I was in the shower a while ago, meditating on when the last time I took a bath was and sort of/kind of using a razor to clean up the hair on my neck. (I realize, rereading that first sentence, it gives the impression showering is an occasional activity for me. It’s not. I shower many times a year.) (As another aside, my daughter and I have, between us, probably seven kinds of shampoo and five kinds of conditioner. Which, after much writing in circles, brings me back to the razor in my hand.)
This luxurious shower, with so many empty promises in brightly-colored bottles right at hand, was much like being an alcoholic left alone in a bar with no video camera recording him. As I moved the razor down my neck, and looked at all the shampoos in front of me, I thought of booze. Not that I wanted to drink alcohol—or shampoo—just my relationship to alcohol. Normal people can have a drink or two to take the edge off, to relax and transition from the day into the evening. Holding the Harry’s razor (this is not an endorsement—they’re not a sponsor—but I do use Harry’s razors. They send me new blades every few months, and now that I’ve given up daily shaving, I will be rich beyond my wildest dreams in industrial-grade, precision-engineered sharp, shiny metal), I removed the neck stubble, and realized normal folks use alcohol like that razor—they take just enough off of the day’s hair and then put the razor away.
Alcohol and drugs may at some point have been razors for me, although I couldn’t remember that time. I’d misused and abused powders and liquids and pills and herbal supplements long enough that I had transformed them into a Sawzall, a reciprocating saw. For those not familiar with reciprocating saws, here’s an apt description from handyman.com: “Reciprocating saws make demolition easier and more fun. You can struggle and rip it out with a variety of crowbars and hacksaws or you can use a reciprocating saw and just cut it free. It’s the ultimate demolition tool. Windows, walls, plumbing, doors and more—just cut and toss.”
That described exactly how I’d used alcohol for at least the last five years of my drinking. Instead of trimming my neck and putting the razor away, I’d used it as “the ultimate demolition tool,” just cutting and tossing away my self-respect, my relationships, my financial security and any shred of hope. Pretty damn effective, I’d say. I mean, once you’ve decided nothing matters—especially not yourself—booze as Sawzall makes self-destruction fun!
Standing in the shower, I was glad I could keep my hands and lips away from that reciprocating saw. Thanks to recovery, I didn’t need any outside substances to manage my insides. Shampoo is not booze, but I was also grateful I was able to keep my hands and hair away from any of the smells, textures and dreams inside those bottles. I simply rinsed my body with water—no blood, bones or flesh to clog up the drain. Then I sprayed out the razor, dried it and put it in the cabinet.
Just like a real live boy.