If my life isn’t where I want it to be at 27, I’ll do something drastic. If I still feel like I’m a failure in life by then, I’ll get rid of my worst habit. All through my twenties I told myself that. Then my 27th birthday was approaching and I freaked out. I looked at my life. It was in disarray. I was in LA living with no furniture, selling drugs, and drinking a bottle of scotch every night. I couldn’t even stay awake past 8PM to eat the chicken I was cooking. I had a lot of spices in my kitchen but no food. There were empty bottles all over and empty coke bags in the pantry. Clearly I failed at something. So I got rid of my worst habit:
I fired my therapist.
See the irony? I didn’t wanna admit my real problem, and that was my biggest problem. Only thing is… It’s kinda hard to get rid of something when I won’t admit to myself that something’s there. If I won’t look at what’s really going on, how will I fix it? What is really going on Greg, huh? What’s your life about right now? Need some help idiot?
YOU’RE A FUCKING ALCOHOLIC YOU LUNATIC! Why’d ya fire your fuckin therapist?!
So yeah, clearly there were bigger problems in my life than possibly a shitty therapist. I wonder if I would still be a failure in life if I was sober? I wonder how things would be different?
But What if I Fail and I Can’t Get Sober?
I decided to talk this thing out with someone who could relate: my ex-girlfriend. She lived in Georgia now and was sober as far as I knew. It had been about five years since we broke up in tragic fashion when I spoke to her on that day and said:
“Look you don’t understand. It’s not that I don’t want to quit; it’s that I can’t quit. I’ll break out into seizures probably. My body needs it.”
“Oh believe me, I understand,” she told me.
After the call I needed a xanax. Then some weed. Then I opened a bottle of whisky. Let’s table this thought for now. It’s not my birthday yet anyway…
Then something shitty happened…
An Alcoholic’s Last Drink
My friend from Long Island called me a day or two later. I’d known her my whole life. She had just lost her agent (she was a makeup artist) and her career was in limbo. I told her to come visit me in LA.
When she arrived it wasn’t the best of days. I told her nothing about my life in LA. It was gross, but I told her I had plenty of money and friends and the weather was beautiful. All lies, except for the weather. I picked her up from the airport in my rented car from Hertz. Right. I never bought a car. I just kept renting new ones every month for like a thousand bucks cause I was too drunk to figure out how to purchase a vehicle. Anyway, I picked her up in my bright yellow Fiat they rented to me after I was an asshole to the Hertz guy at the register and brought her back to my apartment.
“Where’s your bed?” She asked as she looked at all the empty bottles of scotch littered throughout the apartment.
“It’s just this,” I said nervously trying to clean up and move shit outa sight.
“That’s a mattress pad,” she explained with a grossed out look on her face.
“Yeah, uh… I can buy a bed.”
I was so embarrassed, but also I was confused. Why did she think the apartment was so ugly? I was delusional now that I think back on it. Anyway, I went out to buy a mattress and came back like I was some hero.
Look at me! I bought a mattress all by myself!
What a clown I was…
Things Were Messier Than I Thought…
I also never told her I had a roommate. A chick roommate. That I was fucking. That was eighteen.
“So you two live together in one room?” She asked.
“Well, yeah. But it’s not like that. She’s awesome,” I told her. “She goes to FIDM.” As if that made the situation any less confusing…
I filled up a glass of scotch and took a big gulp then hid it in the cabinet. I don’t think she saw that, but I had to do it cause the last thing I wanted was for her to think I was an alcoholic or something… What if I fail to hide how much I drink?
Maybe this was a bad idea, I was thinking. She probably thought I was a failure in life now too. I mean shit, I failed at furniture, that’s for sure. Now I can’t even drink in peace about it.
Then one day I fingered her in the parking lot of the Nissan dealership. I was finally ready to buy a car and I guess that made her horny.
So we started dating…
Now I really had to hide the whisky. She started saying stuff about how much I drank so I had to keep a lid on it as much as I could. Then my 27th birthday arrived. Okay. This is when I knew I had to do something big. This was the day of truly measuring who I was.
Am I a Failure in Life?
I wasn’t sure. Wait. No, I was sure. I was definitely not doing so well. I made a list in my head of who I was. I was 27 with no direction, weird goals (like never buy a house and live off the road forever), and crazy ideas that landed me in jail every now and again, like buying weed and getting caught at border patrol on the border of Mexico. But anyway, for my birthday it was an off day cause it was obvious she wanted to celebrate with me, but also obvious she didn’t wanna encourage my drinking.
But she asked anyway if I wanted to go to the strip club and I said of course.
“One drink,” she told me. “And no driving.”
I negotiated two drinks and no driving.
Seven drinks later I got in my car and started driving. I made a huge scene. I woke up at 5AM and didn’t know what happened. I looked around. Where is she? Oh. Fuck. There she is. On the futon on the other side of the room. Then I looked and saw my roommate curled up in a ball on the floor. That was new. Usually we slept in the same bed after we fucked but now that I had a sorta girlfriend that all had to come to an end. Then I looked at my phone.
There was a text.
Sorry I couldn’t get the blow mate.
That was from my British neighbor. There were many more texts before that last one that I didn’t remember sending. They started at around 1AM I saw.
Then it all came back…
Immediately the entire last night rushed behind my eyelids as I tried to get back to sleep. I saw myself screaming at my friend and calling her names. Screaming at the bouncer. Screaming at the valet parking guy. I saw myself doing many things on the corner of Sunset and La Brea. I saw people looking at me. I felt the steering wheel in my grip. I felt my foot press the pedal as far down as it would go. I felt myself take the car as fast as it would drive around the block. I saw terrified drivers looking at me. I saw my car being parked at the gas station by the valet parker dude. I woke up. There was nothing other than that.
That’s when I knew there was only one failure in life I had achieved: not taking care of my alcoholism. I was a drunk.
I went to a meeting that day and have not had a drink since. That was over 9 years ago. I now earn a living doing legal shit. Turns out all I had to do was try…
The moral of the story is this: If all you do this year is get rid of your worst habit, it’ll be the most successful year of your life.
Now here’s a story about a big wolf…