The Relapse Trilogy Intro: What a Coincidence
I vowed in my wedding that I would learn to love this woman and my relapsing’s a sign that I’ve learned fuck all. Nothing of value, anyway. On the title page of the epic manuscript I wrote about how I cured my life-long addictions—actually I didn’t say cured, I said curated, but still, this was my book about my living a wholesome life starting at one year and going past ten years abstinent, going way beyond recovery, that’s what I thought, and no doubt I put in the book somewhere that the words cured and curated stem from the same root—and on the title page or could be the frontispiece I quote American cowboy actor John Wayne: “Life’s tough,” he said.
“Tougher if you’re stupid.”
Well, that was then—and now, married for six-and-a-half years, clean for I dunno, fifteen—where’re we at now? Other than I’m looking up from the bottom of a deep well of depression and anxiety at a loving wife who’s feeling like I hurt her so bad she’s, like, numb.
I’d said to myself, something like: “I work hard, I done good, and now all I want to do is to take a break, have a nice time: smoke a joint, which is legal here, and watch a porn video. Pornhub, a Canadian company with 178 million viewers per day globally and in Canada four million, gets more views than Netlflix or Amazon. Views taken by men, and I’m a man. I am an average Canadian male. The Average Canadian Male Viewer, is me.”
Are you listening to how my average brain was talking to itself there? Okay, thanks, but there’s more. Way more. Are you agreeing with what I’m saying? I hope to hell not but if you are you should definitely listen up. If you care about relationships with other human beings, for example especially.
I don’t know, but in more than ten years of recovery and beyond, writing this book, which I bled but which has so far in its entirety been read by only one other person: my friend Bruce. Bruce K. Alexander, famous for his rat park experiments, and my mentor in addiction studies, one of world’s foremost experts—he thinks it’s a great book, by the way—and for years he kept asking me how it was that I recovered so successfully. Despite never denying that combining drugs and sex is such a wildly pleasurable, egregiously exciting enterprise. Why me, recovered, cured even, where others including all my previous selves fail spectacularly despite marshalling considerable and concerted efforts? Yeah-no, I mean, good question but I never knew the answer, never had the lightbulb moment or logical explanation for how and why I’d achieved such a convincing and durable recovery. Which, anyway, I prefer to refer to as an uncovery, defined by how it went right through, to an unearthing and mutating of the roots of my addictions. Roots which are right here in our addicted culture, and are tangled up with the roots that when I was a traumatized kid were implanted in my psyche, along with roots prepared for addictions in my genes. Another curatorial clue to the word uncovery might be how in my long-time Buddhist practice I kinda like disappeared my falsely-supposed CEO self. And there is instead of said self: consciousness, such-ness, transformative awareness. Goodness, even. Because in mindfulness, my selves, I could sorta like disappear them—and then, to stride, existence-wide, over the mountains and under the stars, to become one with the universe of ten thousand things, and so on and so on et cetera. Used to do really a lot of acid, too, and not just when I was a child in the sixties.
And so when Bruce would ask me how I’d gotten so totally recovered slash uncovered, I’d come out with something like: “I don’t know, man, you know? Yeah-no, I just don’t know eh.”
Until I finally figured out exactly what was the hugest part of my success, which did finally come after many, many failures, multiple relapses, and hospital admissions due to numerous ODs and an NDE, that’s a near death experience—that was rich:
“Luck! Right here, you’re looking at a very lucky guy.” And it’s true, because, like, for anybody, being lucky enough to be able to keep on doing the do things for f’ing ever—well then, if some other things meanwhile mayhap don’t happen, anybody’s most likely going to be able to keep clear of using, and recover, and if he or she, instead of relapse or suicide, keeps on doing the good, wholesome things, and then if they keep on digging, you know, questioning, most likely for them there’ll also be what I like to call an uncovery. And along with it an accompanying wellness, and maybe even here and there a bit of flourishing. Plus, I think, at least I hope, you get some understanding, some insight, into the sources of our absurdly and inextricably knotty but really not abnormal, yet still soul-withering, bad habits. And furthermore, in the typically gradual but sometimes quite eventful—like, my getting married, again—process of growing up, people can step right up and out of their stories. All stories are lies anyway, I mean, come on. We make this stuff up. You take out the parts that are just blind luck and what’s left? Yeah-no, I know it’s natural for us to occasionally, coincidentally, get together with our fellow lucky believers and whoop it up: put our pics up on the walls of the caves, which is an ancient and original example of our curating. Religion and churches came along later and pretty much wrecked it, but still, you know, if you know what you’re doing, you’re really doing it to music.
Coincidences, good luck. With which in spades blessed, I was, and maybe still am, I don’t know.
Or, coincidences and bad luck. Which is what I got for eight days at the end of the eighth month of this fucking pandemic. Ah shit, here comes my story again and I have to tell it, and all I can do is try really really hard to tell it accurately.