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Why Addiction Makes Me Wish I Could Be a Vampire

Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

I’ve been robbed. Something stole nearly 10 years of my life, and that something is the “ugly” affliction that is addiction. I used to get drunk every night either by myself in my apartment or out on the town in New York City’s thriving nightlife scene.

I’m an aging punk rocker and I wish I could drink from the fountain of youth instead. I have always identified with the youth culture of all eras. Heck, I worked at MTV News for seven years. I gobble pop culture — music, movies, TV — like I used to guzzle beer. I want to be Peter Pan, but lately, I’ve been feeling a bit “over the hill.”

‘Tis the season for Halloween, and you probably know the vampire mythology. Vampires stay young forever and almost never die. They have fangs and they bite. They drink blood and can’t be seen in mirrors. Garlic and holy water are kryptonite to them. They feed on humans for sustenance. And while I’m not looking to drink blood, lately I’m feeling, well, not young.

I’ve always enjoyed both horror movies and the vampire oeuvre, from 1922’s silent movie classic “Nosferatu” to HBO’s “True Blood” to foreign favorite “Let the Right One In,” to the canonical horror of 1987’s “The Lost Boys,” which I just revisited on an airplane. I could’ve picked from a couple of hundred movies but I streamed that one — the totally ‘80s flick starring a young Kiefer Sutherland (my first crush) and teenybopper heartthrobs Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.

I’m not dressing up as a vampire for Halloween, but maybe I should.

I just turned 42 but I fantasize about living a lifestyle like The Dandy Warhols’ carefree anthem of youth, Bohemian Like You.

I remember my 30th birthday vividly. My ex-partner (and still a great friend) Chris flew in two of my dearest and oldest friends from Chicago to NYC, and a couple of college buddies took the Fung Wah bus down from Boston. We all had dinner at a Brazilian BBQ joint on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There were about 12 or 15 of us.

Next, we hit up an East Village dive bar followed by dancing at ye olde fabled Pyramid Club in Alphabet City for their legendary, now-defunct “1984” new wave dance party. I had a blast! It was the last night drinking was truly fun for me.

And all my friends were gathered together on one dance floor. It was like that song All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem, in which electro icon James Murphy poses the question: “Where are your friends tonight?” and yearns “If I could see all my friends tonight.” It’s a tune with lyrics about aging hipsters.

So my 30s were kind of a washout. Wasted time.

And by now, many of my friends are married with pint-sized trick-or-treaters. Even gay friends. But I decided to spend my 30s another way: I decided to drink. And I drank. And I drank. And I drank some more. Maybe if my 30s weren’t sabotaged by alcohol, I would be in a relationship too, or possibly have kids of my own, but I am single and dating. And I’m OK with that.

I am a recovering alcoholic, sober since 2012.

And while I do wish I didn’t waste so much time drinking away my 30s, going to rehab and getting sober provided me with a fresh start.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. I think that how you spend your time dictates the person you will be. For me, during my drinking days, I was a drunken, depressed nightmare of a person. Now I spend a lot of time writing. I wrote a memoir about my journey as an alcoholic with bipolar disorder that I hope is helping others. I write regularly here on The Mighty.

However, getting to 2021 was a rocky road. When the economy tanked in 2008, I got laid off from my sweet gig as a producer for MTV along with 20 or so colleagues, including one of its iconic news correspondents John Norris. I slipped into alcoholic abyss. I wasn’t looking for jobs. I was collecting unemployment and using the money to buy bushels of Blue Moon, my beer of choice. I basically drank my dinner every night and barely ate anything at all.

About a week ago I went to a “Friendsgiving” at my sister’s place and there were two college kids there. I definitely saw a difference in demeanor compared to my own peer group. They just seemed so young. I wish I was a little bit younger but I do know that they always say, “you are only as old as you feel.” I guess I still feel youngish. I’m not 21 anymore, but I’m healthy, mostly happy, and free.

I continue to engage with my beloved pop culture, even if sometimes it is nostalgic.

In the pandemic, we’ve all had a lot of time to spare. I’ve used some of it t to help care for my parents, who are increasingly getting up-there. Visiting them each fall/winter where they’ve retired in Hawaii, I drive them to doctor appointments, grocery shop, cook, do the dishes, and walk the dog, etc., all while working on writing projects of my own.

It’s a much better use of my time than staring at the TV, listless and myopic, while tippling beer and wine. And I truly enjoy my mom and dad’s company; I feel lucky to have this extended time with them.

From my experience as a recovering alcoholic, staying in touch with old friends is invaluable. When the chips are down, you can be there for them, but also they can be there for you.

I’ve also learned that there is nothing more joyful than helping others. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. A mantra I learned in Jesuit Catholic high school rings true; we should be “men and women for others.” That’s what I learned at St. Ignatius and that’s what I strive to do. And there’s nothing more youthful than that. Happy Halloween, everybody. And to all a good fright!

Photo by Josue Ladoo Pelegrin on Unsplash

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