Chi has once again shocked me with his resolve and determination to make a highly improbable major life change.
Listen while you read to “Drunkard’s Blues” from the “red side” of the Panache Orchestra’s dual album, “10 Strings”.
ca. late June – early July 2012
I never thought this would ever happen. NEVER! EVER! But then again, I never thought that Chi would quit smoking, and he did on June 8, 2008 and has never relapsed, even though he was an even more insufferable asshole than usual for a few months during the acute withdrawal phase. Those few especially hellish months notwithstanding, this development has been an unqualified net positive.
Chi has quit drinking hard alcohol. I still can’t believe it, so I’ll say it again: Chi. Has. Quit. Drinking. Hard. Alcohol. I am now wondering whether smoking three packs of cigarettes that contain so much tar they’re illegal in California (or the entire US?) was as inextricably intertwined in his core identity of a rock musician as consuming absurd amounts of hard alcohol every single day of his life just on general principle. What prompted this change was having to abort our Memorial Day barbeque midway through when he began having acute pain around the area where he’d had his gall bladder removed just over a year ago and almost had me take him to the emergency room. He didn’t end up going though, but it apparently gave him pause for thought.
He still smokes pot nearly every day. I don’t like that. In fact, I really hate that because few things irk me more than being taken hostage by some person yammering drug-addled nonsense at me ad nauseum when I have an infinite number of far less annoying things to do. However, he smokes considerably less dope than he used to with cigarettes because he only smokes the weed at night, and uses it for a specific purpose: to enhance his creativity while practicing. I personally don’t think it’s true that marijuana enhances creativity, but if he wants to believe it does, that’s his business. I do however believe that marijuana has healing properties and is an effective pain reliever, so has a legitimate purpose when properly applied. That said, apparently a new series of medical studies has come out recently strongly suggesting that marijuana use lowers IQ (which is borne out in my experience with Chi and other people!), suggests a strong causal relationship to development of testicular cancer (never heard of that correlation before), and one more problem I can’t remember right offhand but couldn’t find that article again to refresh my memory. (Maybe it was BS and they retracted it?)
That is my long, roundabout way of saying that I have less of a problem with him smoking pot because he does it for a specific reason, which makes it at least somewhat more defensible because it doesn’t have the total lack of conscious thought that his alcohol abuse does. Nevertheless, it apparently also does something to activate the “asshole switch” in his deeply defective brain. He could be perfectly well-behaved when I get home from work and even while we do our nightly Panache rehearsal — in fact, that is one thing that has seen an especially dramatic improvement since he quit drinking hard alcohol: he behaves much better in the rehearsals. I don’t think there has been one occasion yet since he quit the hard stuff where I’ve had to abruptly pack up my instrument and retreat to my office to get away from him as I have countless times before due to his abusive, alcohol-addled behavior. Nevertheless, there have been several occasions recently when I have had to abruptly quit eating and leave the room before I had finished dinner since he started up at me with his vituperative bullshit, with the variable being that he was high by that point and drunk from the beer and wine that he drinks while doing his own practicing as I prepare dinner.
As relieved and excited and amazed as I am at what he can accomplish when he puts his mind to it, I am at the same time a bit perturbed, since he has demonstrated that he has a very strong will, which leads me to believe that his refusal to do very basic things for himself really is just childish indolence and a total indifference to the enormous amount of incredibly irritating and burdensome extra work and hassle he creates for me by refusing to do his part in practically anything.
Back to the improvement side: he has recently begun reacting to situations like a mentally normal adult instead of a maladjusted spoiled toddler piqued at not getting his way automatically and instantly, no matter how outrageous or inappropriate. This is totally new. However I say that with qualification because I am losing my memory of what his default settings were like before the extremely dysfunctional, mentally disturbed, drug-addicted, sociopathic personality took over. He has also very recently been displaying more and more of the sweet, well-mannered, endlessly fascinating character he had when I first met him and fell in love with him, which is absolutely a huge, unqualified plus. I’m even getting back to the point where I trust him to behave decently consistently enough that I am genuinely enjoying his companionship again instead of only resenting and grudgingly enduring it.
I have been struck by things he has recently said that indicate the strength of his intention with this. The stability of the “good” behavior for this duration is unprecedented, and lends strength to my theory that it is the substance abuse that drives and perpetuates the negative, mentally disturbed behavior. Or perhaps it is a “chicken-or-egg” situation, where the addictive personality drives the substance abuse, which in turn aggravates and amplifies the other mental health issues.
I’m cautiously beginning to hope that the utterly miserable days of having to walk on eggshells whenever I am home (and never knowing what I’m going to be coming home to on any given day) lest he suddenly flip out over some random trigger and turn on me out of the blue are over. Or so I thought. There have been several evenings recently where I have had to stop eating before I had finished dinner and leave the room when he started up at me with his usual shit, which shows that that pathological behavior program is still entrenched. It may be in the final throes of being overcome, but I’m not holding my breath about it….
Well, unfortunately over the past month the faulty program has been prevailing and the decent behavior has been waning. I’ve had to get up and leave the table before I’d finished dinner practically every night for at least the past month (August 2012) due to him creating an intolerable environment for me, and in fact, he has recently started doing this malfunction at other people too. More about this coming soon….Well, it was good while it lasted. However a couple days ago he did mention something about withdrawal symptoms and about cells renewing after a certain period of time and wondering what effect that may have on repairing damage from a lifetime of excessive (hard) alcohol consumption. I’ve been contemplating quitting having dinner with him for the time being, or until he gets into therapy and makes a respectable effort to get his shit together.
As we were cleaning up after a long, tiring day of making a couple months’ worth of cat food, he turned to me and said, “I really do get drunk from only drinking beer!” as if it were some sort of revelation. I tried not to be overtly sarcastic in my reaction saying silently, “Seriously??! You don’t say!” He continued on about how his body seems to be changing and reacting differently to alcohol, perhaps due to cellular regeneration. I reminded him that we have agreed to do a cleansing program at the end of this month and not drink any alcohol at all for the whole month of October and that would give him a great opportunity to explore this further. He informed me of me how discouraging it is to have me throw another impossible-sounding ordeal on him before he has even finished his current landmark accomplishment of getting through 120 days with no hard alcohol, and he still has 10 days to go. Touché!