and every time I write something, I can write something better than any human ever has or will. I can control that. So I do that. I can control the alcohol and limit one stressor. So I do that. I have control with my heart. So I run the stairs. These bigots? I can't control what they're doing right now. I'm in a war. I can ultimately have control when I have won that war, and at the various stages of the war as the war goes on and my position changes. But I don't know when the war will be fully won. The evil that these people do, the way they team up to try and stop me--which they're doing right now as I write this, because it's always happening--I can't police that and stop that directly. I'm not there. This blog makes a difference. And this blog is ultimately going to be a huge factor in how this war got won and I had all of the control I wanted in the end. But that's not this very moment. It might be next week. I don't know. I carry on in the meanwhile, as hard as I can, for as long as I have to. I can control my effort here. I can control that I make a point of doing things I don't want to do and exposing very bad people in these pages. I have that control.
You have to recognize what you can control now, what you can't control now, what you may control later. For me, anything else isn't really relevant, and I block it out.
But that's the drinking thing. That's what that was, is, and where it's at. It's not a daily battle. This war is the daily battle. Living with nonexistent quality of life is the daily battle. Having no support. No kindness. Being all alone for years and years and years. Being treated differently than anyone else is treated. Dealing with the passive aggressive bitchery and pettiness. Being feared. Being envied. Having thousands of people trying to stop you from getting what you deserve, what your work deserves, and what the world needs and should have with that wonderful, transformative work that can change lives and the world. And living with that. Feeling that horror and hell and that torture, which is worse than mere horror, mere hell, and mere torture. Hoping it changes. Trying to have faith that there will be the arrival of that long sought-for day while locked in a nightmare that never lets up, which plays out with you in some dungeon that might as well be buried in the center of the earth, where it's just you and this reality. That is the daily battle. Alcohol? Please.
Drinking was something I did too much of that I needed to stop doing, so I did, because that's the stuff and strength I'm made of. That's not a battle. That's something I had to do so I did it.
People have no idea what a battle can actually be.