Why Are All The Fucking Lights On?!

By pperroni 01/30/18
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Approaching my fourth month of sobriety, and I'm not going to sugar coat it, some days it's meh, blah, fuck this. But, most days, it's quite incredible. I have started working the steps, and constantly remind myself to "take it easy and abandon my old ways of thinking, just for today." It's rather simple, and it does work. This evening, depression and fog kicked in and I just wanted to sleep. I tossed and turned for a while, then got up and walked to the Shell station next door for Hot Chocolate and Pop-Tarts. I'm thirty-seven years old. I strolled over there wearing my shiny New Balance sneakers and pajama pants, and a zipped up hoodie sweatshirt. Two young girls drove up for gas and glared at me, kind of a crooked smile stretched across their faces. I looked like a mix of one of Tony Soprano's goons and an unemployed Junior High Track Coach. The girls reminded me of my latest dating "adventure," and how focusing on what is really important must always remain the task at hand.

The adventure had me and a young lady dining, a coffee or two after that, and then she dropped the bomb: “I’m a witch and I cast spells” she said. “I cast a spell to meet a man, and I met you. It means something.” “You have to be fucking kidding me,” I thought, wriggling around in the seat of her minivan. “Think of the spell you cast on me, “ I said, “as more of a witch workshop, and cast another one on a different man.” Minivan-driving witches or not, it was surely a sign. I shouldn't be dating or even thinking about dating. If I am "dating" someone, it's my sponsor, along with a group of people sitting in a room slurping coffee, a discussion of rebuilding and reshaping lives at hand.

Fifteen years ago, declaring to baffled friends and family, I decided against Law School and became an actor. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. On the heels of that statement, as I screeched from Arkansas to Chicago, I submerged myself in the profession. I committed wholeheartedly to nurturing all the characters I played; I had also become a master of ignoring the one character who needed nourishment the most. I loved acting, I loved literature, and I loved to drink. Alcohol took over exponentially, with romantic relationships chucked aside for my artistic career, and when those shades were drawn, an alcoholic and compulsive gambling madman surfaced. As the storm engulfed me, a hope of "starting anew," or dying, boiled at the tip of my sanity.

I read a piece stating: “are you going to commit yourself to the fucking concept of being an artist, or are you going to commit yourself to the people you’re responsible for.” My commitment was to all the characters in the books, the scripts, "the biz," not to myself, developing and nurturing souls not of my own. How can one be responsible for another human being if self-love isn’t constantly practiced. I have consciously and subconsciously dismissed relationships and love, my most recent headed to the chapel, but instead blown to smithereens, due to my craving of self-destructive behavior - lots and lots of booze, with cocaine mixed in for good measure - that took a front seat when facing my own reality. "All of life is a play." Not really, and if treated as such, you may end up in the nuthouse. I had been so far off the scope of living a good life for so long, yet I was committed to concepts outside of myself, grasping at ideas I thought should go a certain way, and when they didn't, I was a bitchy, swollen pile of shit. I was playing the title role in a mess of disillusionment. I could have become a lawyer, a banker, an ad guy, I would have done the same thing: ignoring self-love, embracing destruction, and welcoming greed, not to be confused with ambition. I am navigating and learning about what’s important. I wake up, I enjoy cups of coffee, and maybe for lunch I eat a turkey sandwich. I don’t drink, and I write in an attempt to keep the straitjacket at bay. I am standing in virtually two decades of rubble, ready to face one more character full of flaws. The storm is passing, everything is becoming clean and neat, but a mist lingers.

--Paul Perroni

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