Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
I’M ADDICTED AND I CAN’T SLEEP IT OFF
Over the years I have been attracted to a wide variety of pleasure-inducing substances. Because of my low threshold of discipline (my motto: I can resist anything except temptation), it has always been a real challenge to keep these desires from turning into full blown addictions.
Sometimes it has been a relatively harmless and inexpensive addiction. (“Oh boy, they have Pop Tarts on sale this week!”)
Other times it has been a bit more inconvenient. (“I realize the contractions are thirty seconds apart, dear, but I promise I’ll drive you to the hospital as soon as this ESPN Sports Center is over.”)
Still, at other times, it has been downright serious. (“Oh please, boss, don’t fire me for drinking on the job! I need the money to pay off my bookie and cocaine dealer!”)
I am very fortunate—and even more grateful—for the fact that I have somehow managed to keep myself and my family intact through all this. Of course, I don’t deserve any of the credit. It has been the Good Lord, a loving wife, and a multitude of 12-step programs which have kept me on an even keel. (“Hi, my name is Bill, and I’m a… a… Hey, what night is this, anyway? Is this the alcoholics with low self-esteem meeting, or the left-handed drug-abusing Red Sox fan meeting?”)
I’ve been clean and sober and reasonably normal (OK, let’s not quibble about the definition of “normal”) for about fifteen years now. But just when I started to think all these problems were behind me, I have begun to notice certain thoughts and behaviors which are much too similar to those old obsessive days.
There is a definite pattern in the way these things develop. At first, it is harmless and there are no negative effects. But then, a mild desire begins to grow steadily stronger until it becomes a powerful craving. One day, you realize this craving has become an all-consuming obsession and everything else in your life takes a back seat.
In recent months my thoughts about a particular pleasure-inducing substance have fallen into this same sinister pattern. Most of my thoughts and desires have been focused on a single elusive delight: a full night’s sleep.
When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, I immediately bury my head in my hands and painfully moan, “Oh no! It can’t be! Oh please, I just need one more hour, I’ll do anything for one more hour!”
As I crawl out of bed, I am already desperately planning how I will get my next fix. “I’m gonna come straight home from work this evening and climb right into bed. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I won’t even watch TV, I won’t even eat, I won’t even take off my shoes. No sir, just straight into the sack. Oh baby, it’s gonna be great!”
However, it never seems to work out as planned. The evening schedule always gets too jammed with activities, commitments, and other distractions. There are phone calls to make, errands to run, kids who need a ride somewhere or help with homework, the refrigerator needs to be fixed and the dog needs to be washed (or does the refrigerator need to be washed and the dog need to be fixed?)
When I finally drag myself to bed, it is about three hours later than I had hoped, and the same sorry scene is sure to play itself out again the next morning.
These kind of cravings and obsessions can cause a person to act quite irrationally. Last weekend, with nothing but decadent indulgence on my mind, I made reservations at the notorious Lustmoor Motel.
After packing the kids off to a neighbor’s house, my wife and I made a beeline for those heart-shaped water beds and mirrored ceilings. We quickly registered at the front desk (under our own names! When you’re addicted, you don’t care who knows). We hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door knob, locked ourselves in, frantically disrobed, dove under the satin sheets, and … went straight to sleep!
Ten hours later, we both awoke, gazed lustfully into each other’s eyes, smile coyly, and then rolled back over to sleep until noon. Pathetic and shameful behavior, I must admit.
The only way I can hope to overcome this vicious addiction is to join yet another 12-step support group. Unfortunately, every time I show up for a Nappers Anonymous meeting, there’s a sign tacked to the door: “Meeting canceled—everyone home in bed.”
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