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February Failed

I’m not feeling too proud of myself right now. I tried to do a sober February and failed less than halfway through.

December is usually rough with all the social events, but it seems to be getting worse each year. What I mean is I’m getting worse each year. I just want to crawl into a ball and not put on that social disguise anymore. No one seems sincere, no one talks about anything but themselves. January hasn’t been too keen either with the cold weather and post-holiday letdown.

I used to like the cold, but either these Minnesota winters are getting worse or I’m getting less tolerant in my age. Seems like my mental state’s turned 180 since I became 35. My attitude is now “yeah, I could, but I don’t want to.” I’m avoiding more discomfort than pain. I went from thinking young to thinking old.

The house fever is putting me in a rut of a rut. Probably everyone around is feeling it too, because the kids are fighting more, being whiny and resistant. And I need not mention how this past year nationally has been a dumpster fire in a dumpster fire.

All of this results in me drinking more. My wife’s worried about it because I’m not a social drinker — I drink to get drunk. And it’s getting harder to consume enough to get to that state without A) getting full or B) drinking high potency stuff. I carry a bottle wine of like it’s a pint of beer.

I drink for the sensation of not being so tightly wound. Because when shit’s going down, I can relax and not think so much. The world isn’t closing in on me. I’m not burdened by judgment (self or otherwise) or embarrassment. It quiets the intrusive thoughts and the yapping brain.

So I tried to make February a sober month — no drinking, no beer, wine, cocktails, anything, just to prove that I could. I have a history of alcoholism in my grandparents on both sides, but neither of my parents. So it’s possible I don’t have the gene, but just in case…

Not to mention my doctor keeps mentioning elevated “liver levels” every time I have a check-up, but never says what that means. I had to start taking blood pressure medication, but I’m not sure if alcohol’s the sole cause of that. I did this once for Lent (even though I’m not Catholic) and I didn’t tell anyone. This was for myself, just to prove that I could. But something in February broke me.

Besides the winter, the family getting on each other’s nerves*, I started the month getting a bad cough, brought home by my wife from her new job at the elementary school. It got so bad I had to work from home for two days.

*It’s like I don’t know how to play with my kids anymore, since they passed eight years old. I don’t want them to get too much video games or TV. But no one wants to do the things I want (like board games and RPGs) and I don’t want to do the things they want (build Legos and play with toys… however it is nine-year-olds play). Everytime it’s like when I was teenager: “Do you want to do something?” “Sure, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know.” “How about we do this?” “Nah.” “Or this?” “Nah.”😬

But just when I was getting better, she sprains her Achilles tendon while shoveling her parents driveway. I had to drive her to the emergency room. And the next day was supposed to be our ski vacation–had to cancel that. She can’t move much at all. Only now, two weeks later, she’s able to walk without crutches or a boot. So I’ve got to help her out, and on top of that she gets the cough I had, so sleeping isn’t better. She can sprint like a ninety-year-old grandma and she’s still hoping to go skiing in March.

Then there was the school shooting in Florida. And finally, I just said, “Fuck it. What does it matter? What does any of it matter? A child molester can run for senate and you still have to fight your ass off to stop him and he still gets a good chunk of the vote. No one uses evidence any more. Character witnesses don’t matter. Just say you didn’t do it. Just get people to say “I believe him, cause he says he didn’t do it.” Good people on both sides and all that. Fuck it. Do what you want. No one cares. Sure, just don’t sign bills that were passed. No consequences for that. No one’s accountable. Police aren’t. Politicians aren’t. Entertainers aren’t. Doctors aren’t. Burn it all down now and save some trouble.”



I’m not even talking about this presidency. Sure, most of the bad policies have been able to be stopped (DACA, Muslim bans, a border wall), but gun regulation has been a problem well before any of this. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. Almost twenty years later and nothing’s been done about it. Twenty-eight people shot in an elementary school, and senators STILL said no to the most no-brainer gun control. They weren’t even hiding it anymore. Congress decided the NRA’s financial support is worth a few dozen dead kids every year, like Hinzelmann in American Gods.

So then I thought maybe, okay, one day of weakness can be forgiven. It’s not like I’m doing this for anyone but myself. But nope. Then my grandfather died. Not too surprising — he was 86 — but still, it doesn’t make a body feel good. I wasn’t very close with him in this past decade–they live in a cabin up north and age has steadily prevented them from visiting. He’ll be cremated — no funeral — because all his family is either dead or too far away. Which is kind of a shame, because I don’t know much about my grandfather’s family — he was the most closed book of my grandparents. And a funeral helps the healing process.

He’s where I got my baldness gene from. When I was little he would call Big Bird “Big Chicken”, which would annoy me in the way that five-year-olds get annoyed when old people are funnin’ them. And he had this gorilla ashtray in the basement (a two-foot high ceramic statue of a gorilla holding up an ashtray), and he’d put his finger in the gorilla’s mouth and pretend it was getting bitten. And that scared the fuck out of me. I kept about an eight-foot distance from that thing until I was ten. Kinda wish I had it now.

So all that’s happened in this new year is adjusting to this new misery. I once tried adding some anti-depressants to my anti-anxiety meds, but they gave me nightmares and weird sleeping patterns and didn’t make me happier. But I think I’m going to try it again. I don’t know how I can live this miserably without taking some action. I can’t feel joy anymore. I don’t laugh. I don’t get scared. Not even work can give me satisfaction anymore, because they don’t give me anything to do.

Eric J. Juneau

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.


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