Untruth & Consequences: I’m Tardsie, And I’m An Alcoholic Apparently

By Tardsie

The Potential To Be An Asshole Is Always There, But Whiskey Helps You Put It To Best Use. That’s Permanent Marker, By The Way.

Part 3 of 4: In which are observed new symptoms to the same regrettable behavior, a bottom is briefly reached, and alcohol is revealed to be the author of all my woes.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first two installments in this exciting series, Don’t Forget To Hurt and So Much Love To Share. If you miss them, you’ll also miss out on your 72 black-eyed virgins in heaven, so there’s that to think about.

My second experience with counselling was no better than the first, but at least was under somewhat different circumstances–this time I really was on drugs.

Also, it was my idea. Sort of.

In a successful bid to be readmitted to college after my expulsion,¹ I undertook a series of actions to demonstrate that I had once and for all forsaken my libertine ways: I went to Alcoholics Anonymous a couple of times, where I gained a respect for the venerable organization, if not a desire to become a part of it; I placed an ongoing ad in my college’s paper advertising the school’s counselling service (a meaningless gesture which claimed the lives of a great many trees, but was nonetheless wholeheartedly applauded by the administration); and visited a substance abuse counselor–a very bad one as it turns out.

Yeah, I Had To Suck A Lot Of Dick To Get Back Into School.

When I came to the counselor I had reached a point where I was the most receptive to substance abuse treatment I have been either before or since. Ironically, in our short time together, this earnest acceptance was about the only thing in me she managed to fix. I arrived a humble, chastened man, ready to open up to the therapist about my chemical intake so that I could get the help I was beginning to believe I so desperately needed. I told her the story of getting kicked out of school, and of the behaviors which had led to it. I was forthcoming about my increasingly heavy use of psychoactive drugs, and didn’t varnish the truth, even when it was uncomfortable.

When I was done, she surprised me by saying, “Well, I think it’s clear that you have a real problem with alcohol.”

Like It Apparently Helped Her Forget That I Was Smoking A Shitload Of Weed.

Although it’s true that I consumed a copious amount of alcohol in my early college years, it had tailed off substantially, and hadn’t played a significant role in my problems with the administration nor contributed meaningfully to my expulsion. Helpfully, I said, “Well, yeah…But, you know–I really think I might have more of a problem with marijuana these days.”

Some of the air seemed to fly from the room. She regarded me as a few frozen seconds ticked by. “The underlying problem is your alcoholism,” she said, her words deliberate and painted with a fatalistic urgency, “And that’s what we have to address first.”

It’s When You’re Just A Little Bit Inclined Toward A Certain Notion Or Ideology.

A little more cautiously, I said, “Well, it’s just that I don’t drink very much any more, and I smoke marijuana pretty much every day, so…”

“It’s alcohol,”² she said, making it clear that not only was the issue closed for discussion, but that I had made an enemy. I saw her once or twice more and talked about my alcoholism. As with my previous experience, it seemed like the best thing for everybody would be for me to just stop going.

It’s Like I Tell My Kids–Being Honest Never Did Anybody Any Good.

However, writing this series has given me an opportunity to reexamine these events in my life beyond the degree to which I have already explored them. As such, I conducted a statistical analysis of my current alcohol and marijuana intake to see how the therapist’s theory plays out over the long run.

Over the past 30 days I’ve had 3 glasses of wine (2 at Killers Concert in Las Vegas 12.28.12, 1 on New Year’s Eve) at 5 ounces each for 15 ounces total, and 1.5 beers (1 beer on New Year’s Eve, split beer with brother-in-law on New Year’s Day) at 12 ounces each for 18 ounces total. Taken altogether, I’ve consumed 33 ounces of alcohol in the last month. Although I can’t peg my marijuana intake with that same accuracy, it can safely be claimed that I’ve consumed no more than 8 ounces of the reefer, less than a quarter of my alcohol consumption during that same period. Statistics don’t lie.

An Alcoholic Never Knows When He’ll Slip. Will My Next Drink Come In Two Weeks At A Super Bowl Party Or Two Months From Now? Sometime In Between? You Think About It, I’ll Smoke A Bowl.

In the final installment, I’m sent to someone who does me a little good. Be sure to join us when we revisit DRUG SCHOOL!

¹The expulsion was for LSD, a decidedly non-addictive hallucinogen that turns your brain into an eight-hour laser-light show. This fact becomes significant in light of the silliness which follows. ∞ T.
²And in hindsight, okay–yeah, I see what she was trying to say. I simply substituted an addiction to alcohol for one to the sweet, sweet cheeba, and that while there are superficial differences in the symptoms, the underlying sickness remains the same. While I don’t accept that as an absolute, I do recognize some truth in it. However, that knowledge was hard-won through years of living, so I’m not sure what was accomplished by the therapist going full OmegaBitch on me right out of the gate like that. A valid observation does fuck all good for anybody when it’s wielded like an ax. ∞ T.
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34 Responses to Untruth & Consequences: I’m Tardsie, And I’m An Alcoholic Apparently

  1. Holy shit! The guy holding that beer stein looks EXACTLY like a dude I dated!

  2. Your Words Always Make Me Smile, RK. You’re Always Able To Bring Out The Humor In Practically Anything, Even When It’s Something That One Normally Wouldn’t Consider Amusing. You Know How Much I Appreciate You And Your Work, So I’m Very Ready For Part IV ;)
    Take It Easy Broseph!

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, my man–I’ve enjoyed writing them. I definitely look back on these things with laughter, but it’s true also that even during these events, I was able to see much of the humor in it. I sometimes think that’s my big saving grace. I’m not a particularly “hard” person emotionally; I’m actually fairly sensitive (and I don’t mean in the pussy ‘you hurt my feelings’ kind of way), but humor helps me see the big picture.

      And making somebody smile is a pretty good thing I think. It makes me smile to hear it.

  3. True… Axes aren’t the gentlest form of communicating….! Perhaps a little oil of understanding may have wielded a better perspective…! However, to be sure; not all oils is oils…!

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks for reading, Carolyn. And playing devil’s advocate, which thanks to my perverse nature, I so love to do, you could make an argument that the therapist’s blunt, confrontational manner was the thing that started me thinking about what she said. Moreover, I don’t doubt that there are people who are helped by that approach, but I think if you’re truly in the industry of helping people, you have to change up your style for best effect.

      And can I say that “oils is oils” is a lovely idiom? I hadn’t previously heard it, and in doing a search for it, the only hit I got came from an .AU domain. Crikey, Aussies say the darndest things (which I mean with all affection).

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    Hmm, I’m thinking that therapist needed a few more years of fermentation before being unleashed to the public. Doesn’t exactly fit the type of person you’d want to ‘open up’ to.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Yeah, when your job is confronting people with unpleasant truths, it might help to remember that sometimes you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

      In the final installment I relate my meeting with someone who possessed that certain cocktail of toughness, creativity, intelligence and compassion to at least make me take a hard look at my overuse of the reefer. She was cool.

      Thanks for reading, Carrie!

  5. Brigitte says:

    Sometimes you get the right person to talk to and sometimes you don’t. Whatever she did or didn’t do, you’re the one who set your course. You tell your stories, I’m guessing you consider some of these things very painful but you do it with great humor, insight and that self-deprecating thing you do (I can so relate)’ is well, very endearing, Smak. Love these installments.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Brigitte, I very much appreciate your thoughtful (and thought-provoking; see below) comments. I’ve enjoyed writing these (and as you alluded, they are of particular significance to me), so it’s especially gratifying to know that you liked it.

      Your typically insightful comment regarding ‘painful memories’ gave me something to chew over. Typically, when I “remember” these stories (and it would be true to say that a hundred or perhaps even more such stories might fly through my head on any given day–a condition I suspect is not at all uncommon), they’re largely just detailed summaries, sometimes funny, but typically pain-free.

      However, when I revisit them in more detail, either in telling someone or particularly, as here, in writing it, there is a certain degree of pain to the memory. It’s still pain, but it’s acquired a degree of sweetness over the years.

      I’ve been very fortunate in that, except for two or three relatively-short instances (two weeks is the longest), I’ve never had to contend with intense physical pain. Likewise, I don’t think people function well when they’re wracked by mental pain. But for me, just a little bit of mental pain is a good thing, I think.

      The best example I can give is my mom, whose been gone for many years now. I don’t ever want there to be a time when I think about her that I don’t hurt just a tiny bit. It reminds me of what I had.

      Lastly, thank you for seeing my style as self-deprecating. I don’t really notice it, because it’s just how I write/think/talk (although I can be quite arrogant as well). But the reason I appreciate you seeing it that way is that so often (although rarely here on PT) I find people misconstrue my meaning, and tell me things like “Don’t be so down on yourself” or “Get over it.”

      Sorry for the long-winded reply, but you made me think about stuff.

  6. So you drink some alcohol and smoke some weed. I’m sorry, what’ the problem? I mean, you’re not operating heavy machinery or flying planes for a living, right? If you were my next door neighbor, I would only turn you in if you refused to share. :)

    • Smaktakula says:

      Then you’d be on the phone to the 5-0 with a quickness, my brother–I’m a notorious bogart!

      Nah, not really. But I might drive down the property values in your neighborhood. Just look at my neighborhood. I moved in in 2007, and since then, housing values have plummeted, never to return to their pre-Smaktakula levels. Sadly, this seems to have precipitated to have been a ripple effect throughout the country. Sorry about that, folks.

  7. It felt a bit weird reading this. The therapist sounnded like she needed help more urgently than you. Certainly she needed help with listening. I’m glad this is not the end of the tale

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Ducks! You know, feeling weird is an appropriate response, I think. You felt something, right?

      I felt a little weird about writing it, knowing that, without any context whatsoever, it might seem a little bit hopeless. Normal people don’t like to see people destroying themselves, particularly when it appears that some part of them knows they’re doing it. I don’t think that way about this period in my life now, but at that point, I’d been made to believe that my behavior was fucking things up for everybody, and I tried to tap into a little bit of that despair. If you haven’t already, and you get the chance, check out the first installment, Don’t Forget To Hurt. It paints a better picture of how I view these events now.

      I definitely appreciate your thoughts!

  8. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I keep going back to the part where you say some of the air seemed to fly from the room and you had made an enemy. I would think that one of the best skills required for a therapist would have to be a good listener – it sounds like she shut you out and didn’t really want to HEAR what you were saying. (that would make me feel judged and uncomfortable – two things you wouldn’t want in counseling).
    Your humor was great in this one. You definitely have an uncanny ability to provoke laughter.
    My only experience with a professional counselor was when my dad died. I was sad and didn’t smile too much (my dad had died) I went back to work after 2 weeks and was still sad. My boss (who was close to my immediate family) more or less threatened me – either go to grief counseling or I COULD say your grief is affecting your work – which it wasn’t. I was just sad (my dad had died). She was worried about me (even though that pissed me off to hell and back – I wanted to grieve in my own way) I went to counseling – once. I told the counselor I felt forced into coming – she agreed it was wrong, anything else you wanna talk about? I told her I would come in from work and drink a couple of beers to unwind – was I an alcoholic? She actually laughed and said something like – it was a very American thing to do and no she didn’t think I had a drinking problem. I left feeling better – go figure.

  9. calahan says:

    My guess is that the counselor had written her thesis on recognizing alcohol dependency and really, really wanted to put it to practical use. “It’s an alcohol problem.” “No, it’s more about my fetishizing nuns.” “Exactly, alcohol.” “I don’t think you’re hearing me. I’ve never had a drink in my life, I’m really…” “Denial. Classic symptom of alcohol addiction.”

  10. Counseling is one of those things that’s highly subjective. A good counselor is one who listens and helps you identify and then work with your particular issues rather than one who tries to shove you in the first available diagnostic box. I’ve seen two really good counselors in my life, and several abysmal ones. I’ll never forget the one who pretty much just threw a book on co-dependency at me and said that had all the answers for my problems. That was just plain goofy, especially considering it’s pretty hard to be co-dependent when you’re in the middle of a divorce.

    The best counselor I’ve seen encouraged me to do some detective work on my own, and let me know that it might be wise to talk with my medical Dr. regarding the anxiety and depression that plagued me for years. (It was- I needed some pharmaceutical help as well as counseling.)

    I still keep a blog where I muse around on just about everything (there are no sacred cows in my world) and that sort of journaling activity is most cathartic. Sometimes it’s even funny. It makes me organize my thoughts and more importantly to examine myself. It’s been awhile since I’ve needed that kind of help, but I am glad that she gave me some needed navigational lessons.

  11. El Guapo says:

    My own research convinces me that those 33 oz compared to the 8 oz are not equal measurements, sort of like comparing equal amounts of puppies and PIRHANAS!DEARGOGETTHEMOFFME!!!

    • El Guapo says:

      (Eager comment posting you have here. To continue…)
      I also wonder (as do many above) what qualifications and experience she had. I wonder if she was more interested in just justifying her professional existence.

      Also, there was one question unanswered, which is surprising considering your previous counseling:
      And did you want to sleep with her?

      • Smaktakula says:

        And did you want to sleep with her?

        An excellent question! Had I encountered her when I was sixteen years old, almost certainly. But as a college student, even one who was notoriously unpicky, I figured I could probably do better.

    • Smaktakula says:

      That made me laugh out loud. I like it when that happens.

      Regarding your very accurate observation re: the equality of weights and measures, I’m gonna trot out a favorite movie line which I’ll also be featuring in my final U&C post: “Where’d you learn that, Cheech? Drug School?”

  12. That counselor sounded so rigid, I would have taken up smoking pot while drinking.

    • Smaktakula says:

      That might be what the modern version of me would do. At the time, I’d been very much made to feel ashamed (which of course is deceptive language; no one can MAKE you ashamed) for my behavior, and I was determined to change. Although several months later I did begin to drink and recreationally use drugs again, it was never to the same extent as before. As the hiatus was a good thing, perhaps some of the shame was as well.

      One thing you might find grimly amusing (and ‘amusing’ isn’t quite the right word–this isn’t meant to be funny) is at the same time that I was being kicked out of school, another guy I knew was facing accusations from five different women ranging from improper sexual contact to out-and-out date rape. I knew the guy and four of his accusers (it was a very small school), and although no one can ever know what happens between two people and I do not automatically side with the accuser, I wholeheartedly believe those women were telling the truth.

      I got kicked out of school, he didn’t. The administration was really freaked out about liability issues stemming from drug use (some 17-year old kid visiting his sister had leapt from a second or third floor window a few weeks before), and thought that it rated more action than did simple sexual assault.

      There is a happy note, of sorts. The accused rapist had political ambitions, and he had connections. If not for these events, who knows? The Republican party might have an exciting new face on the national stage.

      • Smaktakula says:

        I should also point out that the young man who leapt from a window wasn’t killed. I doubt I would have been as blase about it in that instance.

      • Funny (and like you, not ha ha funny) what that school considered a priority. Unload the nonviolent pothead but keep the sex offender because all of his accusers must have been lying, right?

  13. Alex Autin says:

    Reading these installments has made me realize that I’ve never in my life talked to a counselor, a therapists, or really anyone who was paid to listen to me. Hmmm…

    And as Guapo points out — there is a difference between fluid ounces and dry ounces…. one being a measurement of volume and the other a measurement of weight. I suggest you start to weigh all alcohol before consuming, then you can (perhaps) more accurately compare it to your weed consumption….

  14. I think your therapist liked smoking weed…that’s what was going on there. Denial. That’s my theory. But I think you’re right. It’s just substituting one for the other and doesn’t really matter what it is. She kind of missed the point perhaps.

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