Towards the end of active addiction, my sallow skin would not rejuvenate without a shot of tequila. I would take the drink, then another; I’d decide that a half a blunt would be a fine compliment. I’d spin onto the psychiatrist’s couch or into the dealer’s passenger seat. I knew what I wanted to say, who I wanted to be for these people; intoxication coupled with days of isolation left me an incoherent stranger. I’d get what I wanted, plus a couple looks of concern. These uncomfortable exchanges were the extent of my interaction with the world outside of my head. I’d choke myself on the kush and become Peter Fonda in ‘Easy Rider’: reflective, handsome, coolly detached, free.
In sobriety, I’m a bit less delusional. Still, I tend to attach myself to individuals whose emotional wounds run deep. My desired role alternates between savior and partner in aberrant crime; these personas are most prominent in active addiction, though I have seen their faces in sobriety. Both are unhealthy: The savior is dangerously invested in the lady’s life; he relishes her success so long as he is responsible. Any man she finds inspirational is somehow corrupt; his intentions cannot be pure as the Savior’s. He longs to be her martyr.
The partner in crime loves to be seduced out from the shadow of conscience. He is the rebel; the no-holds-barred, impulsive-driven antihero. If life is a highway, he’s off-roading with a bottle of Jim Beam. The partner in crime feeds off of the lady’s worst judgment; each raises the stakes until there seems no option but to stick up an outside poker game for cash. The partner in crime tells himself that the lady is as poor of an influence on him as he is on her; perhaps, but this does not justify his depravity. Her self-worth is his sacrifice.
Both of these roles are about control as a form of dependence; a psychological invasion. The savior does not want the lady to be happy, healthy, and self-reliant; so his selflessness cannot be love. The partner in crime wants to take the lady to new lows; he tests her commitment to self-destruction. If she snaps, the partner in crime was somehow mentally superior; a stronger specimen. He won. If he snaps, so be it. Now he can really embrace his alcoholism. If both snap, they were soul mates of sadomasochism.
In these relationships, lust is present at the outset. However, it loses significance as the bruising bond turns black. The obsession is hypodermic. She is his remedy, dependency, and disease; she awakens to him and cannot remember her dreams.
In sobriety, the law of attraction still holds; I draw insecure, jaded people into my realm as they draw me into theirs. However, I now recognize my old defective patterns as they emerge: jealousy, manipulation, betrayal of values. I have learned to care about a woman without making her the focal point of my life, and without needing to be the focal point of hers. I can actually listen and respond with authenticity, rather than calculated concern. Insecurity is still a guiding force in my life; however, I challenge this through vulnerability with others. I seek empowerment through connection rather than power through deception. As scared as I may be, I know that the selective truth will not set me free.
By: Mike M.