The Problem With Getting High
I shouldn’t need anything extra just to feel normal.
In the past few days, I have been running an experiment. I’ve been drinking coffee just to see what it does for me. I’ve been trying it at different times of the day just to see how I respond. I think it’s been 4 or 5 days now, and I feel fine, but it’s just that sense of lack, that sense of needing something extra that really bugs me. That feeling of “not enough” reminded me of why I stopped doing anything else, pot, beer, sugar, whatever. All of that stuff is designed for dependence. I shouldn’t need anything else just to feel normal again.
In other words, when we take something to alter our mood, be it a cup of coffee or a pot brownie, a pile of money, a fast car, or a trophy wife, we’re using something outside of our bodies to establish a new normal. That’s not our intention when we start, though. We just want to change the way we feel to something else, something other than how we feel now. For a moment, we cannot accept how we feel, so we take something through the mouth usually, to change how we feel.
A few days ago, my wife had bought this bag of Mocha mix. I don’t know why I said yes, but I said yes and we got it. I’m a morning person, so I don’t need caffeine, but I know how I feel when I’m on caffeine. I get a little giddy, a little high, maybe even a little too enthusiastic about customer service. But we bought it anyway and I tried it for a few days.
I wound up staying up too late a few nights. Waking up way too early on other nights. Feeling tired at times, and then thinking that I needed the coffee. Or maybe I wanted that buzz. But having that buzz, reminded me of all the reasons why I like to be sober. When I’m sober, I need nothing else to be normal. Being high on coffee isn’t sober to me.
I remember my final weeks of smoking pot, my drug of choice, some 28 years ago. I was tired of pretending. I was tired of thinking I was fine when I wasn’t. I was tired of using something outside of me just to be normal. I was tired of spending the money on it. I was tired of sneaking around to use it. I was tired of who I had become, being stoned all the time. Drinking coffee for the last few days reminded me of all of that.
So I got sober. It wasn’t really that hard. I went to therapy. I did meetings, counseling, writing…lots and lots of writing…and I felt my feelings again. I remember trying pot again a month later. I felt numb. I knew then that I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to know how I felt at all times. I wanted my senses about me.
I got into the patriot movement while sober, too. I really needed my senses about me then. I spent a few weeks as a “state citizen”, driving around without a license or license plate. My car got towed. My life went down. My mom helped me so many times. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had submerged into this culture that also didn’t really know what they were doing. I was renting a room and living under the table. I had a pretty easy life for a while. Nothing seemed to matter, and I was sober, but not really.
I was on one long string of a low, steady hum of adrenaline. Protesting taxes, living on sprouts, watching Ally McBeal in the evenings, working for a shitty little “gold bank” for $6 an hour with no benefits for a guy who didn’t know how to smile, and paying no taxes on that. I had nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing anything, really, but I was high every day on adrenaline.
Worrying about getting towed. Worrying about letters from the IRS. Worrying about what to do next. I didn’t have a girlfriend, hardly ever saw my family, no rudder, no compass, no money, no nothing. But I was high. I was filing FOIA requests in my own business helping people deal with the IRS. I met people at the IRS and saw that they too, were human. I loved writing the requests and reviewing the documents and sending invoices for my work and getting paid. I loved winning appeals. I was making rent. It all sort of worked out. But this wasn’t going to lead to a home and a family. I could not do this forever.
I’m playing this song in my head, “Let ’Em In”, by Paul McCartney. I needed to let them in. You know, those other people that kind of buzz around me. I started to get real jobs with a W2 again. I went to meetings. I got out of debt. I started dating. I was working out again. I did a little college. I really started to get it that I didn’t need something outside of myself to be happy.
I did all that. I didn’t accomplish much by today’s maniacal standards of wealth, but I gathered a wealth of information through introspection that many people miss, even after a lifetime of trying to know who they are. I know who I am. In the last few days of drinking coffee, I remembered who I was and who I am now.
I’m a father now. I have a home now. I have a dream job now. Well, it’s not a job as a writer, but in the context of the pandemic, it’s a dream job. I work from home. I help people. I get paid. I just do the job the way I think it should be done and my managers are happy. I was told by one of my managers that I will always have a job there if I want it. I don’t know how long it will last, but I want it and I’m happy to have it. I have it because I’m sober now.
I’m sober because I trust my brain. I’m sober now because I know that my brain is a 2.5 million-year-old pharmacy. It makes whatever I need to make when I need it. I from this pharmacy, I can get very high-quality dopamine, adrenaline, and oxytocin. I will never, ever run out of this stuff. And all I gotta do is act naturally.