The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Endorphins

I got them back!

Yikes, I have had some interesting experiences in the past eight weeks! Some of them, in fact, were a little too interesting. What happened is too much to tell you about all at once. However, I have always been completely honest with the readers of this blog, and therefore you can be sure the tale will be told in it's entirety in the by and by.

For the first time in my adult life, I am experiencing being completely free of any intoxicants. Wow, so this is what normality feels like? Since I smoked my first joint of marijuana at the age of thirteen with my friends down in Pine Point's Snake Woods, I've pretty much been stoned on something or other every day ever since. Oh, there was the occasional attempt at cutting back or quitting. I even succeeded in giving up one of my addictions cold turkey - my beloved Old Gold cigarettes in 2002. But even that act of abstinence was drug inspired. I had developed a bad, hacking cough and knew it was because of all the substances I smoked, and realized that I should give something up.

Quitting pot was out of the question, as at the time I regarded it as being a harmless weed that never hurt a soul. While I was never a fiend for crack cocaine until the end, I never turned it down either if it was free. Therefore that left cigarettes, which while it has some stimulating effects, doesn't really get you high like pot or crack. Therefore I quit the cigarettes, but only so that I could continue to smoke the more powerful intoxicants. Interestingly, quitting cigarettes alone was sufficient to eliminate my cough.

So now I'm straight, healthwise if not sexually, and my endorphins are returning to functioning normally. Endorphins are the chemicals in your brain that serve as a kind of natural opiate to make you feel good when good things happen to you. Get some exercise, and endorphins are released. Get a raise, your brain neurons get bathed in endorphins. If someone brings you to orgasm, it unleashes an endorphins thunderstorm in your cranium.

What drugs do, each in their own special way, is artificially stimulate endorphins production. You don't have to achieve anything to release them, you can just take a hit of the joint, the crack pipe or a swig of whiskey. It is easier to consume these substances than to actually do something, which is why addicts eventually lose interest in nearly all activities but their endorphin producing substances. Why bother with anything else when with drugs the desired result is guaranteed?Eventually your endorphin rushes can no longer be produced except by drugs. That means that even if you do something positive, then you don't get that good rush of endorphins. Now only the drug can do that.

This is one of the reasons why quitting drugs is very hard; because even if you do succeed in stopping the drugs, the lack of natural endorphins leaves you feeling dull, depressed and empty. Without your dope, all you can feel is a black pit inside where your soul should be. However, if you can stay off the drugs long enough, without going crazy or turning suicidal, then little by little your body will recall how to manufacture and distribute it's own natural endorphins. Finally there will be a direct cause and effect relationship between endorphin production and how you respond to the real world. Getting to that point requires being looked after for a bit during that nightmarish phase where the dope is gone and the natural endorphins haven't kicked in.

So that's what I've been doing during my two month absence. I've been in detox and rehab, getting my brain chemistry straightened out after decades of screwing it up with drugs and alcohol. In most ways rehab was a big success. I feel absurdly healthy, and I'm thrilled by the new clarity of my mind and the sharpness of my emotions. I'm also physically in great shape, and thereby I'm horny as hell, although that is a development with the potential for creating complications.

When I was in rehab, I didn't have any internet access at all. I couldn't so much as check my email. In rehab they like to keep you sort of cut off from the world, the better to remold your thinking without outside interference. Therefore, it wasn't until I got out that I had the chance to read all of the really nice things people were writing about me while I was gone. It was truly moving as well as humbling, not just because of the large number of comments that were posted on the website, but the even larger number of personal emails I received as well. Yet among all those wonderfully encouraging emails was one that represented an odd blast from the past.

There was an email from an old junkie friend of mine who several months ago had quit drugs. At the time he had attempted to ensure his long term success by entering into a bet that was designed to reinforce his will-power. My friend is married and both he and his wife claim to be born-again Christians who disapprove of homosexuality. He tolerates my gayness but only as what he considers an unfortunate flaw in my otherwise commendable character. He has always been upfront in telling me that he regards all gay sex acts to be disgusting. Therefore, in an attempt to avoid a drug relapse, he vowed that if he ever took drugs again, then as punishment he would voluntarily submit to a gay sex session - or as he so colorfully phrased it to his wife, "I bet my butthole to a homo that I will never use drugs again."

And the homo he bet his ass to was me.

So imagine my mixed emotions when I found, among the heartwarming emails of encouragement from readers, friends and family, one from my junkie friend. He made an unsettling confession - he had relapsed. Fortunately, my friend had quickly recovered and gotten clean again, but his wife knew of his slip. To ensure that there would not be another, she was demanding he honor his bet. More than that, she was insisting that she be allowed to sit beside the bed where she could watch her husband pay up with his buns up.

I was sorely tempted to collect on that debt. I knew from seeing my friend swimming nude at Puffers Pond that he was a big-cocked stud with an unusually muscular body for a junkie. Also the prospect of the voyeuristic wife at the bedside provided additional sexual spice. And yet in the end I sent an email releasing my friend from his debt. For one thing I had never expected my friend to relapse. Therefore I never expected to have to bring into consideration my strict rule never to have sex with a known junkie, simply because needle users almost always carry diseases whether they are aware of it or not. But it also seemed like a bad way to treat a friend. I don't think either our friendship or his marriage would be worth very much after such a sexual encounter.

However, if that email had appeared a few months ago, before I went into rehab, I may well have had a different response. Even if I still hesitated for the reasons I just described, inevitably I would have gotten too high and thrown caution to the wind. One of the gifts of my new sobriety is that once I think something through to a sensible conclusion I can make it stick. Tommy the stoner wasn't very good at that.

I'm proud of myself for turning down that unwise sexual treat despite the fact that in my new healthiness I feel more randy than I have in years, which is saying something since I've always had a high sex drive. But now at last it is me making the decisions, not my dick, and that is definitely a change for the better.

This morning an historic old house was driven through the streets of downtown Amherst to a new location just a few blocks away, as shown in this video by Mary Carey.


tony said...

Hey Tommy.Well Said!
.........the trouble with Natural Endorphins is that they are unpredictable? Getting High on Life means accepting that Life is unpredictable & (therefore) so are the pleasures reality brings.
People turn to artificial Highs because they are more relible? However,In the end, they try & destroy our spontaneity.
i think the Joy Of Life is finding the unexpected Joy around each new corner.
Keep Up The Good Work!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the club....

You missed the Grateful Dead conference at UMass

Better to be Clean

M - (45 yo, 25 years clean and sober)

Jason Burkins said...

Welcome back Tom. I am happy for you. You were missed for sure, but the absence was worth it for your sake. Looking forward to your insight and entertaining viewpoints again.



Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,

Welcome back! You seem like you got a new lease on life from your post. The Grateful Dead weekend was a few weeks ago at UMass and I went to the American Beauty project. It was mostly good.

They opened with David Gans doing "Friend of the Devil," and I know he meant alot to the Dead family, but hell, he can't sing a lick. That said, most of the tunes were really fine. Varied musicians played. These four chicks with acoustic guitars, backed by the band did a GREAT version of "Attics of My Life" and "Sugar Magnolia" was fine and "Easy Wind." Didn't go see "Dark Star Orchestra" the next night.

I know you got alot of catching up to do. BTW, NRPS is at the Iron Horse on 12/27. They are way, way better than you can even imagine. I actually prefer them now to the early 70's version.

Jordan said...

Welcome back to our world, Tom!

I'm sorry that Micheline and I missed you at Thanksgiving - but gratified to learn that after getting some bionic drug treatment you're "better, stronger, faster."

We had a fine drive through most of the New England states - mainleyMaine. Many lobsters were slaughtered on our behalf. Spent nights atHampton Beach (nice off-season), Bangor (a shithole), and Portland(pretty cool city). Nice T-day with the family in Southbridge.

I was a bit surprised to learn about the crack addiction - I didn't think you would BUY coke/crack (take it when offered, sure, but BUY?!?Hahaha). But I've known many others to fall prey to the evil rock andonce it takes control - all bets are fuckin' off.

I look forward to hearing all about the emotional roller-coasteryou've been on - hell I just miss your writing about anything.

Yeah, getting off the pot is probably a good idea too - you've likely made a linkage between the two and, at least for me, at least for a good while, "zero" was a much easier amount of substance abuse to calibrate than anything larger -it keeps the rationalizations from kicking in.

And you might want to check out an NA or AA meeting - evena fiercely independent rabid atheist like me needed it to get over my own hump. Truly, I doubt I could've done it alone - and even while rejecting most of the "steps", and all of the religiosity, being around people that had succeeded meant the world.

I chuckled at the butthole bet story. Funny though - the first thing that popped into my mind was that he wanted you to fuck him. That might be buried about 4 layers into his psyche - but many times I've sensed among those most disgusted by homosexuality that they want to eradicate it because in their heart-of-hearts they fear they are vulnerable to it's temptations. Why would he have agreed to such anoutrageous bet in the first place?

Of course, you made the right decision to give him a pass - the emotional complexities may have been staggering.

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