Mental Hygiene: The Stop Sign

In order to heal and to improve ourselves it is critical to manage our thoughts. Not control; manage. Start by paying attention to your inner monologue. What kinds of things do you fill your void up with? Are these things you would enjoy hearing from loved ones? If not, you need to work on what you tell yourself.

When I was getting sober, I stumbled on a technique for mental hygiene that has proved helpful. When I caught myself thinking about things that led me into self-destructive mental cull-de-sacs, I would simply imagine a stop sign. That’s it.

This works because, from childhood, a stop sign is a potent symbol. We must stop what we are doing and take a moment to make sure everything is safe. Not only does it disrupt out process, it reassures us. The stop sign keeps us safe. It imposes borders, however illusionary, on a chaotic world.

So, when your mind is taking you someplace you’d rather not be, picture a stop sign. Visualize it as clearly as you can. Look at it. Then, pull the movie camera of your mind outwards. Where is the stop sign? Is it someplace you remember? Let your mind wander from that sign so long as it doesn’t go down any of those nasty, dark roads it likes so well. As soon as it does, crack the whip and get back to the stop sign in its simplest form.

At first I could only manage about five or ten seconds between stop sign mental reboots. But the longer I could stay focused on that sign, the better I got at getting free of those bad thoughts. If nothing else, it was a break from my toxic inner monologue. A break that did not require poisoning myself with booze in a search for oblivion.

If you don’t like what you’re telling yourself, what you can’t stop fixating on:

STOP

Party Pooper

Back when I was quitting drinking (barely even out of the DTs yet), I encountered a series of enabling women who tried to drag me out to bars. What a fuckery life is! When I was drinking I couldn’t get laid out of a bar if my life depended on it, but now a parade of bar sluts present themselves to me; a chorus line of assholes beckoning me back into the drink.

Interestingly, they almost always used the same line: “Oh, come on! You don’t have to drink to have a good time!”

In one of those all too rare moments in life, I nailed my response to this the first time I heard it, and it has been my go to reply since:

“In a bar I sure as fuck do.”

And I don’t drink, so connect the fuckin dots on why I’m not coming out. I’m glad that you can feel special in your ability to enjoy the bar environment without alcohol, you vibrant, unique flower, you! Lucky you to have a brain chemistry that allows enjoyment of that scene without enhancement. Or, perhaps, all the attention from the drunks continually trying to get into your pants has something to do with it. Either way, whatever you situation might be, I’ll thank you not to tell me about mine. Particularly not in an attempt to use me to play out some complicated pathological drama about addiction’s role in your life.

That these people actually regarded this abuse as some kind of support is the ultimate in douchebaggery.

I’m sorry, but you and your scene are just not very interesting. That you always congregate in alcohol distribution venues too noisy have a conversation in should maybe be a clue. It doesn’t hold up well in, say, a park, does it? So don’t go telling me it isn’t about the booze and the drugs, even if you aren’t partaking yourself.

However, if I’m missing the signals on a play to get me into bed, then let me suggest the unsolicited blowjob as a more direct route. I’m just saying: that kind of overture really cuts through a lot of red tape.

Otherwise, have fun. Maybe give me a call when you’re doing something that doesn’t revolve entirely around something that will kill me.

A Good Year

When people talk about enjoying a nice cold beer or a glass of wine with dinner, I really have no fucking clue what the hell they’re talking about. Being sober, what I really miss about alcohol is getting so shitfaced that I come to the next day wedged under my sofa with a bunch of cracked knuckles. I’m not joking either; that shit was a lovely vintage.