Alcohol and I
In my last entry I wanted to tell you about how I began my life as a performer but I was too drunk to really write the story clearly. In fact, I passed out before I could even finish and woke up the next morning fully clothed on top of the bed with a raging hangover. If we look at drinking through a puritanical lens then maybe I should feel some shame. I don’t. I am a measured hedonist. I don’t see anything wrong with the pursuit of pleasure or intoxication as long as it does not cause harm to oneself or others.
Thanks to the random collection of genetic material handed down from many ancestors, I have been protected from alcohol's most detrimental effects. I don't become violent or do anything outlandish when I get drunk. I have a very clear sense of self. I'll never do anything that I hadn't already thought about before I started drinking. Alcohol does exactly what it's supposed to do for me, lower my inhibitions. Since I've always suffered from very strong social anxiety, alcohol was self-medication that allowed me to function in high stress environments where drinking was acceptable. I most certainly do have a psychological dependence. Thanks to all the forces that went into making me, my psychological dependence never turned into a full-blown addiction.
I suppose the only time that alcohol has become a hinderance was during stage performances. The social anxiety that I refered to often is strongest when I am on stage. I become possessed by a very powerful fear. It feels like invisible ropes have been wrapped around my entire body to restrict my movement to the point of paralysis. This is a very ironic situation because I have been performing on stages since I was in high school.
I have miscalculated the amount of alcohol needed on more than a few performances. I've never done that for gigs in which I had to perform for someone else or as part of a major event. However, I've certainly done it for my own private shows. The performance had always been for the purpose of looking for the way to open a door to higher consciousness. I was seeking a road to getting back to the part of me that exists beyond the physical realm. Stage fright is a great barrier to reaching that level of consciousness. Such a journey requires that I temporarily turn off my awareness of the physical world so that I can focus inward on my state of existence. Many singers sing because they want to show off their vocal skills. Rappers want to astonish people with their ability to rhyme. I didn't care about any of those. I was looking for my own divinity like a shaman on a vision quest. I’m not telling you this to be pretentious. I know it can sound like a bunch of new age hooey. But, if you want to understand my story, then you have to understand this way of thinking. You don't have to accept it. Just see it as part of the palette of colors I’m using to describe a picture of myself.
I began drinking from the age of 18. I noticed right away that alcohol allowed me to be able to take away the buzzing energy of anxiety I felt in social situations. Parties seemed more fun and less like an inquisition. I've rarely have a craving for alcohol outside of social gatherings. I do love wine but I don't love it because it's alcoholic. I love good wine because it's delicious. I feel the same way about really good rum. For a brief moment, I tried to buy one bottle of premium rum a month but quickly found it was a bad idea. It's one thing to sip wine with dinner, or even finish the whole bottle, which I almost always do, it's quite another to open a bottle of rum and find that I have drank more than I intended. Although I love the taste, I understand the danger. So I stopped my monthly rum purchases.
I do realize that what I have described to you is alcoholic dependence masked by a litany of excuses. This is the truth of my life. If I'm in a social situation with people other than those who feel like family, I will definitely shake apart and explode if I can't have a drink.
I should have gone to a therapist or psychiatrist about this long ago. The only reason why I didn't was because it's really expensive. I didn't believe spending ¥10,000 or more per hour on never ending therapy could solve my problem. I'm sorry to say this to my beautiful Japanese friends and family, but Japanese psychiatry is atrocious. They are very good at research but very bad at treating psychological issues. Japanese culture is one of emotional distance, but in order to affectively treat psychological disorders, it is essential that the psychiatrist or psychologist have the ability to empathize with their patients and analyze the events of their patients' lives that got them tangled up in their psychological state. This kind of closeness goes against the core essence of being Japanese. Instead, treatment is dependent on pharmaceuticals. I'm not sure how much therapy would help anyway.
Writing these entries is a kind of self-therapy. It does not bother me that it's out in the public because I'm telling a story that characterizes me as just another human being. How silly it is to hide one's own humanity from other humans. People often expect others to be like them, or to live by the same set of beliefs they do. They start to feel uncomfortable when something someone is doing conflicts with their own vision of how a human should behave. That's just it. This is my life. If someone feels uncomfortable with my story it's their problem, not mine. The problem is easy to solve. Just stop reading.
I know very clearly the source of my anxiety. I just don't know how to turn it off using only the power of my will. I also know that if I were to see a psychiatrist, he or she would just swap my alcohol with some other chemical. There's no fun in that, being chemically dependent on mood altering drugs that make you feel dull and lifeless. I want to feel the howl of energy coursing through my veins as I stand in the halls of my ancestors raising a glass of fermented beverage in homage to one of mankind's greatest inventions. I want to take therapy in my hands and drink it down with a twist of lemon then commune with my spirits through music. I don't want to cover up myself in pharmaceuticals. I most certainly don't want to risk my soul to any substances that would open up the gates of hell. Narcotics are not for me. Though I have had plenty of opportunities to try cocaine, heroin, crack, meth and other forms of satanic relief, I will never touch it. I don’t want to have my soul stolen from me the way I have seen hard drugs steal the souls of others. Since I know that I do have an addictive personality and very little will power, it's almost a 100% guarantee that if I were to walk down that path I would never return. That loss of self frightens me much more than being nervous at social gatherings.
Give me grapes and barley distilled into glass. I want to stand in line behind one of the apostles at a party with Jesus as he takes his homemade brew and passes it around. Let me shout madly on the rooftops of the world beneath post-midnight luminescence. Let me dream like the poets before me have dreamed.
I do understand that alcohol has destroyed many people's lives. I have seen men become twisted golems of themselves when they are trapped inside of their alcoholic cage. Neglect, self-harm, harming of others, and a destruction of one's ability to function in society is a very real danger. Add to this the physical harm of heart disease and liver disease and it's clear that following in my footsteps is a dangerous road to travel. I have been lucky. Alcohol hasn't stuck to me in that way. We can walk away from each other for days weeks or months and still be friends. That's how it's been so far for the many decades of my life. Yes, I might have shaved off a few years. Only time will tell for sure.