This led me to realize that I employed not-very-constructive means to cope with what seemed like an ever-present loneliness and almost daily spells where I had to spend long periods of time by myself. My smoking, drinking, and drug use became the go-to means by which I would cope with loneliness and being alone. My friends all partied pretty hardy, so they were of no help either.
I remember one night in October of 2001, maybe the 21st or 22nd, when this realization hit me, and for once I spent the evening in my apartment doing some cleaning and not using drugs or alcohol. I vowed to at least spend more time by myself in more such constructive ways, and after some days and weeks of this, I became confident enough to try to quit smoking. I joined a support group and started on the patch and the gum at the same time.
My realization of how my substance abuse tied in with my feelings of loneliness and fear of being alone seemed to trigger such a strong desire to finally quit the smoking that no amount of relapses during the following year deterred me from my ultimate goal. I finally ditched the patch in the Summer of 2002 in favor of Zyban, continued to go to Nicotine Anonymous (somebody copyrighted the name Smokers Anonymous to try to make money, and so the free one became Nicotine Anonymous), and achieved my goal of quitting smoking.
The next big realization in turning it around for me came in the early morning hours of December 28th, 2008. I had a six pack I was working on while I watched a bad movie titled Blood Freak. A couple of days before Christmas of that year, some people were over at my house. It was me, two guys and two girls. One of the guys had a live-in girlfriend back at his house, and the understanding about the other guy and one of the girls seemed to be that these two were trying to close a sex deal. So they started making out on my couch, I lived in an 850 square foot house, so to kind give them a little room I went to see what was up in my bedroom, where my male friend had gone to lie down because he was so drunk.
The other girl, whom I had something of an interest in, had gone in my bedroom before I did. I went in my bedroom, and this other girl lay in bed with her clothes off talking to my fully clothed drunk friend. Okay, so I was a third fucking wheel in my own fucking house that night.
As I watched the late night showing of Blood Freak the following Friday night/ Saturday morning, I had another epiphany. The epiphany consisted of the realization that this lifestyle seemed to be working out fine for my drunk friend with the live-in girlfriend at home and the other girlfriend in bed with him at my house, but it really wasn't doing so much for in the relationship with women department.
This realization triggered such a strong desire in me to finally quit drinking and drugs that, for one, after I finished that six pack that night while watching the movie, I've never had a drink of alcohol since, and, though I used some drugs after that, the last time was when I smoked a little pot in 2012.
The third epiphany came after many years of banging my head against the wall in the massive effort I've been making to improve my relationship with women. I realized that an experiment I tried in 1988 to "turn my back on love" might not have been such a bad idea after all. For those newcomers, the post, "i'm not bad," from January 2016 first covers that topic at length. I write about this experiment many times in subsequent posts, and all of the things that it did for me, and I look at it from any angles in many posts.
Last night I wondered if I would go through a prolonged period of dark loneliness as a consequence of my latest employment of the "turn my back on love" experiment. A couple of posts back I wrote about how I've decided that I don't want to patronize a particular food service establishment any more. After I decided to give that move a try for mainly financial reasons at first, I figured out that I went to this place that employed a lot of attractive young women because being around these young women made me feel as if I played some part in the whole love and dating game. I decided that maybe my patronization of that business amounted to too much of a psychic crutch, and that I might want to try to make some of the food and beverage items I enjoyed there at home instead.
Anyway, last night I wondered if I had set myself up for a bit of hurt in the loneliness department with this latest move. I remembered reading a book titled Son of a Gun, by Justin St. Germaine, that was a memoir of his and his mother's life, her troubled relationship with men, and her death at the hands of her fifth husband. One passage of the book detailed a year when Justin was about fourteen or fifteen when they lived in a shotgun shack in Tombstone, Arizona, and how her mother valiantly tried to live man free.
Justin talked about how he would go out at all hours doing petty juvenile delinquent nonsense, while his mother would stay at home, alone, in that little shack, and just cry for long periods of time. Justin remembered this as a relatively happy time in his childhood, because there were, at least, no abusive men around.
So I wondered, if by cutting myself off from these women at this business, if I'd set myself up for the kind of failure that Justin's mom ultimately experienced after man-free year had passed and she went back to her usual dysfunctional ways with men. But, maybe a half-hour later, I realized that I'd been successful in the past with similar moves; with the cigarettes, and the drugs and alcohol, and that, so far, I've not wavered in those commitments. Those commitments I made have led to the lasting changes that I'd sought for so long, that I had no reason to really believe that my efforts to meaningfully deal with Love Addiction these past several years would end in failure.
The phrase, "Taking the bull by the horns," really presented itself to me as to how effectively the insights that I'd gleaned in those first two big efforts really put me on the path where I am today. I've talked at length about the war-of-the-sexes skirmishes and pitched battles that I've successfully fought, and the ways that winning at that kind of bullshit lead to insights that no amount of losing back in the '80's and early '90's had ever managed to help me. Losing at those games never helped me even half as much as beating someone like the Invisible Woman like a gong has helped me.
Last Wednesday night, I tried to sit up and count how many times I've had to make intelligent decisions about women in my world since, say, 2007, and I came up with forty plus women in various scenarios and instances, both big and small. Not all the decisions involved adversarial women, but the large majority did, absolutely, involve women who went adversarial on me to a greater or lesser extent. Why, just today I ran an errand, and if I had been with a friend, I could have pointed to an attractive woman that I saw and said, "Oh look, there's someone who represented themselves as something they weren't to me once upon a time. Now, was that last year. or the year before? Oh, I must be getting old, I've lost track."