A Heart Broken Sober

Turns out she was just one more in the long line of chicks with daddy issues or whatever issues that attract all these younger, often unavailable (whether emotionally or physically or both) and/or married women to me. And I knew that going into it…

I’m confident it’s wasn’t my good looks or my irresistible charm. Perhaps it was just my sense of humor. I’d like to think it’s because I’m a great lover. But alas, it was more likely the money, and the drugs, and the wild, uninhibited, passionate sex, and yeah, the excitement of it all (or in her case, maybe the excitement of getting caught?) — one final valedictory fling before finally settling down to take life seriously.

It wouldn’t be the first time I was someone’s last stop on the fun train, their “last hurrah”, if you will, only to be left broke at the station. And normally, I’m OK with that — happily waving goodbye as their train heads off into the sunset — ready for my next adventure — but, unfortunately, (or “fortunately” depending on how you look at it), I fell madly in love with this one.

…and then it all ended badly.



Somewhere in my past I discovered heartbreak was easy to overcome when drowned in bourbon. You just hold it under until it chokes itself out with the arrival of new love. The only problem is, each time, you have to push it deeper and deeper into the barrel — lowering your standards with each new love — until finally you hit the bottom. She was definitely the bottom of my barrel.

It’s hard enough that every sunrise and sunset reminds me of her. That every time that Alanis song comes on I want to cry. Or that every time I look at a star, I wonder if she’s looking at the same star, thinking of me, too, like we used to do. But those aren’t the heartbreaking thoughts, they’re the heart-warming thoughts; the thoughts of happiness; the thoughts you keep, like those of your childhood dog or your first trip to the beach. The love, the laughs, the cries; they’re the takeaways from every beautiful relationship or friendship.

The anger and feeling like a victim, the depression and feeling like a loser, the fear and wondering what comes next, the hope of maybe she’ll come back, the guilt of maybe it was all my fault, the regrets of maybe I should have done something differently, the anxiety of “why won’t she message me back?” — those are the thoughts of heartbreak.

Man, I wish we could have it all to do over again, but sober…



Most of our relationship centered around getting drunk and high and fucking, and now every drink, every pill, every toke, every key to my nose, only reminds me of her — but not in the good ways — instead amplifying, compounding, and intensifying, the heartbreak. Like the smell of Jean Nate takes you back to memories of grandma, the taste of booze and the “smell” of coke take me back to memories of the last moments we spent together — not of all the years of beautiful walks and deep talks, but rather, what ended in disaster …and heartbreak, for me.

The girl I fell in love with was the girl she was when she wasn’t drunk and high; that is, the girl I loved not only for who she was but for who I was when I was with her. But for her, our love was fleeting, just a temporary patch for whatever “void” in her life. Again, I knew that going into it but, against my better judgement, I still fell in love with her.

There’s no question of her love in return — it was more than obvious, she showed me more love than I’ve ever felt from anyone. I can, however, question her motive — but questioning motives is for the heartbroken. I just want to remember the beautiful things…

They say you can never love someone more than you can miss them, and I missed her deeply, until I realized I missed myself more…

When you finally find yourself at the bottom of life’s bourbon barrel, admiring and longing for the beautiful, blue skies of a better life above, you have only three choices, in order of easiest to most difficult: You can wallow among the dregs of life until you whither and die. You can flood the barrel with more booze, float your way to the top and start the whole process all over again. Or you can claw at the edges until your fingers bleed and try like hell to climb your way out. If your will is strong enough, you can make it. If not, well, at least you died trying.

“No matter how full a bourbon barrel is,
there’s always emptiness inside it.”

Philtaire
(I just made that up.)

For about a year, I was a tiny shell of my former self — heartbroken, confused, lost, sad, angry, depressed, victimized — all those words — trapped at the bottom of the barrel with what seemed like, at the time, no way out.

But then I began to climb…

About a year later, I finally made it to the brim, pulled myself out, dried myself off, and walked away into the sunset, never to look back at that hole again. And while that sunset will always and forever remind me of her, I’ve discovered a much better way to live, letting it warm my heart with all the beautiful memories instead of igniting and fueling the heartbreak with booze.

“Nothing is a waste of time, nor a failure,
if you walk away a better person than before.”

Mahatma Phil
(I just made that one up, too.)

I’d like to say I quit drinking and drugging for my health, or because it’s the right thing to do, or for whatever solid, moral, honorable, dignified, righteous, purposeful reason normal people do it for, but no, like most things I’ve done in my life, I did it because of a girl.

My only hope is that, one day, that girl climbs her way out, too.

—P.

Featured Image: Edvard Munch’s “Love And Pain” (1895) with a side of Jamo

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