How to Stay Alive: Prologue and Preface
I started writing something that I think is a book. There are nine chapters so far. Below are the prologue and preface. Trigger Warning: substance abuse, alcoholism, suicidal ideation, sexual trauma, disordered eating
This was his third rock bottom.
“How many more times do I have to do this? What else do you want me to learn?” His body tensed up as he asked this question to himself, to the universe. Then he took a deep breath in and sighed it out. The fight wasn’t over, as much as he wanted it to be.
It was supposed to be his second time in rehab. Instead, he found himself in a self-imposed state of limbo. Living at his parents’ house – if you can call it that. Living.
When the doctors medically discharged him after two visits to the ER in less than 48 hours at the detox facility, his favorite nurse asked, gently:
“Do you have anywhere to go?”
His eyes welled with tears, but he tried his best to shake them away, feigning confidence and positivity.
30 years old. Broke as fuck. Broken in mind, body, and heart, as well. So many people believed in him, but he could not function. The depression was debilitating. The fatigue too intense. The debts too great to pay. The shame too much to carry.
And let us not forget the inability to stay sober.
Tuesday, September 1, 2020 – 3pm-ish – Detox, Day 1
I need to be here because I am engaging in risky behavior (drunk driving, sexual misadventures, reckless spending), and I am suicidal.
Let yourself be helped. This was Patrick’s greatest struggle. Besides loving himself, of course. Though the two are certainly related.
Patrick preferred helping other people to helping himself. The first time he mustered up the strength to ask for help was the first time he went to rehab. Still, his first instinct after making the decision to go to treatment in Arizona, was to write inspirational notes to his loved ones. He had a moment of clarity, realizing mid-thought, how obsessed he was with avoiding his own pain. What he really needed was to write an inspirational note to himself. Or to read one from somebody else. He shook his head and shortened his list of people to contact before his flight to Phoenix that evening. Everything was happening so fast. No time or energy for notes.
Once he made it to rehab, people kept telling him that he loved himself enough to ask for help. That just being there proved that he cared for himself at least a little bit. He never argued against this point out loud, but he was unconvinced. Perhaps this lack of confidence explains his relapse 9 months later.
Patrick was a toxic independent and an avid journaler. He learned how to practice bullet journaling during his short year of marriage, which was the perfect time to give himself permission to make lists. One of his go-to lists quickly became “THINGS I’M STRESSED ABOUT,” also known as, “THINGS I’M THINKING ABOUT.”
It made him feel better to get everything out in the open. Not better enough to thrive, but better enough to keep going one more day. Usually this practice of gathering his thoughts in one place on one page gave Patrick the perspective to see, if only for a moment, that his feelings of overwhelm and emotional confusion were logically valid. He started using hearts instead of bullet points as a desperate attempt to cultivate joy. It wasn’t working.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Reasons to Die
♥ impossible to love
♥ mental health
♥ disappointing my family
♥ sexually confused
In Patrick’s mind, asking for help was adding a burden to someone else’s life. One time he listed his biggest fears:
♥ being alone
♥ being a burden to others
♥ causing hurt and disappointment
He was determined not to depend on anyone else. To his detriment.
Patrick loved people more than anything in the world. He loved them so much that he stayed away from them – to protect them from his influence. He felt like his failure was contagious, his burdens impossible. He was not well. He had his ups and downs, but the ups never lasted. He believed he was too much to handle. He was too much for himself.
Monday, August 31, 2020 7:18pm
Ok, I’m dying. Spending all my money on food and drinks. Just gave someone a BLOW JOB in a MOVIE THEATER during COVID. My God. I’m off the deep end. Currently eating Mexican food, on my fourth margarita.
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Well, I’m back in rehab.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
It’s hard for me to believe that I’ll ever be loved for all of me.
This is a story about self-hatred. Self-love, when possible. Identity. Pain. My goal when I started this project was to process parts of my human life through the practice of writing. To keep going for one more day. To tell my story. I wrote this looking for a sense of purpose. For some reason, I am still here. As I type these words, I am still alive, in this body, in this human experience. My name is Parker, and yes, Parker and Patrick are almost the same person. If you are reading this, I hope it is not too much for you.
All the journal entries are almost real, by the way.